PARIS — The new head of France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement, or DGA, procurement office will be Joël Barre, a decision made after a rigorous selection process, according to the Armed Forces Ministry.
“Joël Barre has an exceptional track record, as much in the DGA as in industry and CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales),” the ministry in a statement.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has every confidence in him, the ministry added.
A burning issue for the incoming DGA chief will be how to implement the €850 million (U.S. $1 billion) defense budget cut this year, as decisions will be needed on which programs will be delayed.
“All the options are being studied,” a DGA official said.
The DGA head will present in the next few weeks to the armed forces minister proposals to improve spending plans so they meet the needs of the military, the ministry said. “He will look for cutting cost and timetables,” the ministry noted.
Innovation and digital technology will be “at the center of his action,” with their closer integration in programs, the ministry said. The DGA chief will also propose measures to boost French arms exports and so support France in the world arena.
As the defense budget will win a sharp increase in 2018 as part of a plan to reach 2 percent of gross domestic product in 2025, so Parly expects the Armed Forces Ministry “to improve its contribution to the economy, innovation and employment,” the ministry said.
The DGA will be tasked, along with the chief of staff and secretary general of the administration, to draw up the new multiyear budget law, the ministry explained.
Barre was deputy managing director at CNES, the French space agency, before President Emmanuel Macron approved his selection by Parly. In 1979, Barre joined the DGA and went on to work as program director on the ASMP, an airborne nuclear-tipped missile, and also the Helios military spy satellite.
Barre joined CNES in 1997, went on to work on rocket engines at Snecma and came back to the space agency in 2012 as deputy managing director, the No. 2 position there.
The appointment of Barre follows the departure of Laurent Collet-Billon, whose mandate as DGA head expired in June after nine years in the top job at the procurement office.
Macron has said the 2018 defense budget will rise to €34.2 billion from €32.7 billion this year, of which €850 million will be cut.