Just as the bloodletting of World War I has left the French military a firm believer in the prevalence of firepower over maneuver, so did France's defeat by Germany in 1940 led it to a similar swing in the direction of mobile warfare. Beginning in the 1950s, the French military began to experiment with organizational structures aimed at facilitating rapid battlefield maneuver, including the Javelot brigade and the 7e Division Mecanique Rapide. These organizations introduced the features that were first found in the Division Type 1967. However, shortages of modern equipment, caused in part by the economic crisis of the early 1970s and the expense of the French nuclear deterrent, meant that the five mechanized divisions that were to follow the Division Type 1967 blueprint were being constituted only very slowly. By the late 1970s it was decided to tailor the heavy maneuver forces to equipment that was actually available, and so the 5 large mechanized divisions were replaced by 8 smaller Armored Divisions, which at first consisted of only 4 maneuver regiments (by contrast, each of the 3 brigades of a mechanized division had 3 regiments), supported by an artillery regiment.

A striking feature of the French formations of '70s is the extent to which they were tank-heavy. This was particularly true of the original Armored Division organization which had 12 tank and only 6 mechanized companies. This was due to their intended mode of operations. Their tactics were closer to US Armored Cavalry Regiments (or, indeed, their own pre-WW2 division légère mécanique) in that they were not intended for holding ground. Like the DLM of 1940, the mechanized regiments were to operate like the earlier dragons portes, locating and delaying the enemy and preparing the situation for a counter stroke by the tank regiments. However, during the 1980s the heavy maneuver forces saw an increase in the proportion of infantry, through the attachment of motorized infantry divisions to the corps headquarters, addition of VAB-equipped infantry regiments to infantry divisions, and an increase in the number of infantry companies in mechanized regiments from 2 to 3.

Although France was not officially part of NATO's command structure, there was an understanding, formalized by regular joint exercises in West Germany, that France would go to the aid of NATO, should the Warsaw Pact attack.


The weak point of the French ground forces is its armored component. France's strategic nuclear deterrent took up such a large section of the defense budget that in many respects French forces lagged behind other premier NATO armies. The most notable French weakness was the failure to field a modern replacement for AMX-30 during the 1980s that was comparable to the M1, Leopard 2 or T-80.


AMX-30B tanks during attack.

The vast majority of French vehicles are wheeled, unable to fire on the move, lightly armored, and with moderate firepower. However, several vehicles have thermals. Doctrine and game style is to exclusively seek to outflank the enemy rather than engage him frontally. Head-on engagements are to be deliberately avoided except as a way to pin the enemy for an enveloping maneuver, and for that task you can take advantage of missile armed vehicles.

Historical doctrine envisaged no fighting in urban or wooded areas due to the low infantry strength of French units and concentrated Soviet artillery would bring unnecessary attrition loss. But as far as game is concerned,forest battles are excellent way to encircle AI and destroy it with ambushes and rear attacks: quick, maneuverable tactics that feel almost guerrilla-like in nature. Take advantage of very fast reconnaissance units (raise up to 20%) to ambush stranded units and harass enemy rear. (it is an enormous satisfaction to take out T-XXs with rear shots from AML-90!).

In this regard the French army differs from West Germany or US Army which, although also a maneuver-oriented force, are intended to fight for every kilometer of battlefield, or Britain, which is oriented to slow firepower.