France entangled a large part of the world in the web of its military bases. According to the London Institute for Strategic Research, France takes second place in the world in terms of foreign military presence after the USA.
Why is it necessary? Why does France spend enormous amounts of cash to maintain its military bases and foreign departments and other territories where the bases are located? Pravda.ru interviewed Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute for Military and Political Analysis, to find out.
“Having military bases in different parts of the world, Paris is trying to pursue its own policy different from that of Washington. It would be safe to say that France is trying to bring NATO out of the American influence.
There is a reason to it. Lately, the competition for world markets of raw materials and various products has escalated, including the competition between the USA and France. Earlier it was USSR that threatened French interests in developing countries, and now it is China and the USA.
France has a reason to maintain its foreign bases. The French flag flying on all continents and oceans is a symbol of a great country with global interests.”
The French foreign legion constitutes the majority of French foreign troops. Only one third of the French legion is represented by French citizens. This means that in the event of losses, French society will have a much calmer reaction than, say, the US would.
It should be emphasized that today Paris has military bases not only in its multiple foreign departments, but in a number of Asian and African countries. As a result, France is capable of controlling strategically important regions.
Military bases located beyond French territories deserve special attention. Most of them are located in Africa, with the largest base in Djibouti. It allows France to control the most important waterways to Europe form the Persian Gulf, including oil transportation.
It is interesting to observe the way France is trying to connect with African countries. French military people train personnel of local security agencies and provide military and technical aid.
The second most important French bases are located in the Gulf of Guinea (Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon and Cameroon). This allows France to preserve its military presence on both the West and East coasts of the African continent.
France is interested in oil fields in the Gulf of Guinea that are comparable with the Persian Gulf oil fields.
This year the first French military base was opened in the UAE. Having control over the Red Sea (Djibouti) and the Persian Gulf, France has the world’s “oil pulse” in its hands.
France has its base in Chad, where it purchases a significant part of its uranium. French presence in the Indian Ocean is especially important because it allows Paris to control all shipments in the region through their bases on the islands Reunion and Mayotte.
It is one of the largest French outposts in Africa that interferes with the US and Great Britain’s monopoly in the region and allows France to claim a significant piece of Antarctica.
The Kerguelen Islands owned by France and located in the southern part of the Indian Ocean are positioned on the crossroads of Africa, Antarctica, and Australia. French bases located there are closely watching nearly the entire Indian Ocean.
The French consider Kerguelen to be a strategic stronghold for future reclamation of Antarctica. Paris has impressive ambitions to take control over a third of the icy continent.
France has a number of strategic objects in the Caribbean Sea region and particularly, French West India, including Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana and the largest oil refinery Fort-de-France on Martinique Island.
Until recently, nearly 20,000 French soldiers were stationed in the region. It is interesting that some of the French military bases are located at the US borders, for example, Saint Pierre and Miquelon (the Atlantic Ocean), and Clipperton and Ville de Toulous (the Pacific Ocean).
France virtually controls the Atlantic Ocean between America and Europe, which does not make Washington happy. French territories in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, namely, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, are of special importance. The French cling to these territories despite of pricy maintenance.
However, benefits outweigh the expenses. New Caledonia alone has a quarter of the world’s nickel reserves as well as large deposits of uranium and other metals. France’s two nuclear ranges temporarily out of operation are located on Polynesian atolls.
The bases located in French foreign departments serve another purpose. At least 11 thousand military people of the main attack force and one fifth of the French air force are stationed at these bases. Additionally, these bases house a significant number of gendarmerie and security forces. Why is it necessary?
These forces are necessary to place pressure on numerous stubborn locals who striving for the independence of their countries. It is not surprising that France has no intentions of removing its military objects from its territories in the future.