BIG BRAS “The geostrategic context justifies this exercise” planned since 2020
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Army divers, the Military Engineering troops are presenting the first nautical shooting range, unique in France, allowing shooting practice from a wet surface. (ILLUSTRATION PHOTO) — Bony/SIPA
Up to 12,000 soldiers will be mobilized. The French armies are preparing to an exercise of unprecedented scale in the first half of 2023, in a scenario of major conflict against a state, the relevance of which is confirmed by the war in Ukraine. In particular, there will be deployed the new Griffon armored vehicles of the Army, Leclerc tanks, but also ground-to-air defense systems, combat aircraft as well as the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and two amphibious helicopter carriers.
“The geostrategic context justifies this exercise” whose idea was born in 2020, long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, pointed out Tuesday General Yves Metayer, commander of the employment division of the forces at the general staff of the armies. “In 2017, the (French) Strategic Review described the arrival of the prospect of a major conflict and the need to to prepare for it. We must adapt our operational preparation and our doctrine of employment” after more than two decades of asymmetric warfare against jihadists, he commented; at a conference presenting the “Orion” exercise.
This exercise has; scale will include three phases. Between the end of February and the beginning of May, 7,000 soldiers will be engaged in a sequence which will include naval operations in the Mediterranean, an amphibious operation then an airborne phase in the south of France.
It will be a question of simulating an intervention in a destabilized country. by militias, bordering a powerful state orchestrating these troubles, and endowed with nuclear weapon. Then, from mid-April to in early May, the armies will simulate a high-intensity air-land confrontation; against this neighboring state, with the deployment of 10,000 12,000 soldiers in the north-east of France, i.e. at divisional level.
Land, sea, air and space
The Orion exercise will have the particularity of to involve all components of the armies (land, sea, air, space) in all material and immaterial fields (cyber, information…). European partners (Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Spain) will be involved, as well as the United States, which will play a division in a digital way.
Between the two major sequences, a civil-military phase will be organized under the aegis of the General Secretariat for Defense and Security; (SGDSN), which will focus on the various means of civilian support to the armies in the event of a major engagement (health, transport…), reserves and informational warfare. “After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we left s”etiolate the mechanisms that existed during the Cold War in the event of a mobilization,” argues General Metayer.