40 Years Later, France Returns to NATO

Seeking leaner army, Sarkozy reintegrates with alliance
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2008 6:19 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, second right, participates in the North Atlantic Council Summit meeting at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania Thursday, April 3, 2008.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – More than four decades after France withdrew from NATO military command, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that his nation's military will once again integrate itself with American and European forces. France's first new national defense policy in 14 years constitutes a major shift away from earlier Gaullist ideals of self-sufficiency, the New York Times reports.

Sarkozy's plan cuts the French military personnel by about 54,000—a substantial reduction designed to create a leaner army with better intelligence and modern equipment. The French military will concentrate less on unilateral actions, for example in former French colonies in Africa, and more on joint operations with NATO and the EU. "We see the trans-Atlantic relationship as a key to European security and French security," said one defense official.