French President Hollande says France to form National Guard amid spate of terror attacks

French President Francois Hollande confirmed that a National Guard would be formed from existing reserve forces to better protect citizens facing terror attacks.
French President Francois Hollande confirmed that a National Guard would be formed from existing reserve forces to better protect citizens facing terror attacks.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Thursday (July 28) confirmed that a National Guard would be formed from existing reserve forces to better protect citizens facing terror attacks.

A "defence council" to be held early next month will hammer out the force's hierarchy and command structure, Mr Hollande's office said in a statement.

Parliamentary consultations will follow in September in the hope that "this force can be created as fast as possible to protect the French".

The announcement came after France suffered two attacks in less than a fortnight this month - in a bloody series that began with the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings - and the government has come under fierce criticism for alleged security lapses.

Calls arose for the National Guard following the Nov 13, 2015 massacre in Paris that claimed 130 lives.

The President said he hopes the guard, made up of volunteers from the police, paramilitary police and military, will be operational by early autumn.

Mr Hollande had previously considered boosting existing reserves among the three groups.

In this framework, some 15,000 operational reservists should be available by the end of the month "to ensure security for various events of the summer", Mr Hollande said while on a visit to south-western France.

Earlier this month he said the Defence Ministry would call up 28,000 reservists for the coming weeks, while the paramilitary police will tap an extra 10,000 men and women who retired less than two years ago.

In January, he called for the number of army reserves to be boosted from the current 28,000 to 40,000 by 2019.

France has not had a national guard since 1872.

Members of the very first one, formed in 1789 at the outset of the French Revolution over fears of a royalist coup, wore a blue, white and red rosette on their hats - the origin of the French national colours.