France creates National Guard to improve security
PARIS – France's government has approved a decree creating a National Guard to bolster security against extremist attacks across the country.
The Cabinet adopted the measure during its weekly meeting on Wednesday.
The Guard, which is expected to grow to 84,000 people by 2018, is a new, enhanced version of the existing reserve forces. Following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris last year, President Francois Hollande proposed creation of the force to include citizens willing to get involved in serving their country.
Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the creation of the Guard "is a response to the need for an adaptation of our security and defense strategy."
"It is also a response to the patriotic spirit that was expressed after the attacks," he told reporters following the Cabinet meeting.
Guard members' tasks will vary from patrolling the streets of big cities to securing major sport and festive events to working in military staff offices.
They will be fully integrated into regular troops and police forces for a certain period of the year -- from few days to several months. They can be students, job seekers, employees as well as retired police officers and military veterans.
Regular military and police reserves now include 63,000 people.
Students under the age of 25 who join the Guard a minimum of 37 days a year for five years will get a state grant of 100 euros ($110) per month.
Businesses which allow their employees to enlist -- up to the legal limit of 10 days a year -- will be granted tax cuts.
Authorities want to be able to deploy more than 9,000 Guard members each day on the ground in 2018, through a rotation system.
The government hopes this will notably help relieving regular troops and police that face additional activity as the country is still under a state of emergency.
Following Paris attacks last year, France has deployed 10,000 troops to patrol sensitive sites such as airports, train stations and tourist areas.