The riders and the music of the Republican Guard, the Foreign Legion with its cadence of “88 steps per minute”, the tricolor Alphajets of the Patrouille de France. The July 14 military parade resumes its traditional colors on the Champs-Élysées this year, after a restricted ceremony on the Place de la Concorde in 2020, due to the Covid-19.
→ IN 2020. July 14: no parade but a military ceremony and a tribute to caregivers
As tradition dictates, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron and members of the government, as well as several thousand spectators equipped with a health pass and a mask, must attend the parade which mobilizes 5,000 participants. This parade will be the last of General François Lecointre to his post of Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. The “CEMA” is due to step down on July 21, after four years in office. He will be replaced by a legionary, General Thierry Burkhard, current Chief of Staff of the Army.
“Takuba”, the task force fighting against terrorist groups in the Sahel
After the flypast, the task force “Takuba” will take the stage first, leading the parade on foot. This grouping of European special forces advises and supports Malian units in combat. Eight countries (Belgium, Estonia, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Portugal, Sweden and France) participate in this force which fights against terrorist groups in the Sahel. It’s on this “Pillar” that Emmanuel Macron wants to refocus the French device, when operation “Barkhane” begins, by the end of 2021, to withdraw its soldiers furthest north from Mali.
→ ANALYSIS. End of Barkhane, change of staff: a new strategic cycle opens for the French army
Currently, “Takuba” has 600 soldiers, including 300 French and 300 Europeans. The troops are distributed in Gao and Menaka, in Mali, within two mixed units, Franco-Estonian and Franco-Czech, and a rapid reaction force of 150 Swedes.
“The Marianne mission was Apollo 11”
The crew of the nuclear attack submarine (ANS) Emerald is also in the spotlight this July 14th. Its submariners returned to Toulon in April, after a mission lasting more than seven months, in an unusual area for a French submarine: the Indo-Pacific, including a passage in the South China Sea. More than 15,000 kilometers from the metropolitan coast, “The Marianne mission was Apollo 11”, jokes a senior officer to underline the challenge of planning in logistics and supplies.
Some units are marching for the first time. This is the case of the École des aspirants de Saint-Cyr – Coëtquidan, officially baptized on July 6. With the Saint-Cyr Special Military School and the Combined Arms Military School (Emia), this third establishment gives legitimacy to contracted officers and students of grandes écoles trained in one year. The aspirants now have a flag and an outfit that they are showing on July 14th.
Entitled “Winning the future”, the 2021 edition of the parade is also a showcase for new technologies that illustrate the battles of the future, for which the armies are preparing. Some equipment is paraded for the first time, such as the Griffon armored personnel carrier, a personnel carrier intended to replace the front armored vehicle (VAB). Part of the army modernization program, Scorpio, it is being deployed in the Sahel.
“What makes a revolution is its transmission and communication system”, explains Lieutenant-Colonel Guerric, responsible for unit training in the 1st Infantry Regiment. With six wheels, the Griffon is taller than the VAB on four wheels, but above all more protective for fighters. “Its center of gravity allows it to better resist attacks by improvised explosive device (IED). Each soldier is in his small cockpit, his head propped up, his feet raised, protected from others in the event of an impact, well strapped in the event of an overturn ”. IEDs are responsible for a third of the deaths among French soldiers in the Sahel.