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Local authorities to fight closures

Protests expected in towns across France as bases to close in massive military shake-up.

Local authorities have promised strong resistance to the government defence plans which involved the closure of 50 military bases.

Prime minister François Fillon said money saved would be poured back into the armed forces and that economic aid would be given to towns and villages affected by the closures.

Politicians in several communes across the country have vowed to fight the reforms.

The sites which face closure include regiments, logistic centres and air force bases.

One naval base and ten air bases will also be closed and 20 regiments will be disbanded.

By the end of the reform, the military will have 54,000 fewer personnel, and will count 131,000 soldiers, 50,000 air personnel and 44,000 people in the navy.

Mr Fillon said that while the territory of France was no longer at risk of being invaded, homeland security was a priority with a need to focus more on threats from terrorism, cyber-attacks and natural disasters.

Bringing France closer to the United States on defence, Sarkozy has confirmed France's plans to return to Nato's integrated command structure, which it left in 1966 when President Charles de Gaulle rejected US dominance of the transatlantic alliance.

France will spend a total of €377 billion from 2009 to 2020 on defence, including €200 billion on new equipment under the new plan.

France currently has the largest army in the EU, at 270,000.

Some of the France's four permanent bases in Africa will be shut down, reflecting new strategic priorities. Sarkozy announced in January plans to open a permanent base in Abu Dhabi, France's first in the Gulf.

Bases Affected
From 2009 the government will close the 57th Artillery Regiment in Bitche (Moselle – 1,138 stafff), the 601st Ttraffic Security of Arras (Pas-de-Calais, 730 staff), an airbase at Toulouse and the 12th artillery regiment of Haguenau (Bas-Rhin, 664 staff).

In 2010, the 18th Communications Regiment of Bretteville-sur-Odon (Calvados, 953 staff) will be shut. The 2nd regiment of Génie at Metz (874 staff) will be disbanded and the air base at Colmar-Meyenheim (Haut-Rhin) with 1,276 staff will be closed. The town of Illkirch-Graffenstaden in the Bas-Rhin will lose the 1st Engineers Regiment (1,042 staff) but will become home to the 16th Chasseurs Battalion which will move from Saarburg, Germany.
In 2011 the list of closures includes the naval airbase at Nîmes Garons (1,332 staff) the airbase at Reims (1,545 staff) and Taverny (Val-d'Oise, 986 staff), the 42nd Communications Regiment at Laval (Mayenne 939 staff) and the 519th Train Regiment at La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime, 992 people).
The 503rd Transport Regiment of Martignas-sur-Jalle (Gironde, 1,112 staff ) will move to Nîmes, the 1st Medical Regiment of Chatel Saint-Germain (Moselle, 1,055 people) will move to La Valbonne (Ain) and the Marching Regiment of Chad in Noyon (Oise, 1,158 staff) will move to Colmar-Meyenheim.
Further closures are foreseen after 2011; the 517th Transport Regiment of Déols (Indre-et-Loire, 966 people), the 402nd Artillery Regiment of Châlons-en-Champagne (Marne, 1,046 staff), the 8th Regiment of Artillery of Commercy (Meuse, 849 staff), the airbase at Metz-Frescaty (Moselle, 2,502 staff), 103 de Cambrai-Haynecourt (Nord, 1,364 staff), 217 de Brétigny-sur-Orge (Essonne, 1,955 staff).
In France’s overseas territories Martinique will lose an airbase as will French Polynesia.


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