ua en ru

France prepares for high-intensity conflict in Europe, Politico

France prepares for high-intensity conflict in Europe, Politico Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

French troops are preparing for a high-intensity conflict in Europe against an adversary that may rival them in firepower, according to Politico.

Colonel Axel Denis stated that the military actions in Ukraine have brought full-scale war back to Europe. He heads the combat training center in Mailly-le-Camp in eastern France. He added that France is gearing up for a culture of vigilance in the shortest possible time.

The material notes that the training conditions at the combat training center are as close to real battlefields as possible. Sounds, heat, and light of artillery fire are reproduced, fake mines are scattered everywhere, and radio communication can be interrupted without warning.

The 120-square-kilometer camp is unique in France. It surpasses the size of Paris and is the only place where various units of the French army, including infantry, armored vehicles, artillery, and engineers, usually scattered throughout the country, can conduct joint exercises. It is also the only place where two dozen Leclerc tanks are trained year-round.

Officers do not name potential enemies, but the training is aimed at preparing troops to combat adversaries like Russia.

Total warfare

Lessons from the Ukrainian conflict, according to officers at the training center, emphasize the importance of avoiding frontal attacks that lead to massive casualties and fail to repel the enemy.

Instead, infantry, armored vehicles, engineers, and artillery, combined with new technologies like drones that provide information back to the troops and deliver firepower on the battlefield, are expected to work together.

"The war in Ukraine reinforced the importance of combined arms combat. It’s the only way to fight," said one lieutenant colonel.

Problems on the Ukrainian battlefield

French military officials stated that armies unable to coordinate tanks, artillery, and infantry are at significant risk, as demonstrated by both sides in the war in Ukraine.

"What is dramatic in Ukraine is that you have tanks acting alone — and therefore no longer acting at all," said Colonel Axel Denis.

The inability to coordinate actions is one reason why neither Ukraine nor Russia has been able to break through the well-prepared defense dominating the more than 1000-kilometer front line.

Training conditions

The final exercise at the French training ground lasts 96 hours. Soldiers sleep an average of four hours a day, usually in uncomfortable military vehicles. They have to move every five minutes, or they will face simulated explosions.

"If their reaction is inappropriate, there's a penalty," said Colonel Axel Denis.

According to him, it's a physical confrontation, but above all, it's about the desire to persevere, fight, and dominate. Trainees participate in electronic warfare, solve logistics and chemical threat problems, and also have to make important decisions.

By 2027, the French army plans to be able to deploy a division of about 25,000 soldiers within 30 days.

NATO prepares for possible escalations

Earlier, Bild reported that NATO planned to conduct large-scale exercises involving around 90,000 military personnel in February. The scenario for the exercises was a Russian attack on Alliance territory.

At the same time, NATO's Military Committee Chairman Admiral Rob Bauer stated that the alliance needs transformation, and the West must prepare for an era in which anything can happen at any time, including the outbreak of war.

On January 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Western wavering in support for Kyiv and fears of escalation with Russia could prolong the conflict for years.