* The French government released a much-delayed White Paper [PDF, in French] to refresh France’s defense outlook. What happened since the previous Livre Blanc published in 2008? The global financial crisis and the accelerated degradation of public finances in many Euro countries. Chocked with deficits running all the way back to 1974, France will pursue further defense personnel and armament reductions, without touching its core nuclear deterrence or aspirations to be heard worldwide. The building of a second aircraft carrier is shelved for good, and recent rumors of cutting Rafale purchases to 225 over the life of the program are confirmed by a description of what French forces should look like by 2025. Helicopters, transport aircraft and tanks will also see reduced quantities, while special forces are the rare recipient of additional resources.
* This new document tries to build up on the strategic outline from 2008 – and thus says France will continue to do a little bit of everything – though it refocuses projection ambitions mostly to Europe and Africa. Budget details will be discussed in Parliament starting this summer in the Loi de programmation militaire (LPM) legislation for 2014-2019. Whether France will have the means to fulfill even this new budget-driven strategy is far from certain. Something’s gotta give, and operational readiness looks likely to get the short end of this stick.
* Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute – a government-funded think tank – is worried about [PDF] a similar outcome in his country.
* With the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria’s forces, a “line has been crossed” says President Obama. Crossed to what? “Not an on/off switch.” You figure it out.
* US Air Force Secretary Michael Donley will step down on June 21.
* Bharat Electronics and Hindustan Aeronautics are leading R&D spending among state-owned Indian defense firms, according to the Ministry of Defence. Their smaller peers are spending a pittance on research.
* China has denied that it’s trespassing the line of actual control with India in the Ladakh region. For now the two countries are jaw-jawing over the issue, a lack of assertiveness that some in India loudly decry. Business Standard | Times of India | Hindustan Times | Indian Defence Review | Economic Times (opinion column).
* Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) will sell 14 heavyweight protected recovery trucks to the Danish armed forces, equipped with an American towing module. Deliveries planned in 2014/15.