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Posted on Sep 29, 2005 in Front Page Features, War College

2003 French Army Order of Battle

By J.L. Betin


Since the end of the Cold War, the change in the international scene has shown French headquarters the necessity of changing the French army structure and goals. The need to maintain a large force of troops facing a potential threat coming from the Warsaw Pact is no longer necessary in the modern era. The technical evolution of weapon systems show that a smaller force using professional troops is more useful than a larger force relying on conscripts. The first Gulf War, along with the Kosovo conflict, clearly displayed to the French HQ its limits in projecting French troops around the world. 

The first consequences are:

– The creation of a professional army.

- A pause in the French conscription system. The word pause is important; the conscription system is not totally scrapped.  It can be reestablish at any time in case of a major crisis (scenario of ‘type 6’ following NATO definitions).


– The elimination of all existing reserve regiments. The role of the reserves in the national defense concept is redefined. No longer will reserves make up separate units; rather they will be deeply integrated within professional regiments such as the 5th company. The legal status of the reservist is created with a specific engagement contract.

– Reserves will be mobilized to replace professional troops in rear areas if a conflict occurs. Reserve units will also be mobilized in the peacekeeping process against terrorism. Mainly they will be used in a security rule, for example patrolling the main railway stations and airports, as defined in the VigiePirate plan.

At the end of the restructuring, the French Army size has decreased from 550,000 to somewhere close to 280,000 soldiers. This figure includes the Gendarmerie Nationale, which has three main roles in France:

– Judiciary policing like any civil police;

– Maintenance of law and order;

РDefense of French territory in case of crisis: Defense Op̩rationnelle du T̩rritoire. In this case the Gendarmeie will be in charge of mobilizing the first and second level reserves forces for protection of so called sensitive points (nuclear power plants, power supply lines, airports, railway stations, dams, etc).

The goal by 2015 is to have an army with the following composition


136,000 mil + 34,000 civ, 85 regiments split into 15 brigades
Main equipment: 420 MBTs Leclerc, 350 light armoured tanks, 180 helicopters


45,500 mil + 11,000 civ
81 ships, incl 2 Aircraft Carriers
total: 234,000 tons

Air Force:

63,000 mil + 7,000 civ
300 Rafales
52 transport aircraft
84 helicopters


95,600 mil + 2,300 civ

The French army must be ready to project up to 50,000 soldiers abroad in military operations. For a better understanding, most of the French regiments are equivalent to classical bataillons with the exception of the armoured one with 80 tanks, which counts as two armoured bataillons


They are no more division-level sized units in France; the highest level is now the brigade.

The French Army is split into:

Р2 heavy armored brigades: 2̬me and 7̬me brigades blind̩es
Р2 light armored brigades: 9̬me brigade l̩g̬re blind̩e de marine, 6̬me brigade l̩g̬re blind̩e
Р2 mechanized brigades: 1̬re et 3̬me brigades m̩canis̩es
Р1 Parachute brigade: 11̬me brigade parachutiste
Р1 mountain infantry brigade: 27̬me brigade de montagne
Р1 airmobile brigade: 4̬me brigade a̩romobile
Р2 logistical brigades: 1̬re et 2̬me brigades logistique
– 4 specialised combat support brigades: Artillery Brigade, Engineer Brigade, Inteligence brigade, Signal Brigade

2ème brigade blindée HQ
2ème brigade blindée Recon company
2ème brigade blindée AT company
6/12ème Régiment de Cuirasssiers (80 tanks Regiment)
2ème Régiment de Dragons (53 tanks Regiment)
16ème Groupement de Chasseurs (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
Régiment de Marche du Tchad (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
13ème Régiment du Génie (Armored Engineer Regiment)
1er Régiment d’Artillerie de Marine (Armored Artillery Regiment)

7ème brigade blindée HQ:
7ème brigade blindée Recon company
7ème brigade blindée AT company
1/2ème  Régiment de Chasseurs (80 tanks Regiment)
5ème Régiment de Dragons (53 tanks Regiment)
152ème Régiment d’Infanterie (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
35ème Régiment d’Infanterie (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
19ème Régiment du Génie (Armored Engineer Regiment)
8ème Régiment d’Artillerie (Armored Artillery Regiment)

1ère brigade mecanisée HQ
1ère brigade mecanisée Recon company
1ère brigade mecanisée AT company
501/503ème Régiment de Char de Combat (80 tanks Regiment)
1er Régiment de Tirailleurs (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
1er Régiment d’Infanterie (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
3ème Régiment du Génie (Mechanised Engineer Regiment)
40ème Régiment d’Artillerie (Armored Artillery Regiment)

3ème brigade mecanisée HQ
3ème brigade mecanisée Recon company
3ème brigade mecanisée AT company
1/11 ème Régiment de Cuirasssiers (80 tanks Regiment)
92ème Régiment d’Infanterie (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
126ème Régiment d’Infanterie (Heavy Mechanized Regiment)
31ème Régiment du Génie (Mechanised Engineer Regiment)
68ème Régiment d’Artillerie (Armored Artillery Regiment)

9ème Brigade Légère Légère de Marine HQ
9ème Brigade Légère Légère de Marine Recon company
9ème Brigade Légère Légère de Marine AT company
1er Régiment d’Infantrie de Marine (48 Wheeled Tanks Regiment)
Régiment de Char de Marine (48 Wheeled Tanks Regiment)
2ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Marine(Light Mechanized Regiment)
3ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Marine(Light Mechanized Regiment)
6ème Régiment du Génie (Light Mechanised Engineer Regiment)
68ème Régiment d’Artillerie (Artillery Regiment)


81mm Mortar

[continued on next page]

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1 Comment

  1. Hello!
    [4° BAM (fr).] 6° régiment d’hélicoptères de combat (Compiègne) doesn’t more exist doe 2 years!


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