L' Armée Impériale de France
in 2300 AD
The French Army is one of the largest and certainly the most capable of humanities fighting forces. Also it is one of the most diverse in its composition, drawing soldiers from Europe, Africa and the colonies, as well as enlisting foreigners in its famous Légion Étrangère. Today it is the bulwark of human resistance to the alien Kafers.
The French Army in the 20th Century had a bitter time. The glories of Napoleon had long faded and the two bloody conflicts with Germany had ended in draining, pyrrhric victories and the humiliation of occupation. After the war the army became involved in the long fight to disengage from France's first colonial Empire and as a result of political instability at home became increasingly politicised.
However the French took a decision to stay out of the looming 3rd World War and concentrate on the development and protection of the Francophonie an economic union of European and African French speaking states that would eventually become a political union, and later still the 3rd French Empire. It was at this time that the French Army was used ruthlessly in pursuit of the protection of French interests, and would become the paramount force in global military affairs.
It was the Army that laid the foundations for the so-called French Peace that enabled humanities long and slow recovery from the after-effects of the nuclear war. The army would also intervene directly in the internal politics of many of the nations comprising the Francophonie and once again Algeria was brought into the French sphere. Slowly many of the African nations were politically integrated into the French Union and their armies swallowed up into the expanding French Army, which after this time was never completely 'French' again.
The discovery of FTL travel and the establishment of French colonies created another role for the Army. Colonists flooded from the French Union into many diverse and challenging colony worlds. But the humiliating Alpha Centauri War with Argentina caused the French to send military garrisons to protect their colonists. Initially these were provided by Marines and the Legion, but soon colonial and militia regiments were being raised to supplement the regulars.
The French Army has always had a more political role than other western armies, primarily because of France's often chronic political instability. Indeed across the whole spectrum of the Francophonie sometimes perhaps the Army provided the only unifying element. However France's involvement in the bloody Central Asian War during the 2280's changed the militaries involvement with the central government in Paris. The war was badly misconceived, and the capabilities and willingness to fight of the Manchurians badly underestimated. French forces generally fought well, but were hampered by half-hearted political support. France and Russia were on the brink of defeat and only saved by Japanese intervention.
At the wars end in 2287 returning leaders led by the 'Les Colonels', a group of highly decorated veteran combat officers, spoke out loud and often about the political malaise and lack of support for the military. The shaky 12th Republic didn't want to deal with the opprobrium raised by the Colonels and tried to get them posted off-world or back to the peacekeeping forces in the Central Asian Republic. However the fiery Parachute Colonel Phillipe Kiefer refused to keep silent and published numerous tracts in the national press. Eventually the government jailed him on spurious 'national security' charges. The 'Kiefer Affair' coincided with the final blocking of a defence bill which utterly exasperated the GQG (High Command), and using public support for the Colonels and Kiefer the military launched a coup. In the early hours of Bastille Day, 2289 the veteran paras of the 11e DI were on the streets of Paris and the 12th Republic was over-thrown by the military Junta.
Unfortunately the Junta had none of the reforming zeal of the Colonels and often little sympathy with them. And whilst a series of military reforms were introduced the Junta seemed more interested about handing out monopolies of key industries to friendly businessmen. The malaise in the Army continued almost unabated, and the much needed restructuring highlighted by the Central Asian War was slow in coming. The Junta took little interest in the independence campaign underway in the colony of Elysia on Joi, resorting only to increasingly heavy-handed measures.
The Junta was also taken somewhat by surprise by the Reunification of the northern and eastern German states under Hannover's auspices. The increasing pressure being put on France's closest ally Bavaria to come under the new union was also disdainfully dismissed by the Junta. When the new Germany Army crossed into Bavaria against only scattered resistance the French Army was caught unawares with heavy commitments in the Central Asian Republic and with the guerrilla conflict on Joi. They were able only to protect those Bavarian soldiers and units who opted to oppose the Reunification as they crossed the border into France.
Humiliated the Junta held a full scale mobilisation of the mainly conscript French territorial defence forces (DOT), and neglected to recall those elements of the Manouvre Army from the CAR or bring in substantial reinforcements from Africa or the Colonies. By these measures the military government managed to alarm the Germans without actually providing themselves with the numbers of troops that would actually be required to liberate Bavaria.
When war actually came French operations were limited to a slow moving, slogging match through the heavily urbanised Rhineland that was easily contained by the Germans. Germany's assault was far more effective as fast moving columns of hover-mobile armour punched through a hole created in the defences of the Ardennes. The French mobile reserves from the Manouvre Army were able to eventually bring the assault to a halt on the Somme in the Battle of Picardy. In fact at this stage the initiative was beginning to swing to the French, but the Junta had lost the moral battle and pushed for an armistice.
The Armistice was a stunning victory for an overstretched Germany, she gained recognition of her new borders, tied up French units that might have intervened in rebellious Flanders, and created the impression of a young, ambitious country that united the German people. For the Junta it was an utter humiliation, and it was swept from power on the election of Ruffin's 'Meritocracy' which included several of the Colonels. As in Central Asia the Army had mostly fought well, but the public perception of the defeat and army bungling meant that morale hit rock bottom. The French Army once again became the butt of cruel jokes across Europe.
The new incumbents in the Defence Ministries were determined to rectify this situation, and defence spending was vastly increased. The long delayed structural reforms were rushed in and re-equipment programs swelled the order books of French factories. This regeneration of the Army was part of the reason for Ruffin's eventual election as Emperor. The Army has recently been engaged heavily against the alien Kafers on Aurore on the frontier of the French Arm. Its good showing has started to regain some confidence in its abilities.
The structure of the French Imperial Army is unique, a result of its long historical evolution. However when organised for war the Army acts in a unified manner, crossing the sometimes artificial boundaries described below, which have long been blurred in any case. Field Armies and Divisions will be composed of different proportions of these troop types depending on its basing location.
French divisional structure is described here.
The French Imperial Army is divided into 6 separate armies, five on Earth, one on Tirane and one covering the remaining colonies. In addition there are two independent formations the Force d' Action Rapide and the crack Troupes d' Intervention Spatial.
The French Imperial Army has a vast array of armoured, cavalry and infantry regiments and battalions, most of whom have long and unique histories.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch