Following the near disastrous Central Asian War the French military went through a profound review of its structures. Unfortunately the implementation of this review was stymied by the priorities of the Military government of France, so that during the War of German Reunification much of the army was still based on the old model. The revival of Imperial government however has led to a rapid implementation of reforms and re-equipment programmes. France will not be caught out so easily again.
French Army Corps are somewhat different from their counterparts in other nations army's. They come in two main varieties. Territorial Corps are responsible for controlling the military operations and liaising with military Gendarmerie operations over a given territory. Manouvre Corps are operational units without territorial responsibilities.
The majority of the strength of the French Army is embodied in these units. These Corps often cover very large areas of land, but in wartime will mobilise entirely becoming field Corps and leaving behind much of the common administrative work behind. These Corps belong to French Territorial, Northern and Southern African and Colonial Armies. The standard organisation of these Corps include a Division Blindée, two Divisions de la Marche, a Division Aeromobile and three Divisions d' Infanterie.
The Manoeuvre Corps are drawn from the Armée de la Manouvre, but also include the two core world Force d' Actions Rapide. They have no territorial defence responsibilities and so concentrate entirely on either war fighting skills or intervention planning and operations.
The Armée de la Manouvre has four Corps. Each of which has a Division Blindée, two Divisions de la Marche and a Division Aeromobile. The Corps acts as a hub around which all the divisions operate. The DM acts as the main screening and striking element, whilst the DB provides the Corps' integral assault capability. The DAM provides wide ranging scout and attack capability. This Corps system has arisen from the lessons of the Central Asian War and has yet to be used properly in combat, although the 3e Corps did use some of the operational concepts in the Battle of Picardy.
The two FAR are clearing houses for specialist troops to conduct whatever tasks the French government requires, and have never operated as a proper Corps command.
Division Blindée (DB)
The DB is a heavy armoured division equipped with ground tanks and helicopter gunships. It is primarily designed for defence and deliberate attack missions, opening the way for accompanying Division's de la Marche to attack into the enemy's rear areas. A DB has a recce regiment, two ground tank regiments, two infantry battalions, a gunship regiment (Régiment d' Hélicopteres de Combat) and a combat walker CW battalion. It is supported by two artillery regiments and an engineer regiment, it is commanded by a Command and Logistics group (Régiment de Commandement et de Soutain).
It is normal practise for the unit to fight in two 'Demi-Brigades', sometimes known as a 'Groupement Mobile'. Each Demi-Brigade is commanded by a Général de Brigade and his staff from the RCS. The standard DM formation is of one infantry battalion and one armoured regiment, supported by two companies of combat walkers. The rest of the divisional assets are commanded directly by the Général de Division.
The DB's are concentrated on the Core worlds, and only rarely are elements of these forces deployed to the colonies. The DB's are strictly manoeuvre forces and one is present in each Earth or Tirane based Corps. The DB is in fact only slightly bigger than many armoured brigades in other Armies. However its structure reflects France's unique way of doing things.
The DB's are currently equipped with CC-21 groundtanks, ACVI-4 IFV, AB-84 recce vehicles and BH-21 combat walkers.
Division de la Marche (DM)
The DM now forms the centre piece of France's manoeuvre forces, replacing most of the old Division Blindée's. Towards the end Central Asian War the DB's had proven too immobile to resist the large numbers of Manchurian formations taking the field. Hampered by their complex logistical structures and non-ACV rear-echelon vehicles they were always in danger of becoming swamped and cut off. Indeed at the Battle of Orsk, the 2e DB and its attached GMLE (Foreign Legion mobile brigade group) were pinned down and surrounded. Their logistics running short they were finally overwhelmed by Manchurian heavy units, with only a small force of Legionnaires escaping.
The DM concept was conceived to maximise the mobility and firepower of the divisional structure around a Corps 'hub' providing heavier support and aerial firepower. The DM name was chosen to reflect a new 'fluid' style of command and control, a move away from the rigid tactics that had proven so costly in the CAW. The DM system had just been introduced in time for the War of German Reunification and these units played an important part in stopping the German Army on the Somme after the Germans flanked the main French position on the Rhine.
One feature of the DM which distinguishes it from other nations Armoured formations is the lack of integral gunship support. During the CAW French hover units outstripped their gunships in the mobile warfare that characterised the last stages of that war. The extra logistics required to support the gunships also slowed the divisions operational mobility. The DM, like the DB normally fights in pairs of integrated infantry and cavalry units normally described as Demi-Brigades or GM's.
The DM have a standard organisation of three armoured regiments and three infantry battalions. The paired infantry-armoured demi-brigades normally swap sub-units to increase flexibility for which ever tasks emerge. One reconnaissance regiment, one engineer regiment and two artillery regiments round out the divisional compliment. The exceptions are the two DM's deployed to Aurore, of which only one took any sub-units, which are organised differently. However the training of the DM staff in fluid operations and using their initiative has done much to stabilise the security situation in that colony.
Most DM's in the Armée de la Manouvre have converted to the AC-12 hovertank and the ACVI-4 IFV, however some in the African Armies retain the older AC-10 or AC-8 and the ACVI-3.
Division Légère Blindée (DLB)
The DLB have recently been the most controversial of French units. The old organisation of the French Armée Territoriale had several DLB complementing the DI that made up the bulk of the force. In addition the FAR on Earth and Tirane had élite DLB as part of their organisation. Whilst the FAR DLB performed excellently in the Central Asian War, those from the ATF came badly unstuck when faced with regular Manchurian troops. A similar pattern was followed in the war with Germany. Consequently the non-FAR DLB on Earth were all disbanded and their resources joined to those of the DI.
The two FAR DLB are on the cutting edge of current French tactical thinking about the deployment of light armoured forces. Following the debacles in Elysia 2e DLB has been experimenting with new concepts and has recently become ready for deployment and 1e DLB has followed suit. Using the new ACL-7 tanks the force is set-up for rapid armoured interventions off-World, but can deploy on Tirane or Earth if required. The Division is intended for rapid air-deployments enabling large armoured formations to be swiftly deployed in the event of any crisis.
The units usually fight in 'Demi-Brigades' of one armoured and one infantry unit, with units interchanging units down to platoon level. The DLB is organised with 1 recce regiments, 3 light armoured regiments, 3 armoured inf battalion, 2 art regiments and 1 RCS.
The DLB in the colonies keep the old organisation as above except with no recce regiment and only one artillery regiment. However they have been re-equipping with old AC-8 hovertanks, and AVCI-3's to replace the slow wheeled vehicles.
Division Aeromobile (DAM)
There are currently two types of DAM in the French inventory. One is primarily an anti-tank formation, consisting of anti-tank gunships and one infantry battalion to provide a 'pivot'. The other is found in the Colonies and Southern Africa, which is an air-portable light infantry intervention unit with four infantry battalions.
Armée de la Manouvre, Armée de Tirane and 4e Corps DAM are attached to Corps to provide gunship support to the front-line DM's. They take on reconnaissance, screening and direct support missions. They also include a single light infantry battalion which is heavily equipped with man-portable anti-tank weaponry. This battalion is designed to either be inserted behind enemy lines to interdict supply lines or to plug gaps in French lines. However these battalions proved too lightly equipped during the War of German Reunification when several were overrun and annihilated attempting to delay German forces along the line of the Meuse. The DAM has three gunship regiments and one transport tilt-rotor regiment in addition to the light infantry unit.
The other DAM are composed of four infantry battalions, drawn from Legion, Marine or crack local troops. They are supported by two transport helicopter regiments (Régiment d' Hélicopteres de Manouvre) and one gunship regiment. They are rapid-reaction units usually on low standby times. These units in the African Armies usually work closely with the FAR, as they will often be securing their entry to theatre.
However it is widely believed that both DAM organisations will be substantially overhauled in coming years. The success or otherwise of the experimental I Régiment Etranger d' Aero-Infantrie in fighting on Aurore might well provide a template for further reform.
Division d' Infanterie (DI)
Division's d' Infanterie provide the bulk of the French Army's manpower. They are trained for defensive operations and for missions in urban and forest environments. In addition they can be called upon to support the local government in the face of unrest, this is a common mission in Central Africa. Mobility is provided by lightly armoured wheeled vehicles. The DI has a recce regiment, a CW battalion (although this is sometimes omitted), five infantry battalions and a gunship regiment. Support comes from two artillery regiments and an engineer regiment. The DI units generally operate in two Brigades.
The DI vary greatly in ability, those in the French Territorial Army are made up of short-service volunteers undertaking 2 years service. Those on Tirane are entirely composed of professional soldiers. Those on other worlds may be composed of units from a variety of sources. Training is also another factor that varies greatly, with some units being exceptionally well trained at a battalion level, but rarely exercising at a low level. Similarly SSV units can be accused on concentrating entirely on the threat from Germany to the exclusion of all other threats.
Several DI saw action in the Central Asian War, especially in urban warfare and providing security for logistics bases from roving Manchurian mobile units. They also featured heavily in the southern parts of the CAR in the bitter campaign against Islamic Guerrillas which went largely unreported. During the War of German Reunification DI's were heavily involved in the fighting in the Rhineland, during the abortive French attack on Stuttgart. The unfortunate 64e DI stationed in the Ardennes was overrun in hours by the German III Corps, which caused the collapse of the French defence line.
The Division Alpins and the Divisions d' Infanterie Légère are almost identically equipped but have much lower scales of vehicles and heavy support weapons as these units are trained for operations in jungles or mountain warfare. Although over the years they have also proved their worth in conventional operations.
Most DI are equipped with the ABR-76 and VCIR, however some have light civilian vehicles instead. Many colonial DI drawn from militia battalions are equipped with equipment captured from the Manchurian's during the CAW.
Division Parachutiste (DP)
There are two DP currently in the French order of battle, one on Earth and one on Tirane. Their role is that of an infantry heavy rapid-reaction force, they can also serve as counter-insurgency forces. The DP are manned by metropolitan paratroop units, whilst both train mainly for on-planet duties they can be called on to serve off-world if needed. The 11e DP saw repeated action as the 11e Division d' Intervention in the Central Asian War, and undertook some long range raids behind the German lines as well as parts of the division fighting in Flanders.
The DP have a light armoured/recce regiment, four infantry battalions, two CW battalions, on gunship and one artillery regiment. The DP has the usual RCS. The usual configuration in combat is for the DP to divide into two brigades of a CW, and two infantry battalions.
Division d' Infanterie Marine (DIMa)
There are currently two DIMa, one serving with both the FAR on Earth and Tirane. Although organised in a similar manner they actually have quite different roles. The 2e DIMa on Tirane is trained and equipped for low level, long duration intervention tasks. The 2e DIMa was involved in the final years of the Elysian conflict and was repatriated with the final surrender. The division was equipped with the ABR-76 family of vehicles.
The Earth based 9e DIMa started off with a similar organisation to its sister division, but was forced to change by the Central Asian War. The French forces required rapid, hover mobile screening forces as they were being frequently out manoeuvred by their Manchurian opponents. The success of the GMLE (Foreign Legion Mobile Group (Brigade)) caused the DIMa to be re-equipped with AC-8's and AVCI-3's and shipped to the Central Asian Republic. Although they lacked the glamour of their Legion counter-parts they did as good a job, and the success of these two units inspired the subsequent DM reforms.
On their return to France the 9e DIMa retained the armoured role, in conjunction with their amphibious tasking. They were one of the few units to be equipped with the AC-12 at the start of the war with Germany, and acted as mobile reserves and as a spearhead in the Stuttgart operation. The 9e DIMa is very likely to be amongst the first French reinforcements for the French Arm in the event of serious fighting with the Kafers.
Both DIMa have one armoured regiment, three infantry battalions, and one each artillery, engineer and gunship regiments in addition to the usual RCS.
Brigade d' Intervention
The BI are crack light rapid colonial intervention forces designed to work closely alongside the MSIF. They are manned solely with elite Legion and Marine Paratroopers. Each brigade has one CW and two infantry battalions, in addition to small artillery, engineer and support assets.