The Strategist

France will establish the National Guard to combat terrorism

07/28/2016 - 14:53

"The President of the Republic decided that the National Guard will be based on the existing military reserves", - says a communique released by President François Hollande’s administration. Parliamentary hearings, which will determine composition and format of the new forces, will be held in September. President's initiative was a response to a series of terrorist attacks that lately occurred in the country.

Marie-Lan Nguyen
Marie-Lan Nguyen
Interior Minister of France Bernard Cazeneuve on Wednesday said that about two and a half thousand French citizens have already expressed a desire to join the ranks of "reservists".

It is expected that by the end of July, the police and gendarmerie operational reserve will amount to about 15 thousand people. They will have to provide security at various public events this summer. M. Cazeneuve also announced a decision to engage up to 10 thousand retired gendarmes to enhance public safety. Ministry of Defense, in turn, will mobilize 28 thousand people from the operational reserve.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, there are 100,000 security officials guarding the French now - 53,000 policemen, 36,000 gendarmes and 10,000 militaries. After the tragedy in Nice, the authorities started talking about need to strengthen presence of security forces in the country. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense have no free human resources, so President decided to mobilize the reserve.

The operational reserve is divided into two main parts – Primary and Standby. The latter consists of almost 130,000 former soldiers and gendarmes, who can be called up for temporary service during the first five years after retiring. The reserve consists of 98 000 former militaries and 28,000 retired gendarmes. The law states that their recall is possible only in exceptional circumstances. President Hollande believes that it’s high time, therefore, 10,000 gendarmes will be called back to the work soon.

Primary reserve, made up of volunteers, has more than 55 000 people. The reserve enrolls any adult French citizen, physically fit for service, not having a criminal record, and specially trained.

Operational civilian reserve of French National Police now consists of 3000 people. Until 2011, this reserve amounted to only police retirees. From now on, everyone aged 18 to 65 years can assist the police. After having a 10-day training in the police academy, a reservist may serve from 30 days to one year.

Voluntary reserve of the gendarmerie has more than 26 000 people. 70% of them are civilians aged 17 to 30 years. They are trained for 15-30 days, to be on duty up to 90 days a year. A reservist’s salary is 89 euros per day.

Creation of the National Guard will be the first serious response of President Francois Hollande’s cabinet to a series of terrorist attacks, which claimed lives of 227 French citizens since the beginning of 2015. The last one occurred on July 26 at a provincial church in Normandy, where two militants took hostages. 84-year-old priest Jacques Hamel was killed, and one hostage was severely injured. Both terrorists were shot down in the course of the police operation.

Earlier, the French government’s sluggish reaction on the attacks gave rise to criticism of the opposition. "They kill our children, assassin our police officers, slaughter our priests. Wake up to reality! "- wrote on her Twitter Marion Le Pen, granddaughter of National Front party’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and niece of its Head Marine Le Pen. Head of the right-wing Republicans, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the government to take action. "We must be ruthless in order to fight the enemy with no morality. Legal complexities, false precautions, excuses for inaction are unacceptable," - he said.