After a year without, Covid-19 requires, France on Wednesday July 14 resumed the tradition of the military parade on the occasion of its national day, but caution remained in order as the country tries to avoid a fourth wave epidemic of the highly contagious Delta variant.
In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic’s explosion, the July 14 parade had been canceled – unheard of since World War II – replaced by a ceremony at the Place de la Concorde.
This year marks the return of troops, flags and armored vehicles to the famous Parisian avenue of the Champs-Élysées, but access to the show was limited: spectators had to be equipped with a health pass and wear a mask. The gauge in the stands has also been set at 10,000 people, against 25,000 in normal times.
Pressure on the unvaccinated
At a time when the virus is on the rise in France, President Emmanuel Macron put pressure on the unvaccinated on Monday: the vaccination of caregivers will now be compulsory and a health pass will soon be requested at the entrance of most of the public places. For the military, the question has already been settled: for a few months now, French troops sent on foreign operations have been obliged to be vaccinated.
The 2021 edition of the parade mobilized 5,000 participants, including 4,300 soldiers on foot, 73 planes, 24 helicopters, 221 vehicles and 200 horses from the Republican Guard.
The Head of State attended alongside his Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General François Lecointre, who will give way a week later to the current Chief of Staff of the Army of Earth, the legionary Thierry Burkhard.
‘Winning the future’
‘Winning the future’ is the theme of this 2021 edition, with a double reference to the health battle led by the French, but also to the necessary preparation of the armies for ‘tougher, so-called high intensity engagements, by relying on high-tech equipment ‘, according to the military governor of Paris, General Christophe Abad.
The Griffon armored personnel carrier, a new generation personnel carrier, marched for the first time. It should soon be deployed in the Sahel.
After the traditional air parade opened by the Patrouille de France, a contingent of European special forces participating in the Takuba task force launched the parade on foot on the Champs-Élysées.
Eight nations (France, Belgium, Estonia, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Portugal, Sweden) contribute to this group initiated by France to accompany Malian forces in combat. Takuba will occupy a central place in the future anti-jihadist system in the Sahel, where Paris intends to reduce its military personnel after eight years of presence.
Tribute to municipal police officers
For the first time in Paris, municipal police officers, in this case from the city of Nice (south-east), marched on the front line of two attacks in recent years: the ram truck attack which left 86 dead on the 14th. July 2016, then the assault on the Basilica of Nice in October 2020, in which three people were killed.
The Navy honored its submariners, with the presence of the crew of the Emerald nuclear attack submarine (ANS), returning from a seven-month mission in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
The Air Force has scrolled through its new Space Command, created in 2019.
The Army Health Service (SSA), very mobilized since the start of the pandemic which has killed more than 111,000 people in France, was also represented.
The two-hour parade ended in music with a choir of 120 young people. Several activities were then to be offered in the capital. The public could donate blood at the Hôtel des Invalides for the benefit of soldiers wounded in operations. In the evening, a fireworks display will sparkle the sky above the Eiffel Tower.