French military chief: New threats require more spending

France's military chief is urging the next president to ratchet up defense spending to better confront Islamic extremists and authoritarian states that increasingly rely on military muscle.

Gen. Pierre de Villiers, chief of the general staff, said in an appeal published Wednesday in business daily Les Echos that attacks on France and other European countries in recent years showed that "peace no longer happens by itself."

He called for upgrading nuclear arsenals and other equipment, and boosting defense spending over the next five years to 2 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 1.77 percent currently. France had promised such an increase to NATO by 2025, but de Villiers urged a faster effort.

France's military, among Europe's biggest, is active in anti-extremist operations in Syria and Iraq and other missions.