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France Axes Regiment, Restructures Air Bases Amid Crisis

Oct. 4, 2013 - 04:26PM   |  
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PARIS — France said Oct. 3 it would get rid of a regiment whose soldiers fought in the two world wars and Gulf conflict, among others, as it restructures the military to battle financial woes.

Four Frence Air Force sites also will be restructured next year, the Defense Ministry announced.

The cuts are part of a proposed reform of the military that seeks to balance the need to protect France with budgetary constraints as the economy struggles.

Later Oct. 3, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due to provide further details about the reform package, which plans to cut 23,500 jobs in the military between 2014 and 2019.

The affected 4th Regiment of Dragons is one of France’s four heavy tank units, and is composed of 1,000 active and reserve soldiers and civilians.

They will vacate the premises in their southern base of Carpiagne next year, and the prestigious 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, which consists of 900 members of the elite Foreign Legion, will move there instead

Four Air Force sites also will fected, among them a base in eastern France that lose its ground-based air defense squadron. The same 116 air base also will see “reduced activity” by its Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets, the ministry said.

Another air base in Burgundy — one of the Air Force’s oldest — will see its “permanent aerial activity” stopped. Its training squadron, for instance, will move to another base.

The proposed reform package will be examined Oct. 21 in the Senate before going through the National Assembly. the lower house of France’s parliament.

The 2014-’19 job cuts come on top of 54,000 positions eliminated as part of a previous reform effort.

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