INTERVIEW. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces: “The army in Larzac, an asset to this area”

The essentials The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, will visit the legionnaires of the 13th DBLE this Friday, located at La Cavalerie in Aveyron. This regiment celebrates the Battle of Camerone on April 30th, an achievement by the Foreign Legion.

What influence does the regiment have on Larzac’s economic life?
This regiment is returning to the Larzac plateau, which has been neglected by the armies for many years. This return is a win for the area as 1,300 legionnaires are assigned to the 13th DBLE. More than 200 families have already settled in La Cavalerie or nearby. A new college will open in 2023. A day nursery was built and a nursing home opened. Thanks to the armies, a whole range of services of public and general interest developed for the benefit of all Larzac residents. All this creates activity with constructions, the return of children to classrooms … By investing in the Larzac plateau, local businesses operate, which we always prefer. The establishment of the Foreign Legion created 1,650 jobs in 2019. That is nearly 700,000 euros for subcontracting and 500,000 euros for on-site orders to ensure the operation of this regiment. The legionaries feel welcome and integrated in this area. It’s a beautiful story between a regiment and its territory.
Your visit is an opportunity to discover the regiment’s new equipment.
It is currently being fitted with Griffon armored vehicles which are part of the Scorpion program and which will renew all armored vehicles with the exception of the Leclerc tanks, which are the subject of a renovation. They have the quality of being connected vehicles. This equipment brings the army into the 21st century. The 13th DBLE is currently equipped with 12 Griffons and 20 by the end of the year. This is a first wave that enables operative preparation, especially since the 13th DBLE is to be used within Operation Barkhane in 2022. The Griffons will be used there from the end of 2021.

The 13th DBLE is located in La Cavalerie. / AFP AFP

You mention Barkhane, how will this operation develop?
The strength of the Barkhane force was increased by 600 soldiers to 5,100 soldiers last year. A balance sheet was drawn up at the N’Djamena summit in February. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara is badly affected: today we can see that it is a terrorist group that is avoiding this. It no longer attacks the armed forces, but civilians. The armed forces of the Sahel zone participating in operations on our side are regaining confidence. European partners are also joining the French. The Danes, British, Estonians, Czechs and Swedes are on site with us, especially within the Task Force Takuba, whose task it is to support the Malian armed forces in battle. The Italians are also joining this new format of European special forces. Europeans are aware that part of their security is at stake in the Sahel.
Toulouse was chosen to host the headquarters of the aerospace command. Where we are ?
First a reminder. We have identified space as a site of confrontation since a Russian satellite sneaked onto one of our satellites. These unfriendly behaviors have become commonplace. Our military operations are heavily dependent on space. Barkhane’s soldiers are constantly using satellites to geolocate and communicate with one another. The aim is therefore to have a large unified space command in Toulouse that will enable us to combine all distributed capabilities in order to be able to maneuver our satellites as part of military operations. So far, our military satellites have been controlled by CNES operators. Today we have 250 employees who are gradually joining Toulouse and will continue to grow to 500 by 2025. We also decided to change the name of the Air Force that is there now. Aerospace Army. Eventually, Toulouse was chosen to host the NATO Space Center of Excellence. This is very good news that confirms the excellent French aerospace industry. This center will take place near the space command, which will promote the exchange.
One case hit the headlines a few weeks ago: an investigation revealed the presence of neo-Nazis in the army, including a case with the 13th DBLE. Where are we with internal investigations?
Let me remind you that there is no place in the armed forces for this unacceptable behavior. These are insults to the values ​​and history of our country. For me it’s zero tolerance. But I urge everyone to be humble. It is not easy to see these behaviors. No detection device is completely foolproof. There is screening that is done at the time of enlistment in the armies. But it doesn’t make it possible to protect yourself against everything. The necessary vigilance with regard to the development of these behaviors rests on orders of proximity. Cases have been identified and of course sanctions have been taken to the point of seriousness of the facts up to delisting. Some of these soldiers are also no longer in the army. The National Socialist ideology has nothing to do with the ranks of the Army of the Republic.

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