PARIS - French President Francois Hollande has announced a roughly $4 billion boost in defense spending to shore up security and fight terrorism. The country remains on high alert following January’s attacks in Paris.
Speaking after a defense meeting Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande said the spending increase will take place over four years, starting in 2016.
"The extra funds will go to boosting personnel and equipment to shore up security and the fight against terrorism. Of the 10,000 soldiers deployed across the country since the Paris terrorist attacks, 7,000 will become a permanent force," he said.
Hollande said the money will also help protect French forces overseas, in places like the Central African Republic, the Sahel region and Iraq. He said France had a duty to protect those who came under threat, but also defend the country’s security. He said security, protection and independence are non-negotiable principles.
In addition, an estimated 18,500 defense jobs are to be saved out of 34,000 the government had previously planned to eliminate.
France has been on high alert since Islamists gunned down 17 people in the Paris area in January. Last week, the government announced it had foiled five terrorist attacks in recent months, including one targeting churches near the capital.
The country is particularly worried about the rise of home-grown extremism, with authorities saying the risk has never been so high. The government estimates that hundreds of French have left to join Jihadist movements in the Middle East. Hundreds of others remain in France, posing a risk at home.
On Wednesday, opposition lawmakers from the center and far-right criticized the defense funding boost as insufficient to deal with the challenges that France faces.