Reflecting France's many overseas commitments, French paratroopers from the 3rd Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment evacuated noncombatants from the Republic of the Congo in August 1998. The decision to end conscription and rely on a smaller force may make such operations increasingly difficult.
Since 1996, France has been embarked on a radical transformation of its military, replacing its Cold War conscript army with a light, flexible force capable of expeditionary operations. Because France and the United States face similar questions in their efforts to prepare for future conflicts, U.S. military professionals should find the nature of the French efforts of great interest. Moreover, just as the need for greater jointness in modern warfare has come to be widely recognized, the need for enhanced combined capabilities has become equally important in this era of multilateralism and coalition-based operations. U.S. forces have operated alongside the French in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, and Albania—and are almost certain to do so again.