Pierre de Villiers

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Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon
Pierre de Villiers par Claude Truong-Ngoc septembre 2015.jpg
Général d'armée Pierre de Villiers, France
26th Chief of the Defence Staff
Birth name Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon
Born (1956-07-26) 26 July 1956 (age 62)
Allegiance  France
Years of service 1975 – 2017
Rank Army General
Commands held 501e-503e Régiment de chars de combat
2nd Armoured Brigade
Head of the Prime Minister's military cabinet
Chef d'état-major des Armées
Battles/wars Kosovo War
Afghanistan War
Mali War
Third Central African Civil War
Second Iraqi Civil War
Syrian Civil War

Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon (born 26 July 1956) dit Pierre de Villiers is an Army General of the French Army and the former Chief of the Defence Staff.[1] He tendered his resignation on 19 July 2017.[2]


House Le Jolie de Villiers[edit]

Coat of arms of House Le Jolie de Villiers

Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon is a member of the House of Le Jolis de Villiers (French: Famille Le Jolis de Villiers) established in the 16th century. His brother is the French politician Philippe de Villiers.[3]

Military career[edit]

1973 to 2003[edit]

After two years of preparatory corniche (French: corniche) at Prytanée National Militaire (French: Prytanée national militaire), Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon was admitted to the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr in 1975, promotion « Captain Henri Guilleminot » (French: Henri Guilleminot). He entered at the end of his scholarity armored and cavalry arm (French: arme blindée et cavalerie) and joined the application school of the cavalry of Saumur (French: école de cavalerie de Saumur) within his specialty,[4] promotion « lieutenant Charles de Foucauld ». He was a section platoon chief (French: chef de peloton de chars) of AMX30 tanks at the 2nd Dragoon Regiment (French: 2e Régiment de Dragons) in 1978.[5]

He entered between 1979 and 1987 to the 4e Régiment de Dragons, which also housed a platoon of AMX30 tanks. He commanded a divisionary reconnaissance squadron of the 7th Armoured Division (French: 7e Division Blindée).[5]

He was then on three different occasions an instructor of sous-officiers and lieutenants at Saumur.[5]

From 1989 to 1990, he was a candidate at the Superior War School (French: École supérieure de Guerre) of the 103rd promotion of the ESG, then from 1990-1991, he was a candidate at the Superior Inter-arm Course (French: Cours supérieur Interarmées) (XLII session of the CSI).

He was then designated as the regimental commander of the 501e-503e Régiment de Chars de Combat. In June 1999, he commanded during five months the mechanized infantry battalion of the Leclerc brigade, which entered first in Kosovo with operation KFOR. During twelve years, he was in post at Paris at the general staff headquarters of the French Army (French: Etat-major de l'Armée de Terre), then at the inspection of the French Army and member of the financial affairs direction of the ministère de la Défense.[5]

2003 to 2008[edit]

From September to June 2004, he was an auditor (French: auditeur) at the center of high military studies (French: Centre des hautes études militaires) and at the institute of high national defense studies (French: Institut des hautes études de défense nationale). Adjoint (French: assistant) to the Chief of the Prime Minister's military cabinet (French: Adjoint au chef de cabinet militaire du Premier minister) on 1 July 2004, he was promoted to Général de brigade of 1 September 2005. He was designated commandant of the 2nd Armoured Brigade (French: 2e Brigade Blindée) and arms commandant of the court of Orleans (French: commandant d'armes de la place d'Orléans) on 1 August 2006, a function which he occupied until 31 August 2008. In Parallel, from December 2006 to April 2007, he commanded the Regional Capital Command RCC in Afghanistan which regrouped 2500 military personnel from 15 nationalities.[citation needed]

2008 to 2014[edit]

He was nominated as at the Head of the Prime Minister's military cabinet (French: Chef du cabinet militaire du Premier minister) on 15 September 2008, a function which occupied until March 2010, date in which he was replaced by Bernard de Courrèges d'Ustou (French: Bernard de Courrèges d'Ustou).

By decree on 11 March 2010, he was nominated to the functions of Major General of the Armies (French: Major général des armées) of the general staff headquarters of the armies.


General Villiers was nominated on 15 February 2014 as Chief of the general staff headquarters of the Armies (French: chef d'état-major des armées) succeeding Admiral Édouard Guillaud. Charged with attacks against the Islamic State after the November 2015 Paris attacks, he judged that the necessary military attacks against this entity can only but guarantee peace and security, by recalling the comfort means of the French Armed Forces.[6][7]

He coordinated the exterior operations of Operation Barkhane in Sahel, Operation Sangaris in Central African Republic and Opération Chammal in Syria and in Iraq. He was also equally in charge of the interior natured anti-terrorist operation, Opération Sentinelle.[citation needed]

French Army Chief général Pierre de Villiers in 2014.


The French Foreign Legion, on 30 April 2015, commemorated their 152nd anniversary of Camaron in presence of général Pierre de Villiers.[8] Commemorating also the 70th Liberation Anniversary, the Army Chief (French: C.E.M.A), général de Villiers declared that " Commemorating Camaron, is commemorating the courage, the cult of the mission, the respect of senior veterans (French: les anciens), giving the youth a formidable message of hope for the future", while also adding that "« honor and fidelity are always values which gather »".[8] During the ceremony, Adjudant-Chef François Monarcha, born in Poland 98 years and «4 months ago»- the senior veteran was insisting on this precision-, was part of the main parade as he was accompanied by a former Harki and a Sous-Officier of British origin.[8] Addressing the legionnaires, French Army Chef d'état-major des Armées général Pierre de Villiers declared "« Your regimental colors and flags do not have enough folds and space in them to house and contain all your titles of glory » ".[8]


In December 2016, De Villiers called for an increase in armed forces' budget from 1.7% to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) before 2022.[9][10] This would allow France to meet the NATO defense spending requirements currently met by only the United States, Greece, United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland.[11]


In March 2017, De Villiers once again expressed support for increasing the defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2022 - an increase of about three billion euros per year.[12] Emmanuel Macron announced a promise to increase the defence budget to 2% by 2025[13] and Marine Le Pen announced in Lyon that she wishes to see the defence budget increased to 3% of GDP in order to build a new aircraft carrier, hire 50,000 new military personnel and progressively reintroduce compulsory military service, starting with a 3-month commitment.[14]

Disagreement with Macron on military budget[edit]

On 11 July 2017, Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gérald Darmanin announced that part of the government's plan to reduce spending, the military were going to be cut by 850 million euros in 2017.[15] The following day, Le Monde reported that De Villiers met with the Defense Committee in the National Assembly and told them "I will not get fucked over like this".[16] The conversation was caught on tape and leaked by Le Monde. Also, accordingly to Le Figaro, De Villiers unleashed his fury, and added monumentally "I can no longer look my guys in the eyes if we reduce our means further".[17]

Macron, during a speech to the armed forces on 13 July 2017, affirmed his plan to raise the defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2025.[18] During the speech, Macron publicly called out De Villiers numerous times addressing the recent leak reported by Le Monde.

14 July Bastille Day military parade[edit]

During Bastille Day military parade, General De Villiers and President Macron, as customary for the Chief and Commander-in-Chief of the French Armed Forces, ride together side by side standing, in the same vehicle during the ceremonial parade.


Following the Bastile Day parade, De Villiers posted on Facebook a criticism of the Macron government's plans to reduce defence spending.[19] Le Journal du Dimanche reported on 16 July 2017 that Macron was possibly looking to replace De Villiers stating "The Republic doesn't work like this"[20] Macron then went on to say that he has confidence in De Villiers.[15] General Villiers stepped down on 19 July 2017 due to budget cuts and disagreements with President Emmanuel Macron.[2] This was the first time in the 5th Republic that a Chief of Defence Staff has forcibly resigned.[21] A press release was issued on francetvinfo's website.[22] On the same day, Macron confirmed Général d'armée François Lecointre as De Villiers replacement.[23] Macron described Villiers' behaviour surrounding his resignation as “undignified”.[24]

While De Villiers was leaving the Ministry of Armed Forces, a crowd of soldiers and military personnel applauded him.[25]

Decorations and Honours[edit]

Pierre de Villiers, at the side of United States Army general Martin E. Dempsey, on 23 April 2014.
Brevet Parachutiste.jpg
Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg Ordre national du Merite Officier ribbon.svg
Gold star
Croix du Combattant (1930 France) ribbon.svg UK MID 1920-94.svg Medaille de la Jeunesse et des Sports Bronze ribbon.svg
Medaille commemorative Francaise ribbon.svg GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 4 GrVK.svg US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png
SEN Order of the Lion - Commander BAR.png OPMM-uX.svg NATO Medal Yugoslavia ribbon bar.svg
NATO Medal w Służbie Pokoju i Wolności BAR.svg NATO Medal ribbon (Non-Article 5).svg Ordre de la Valeur (Cameroun) Officier 2nd type ribbon.svg
NER Order of Merit Commander.png GAB Médaille de la Reconnaissance des Forces Armées.png

Pierre de Villiers is an Honorary Caporal (bestowed) of the Troupes de marine (2014).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "France's armed forces chief resigns over Macron budget cuts". Reuters. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-19. 
  2. ^ a b Dearden, Lizzie (July 19, 2017). "French armed forces chief quits after clash with Emmanuel Macron over budget cuts". The Independent. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  3. ^ Alain Barluet (19 July 2017). "Le général Pierre de Villiers, chef d'état-major des armées, a démissionné". Le Figaro. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "Le nouveau patron des armées est un ancien du Prytanée". Le Maine libre. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Biographie du CEMA". Ministère des Armées. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "L'armée n'envisage pas une victoire militaire contre l'EI " à court terme "". lemonde.fr. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2016. .
  7. ^ Pierre de Villiers (20 January 2016). "" Gagner la guerre ne suffit pas à gagner la paix "". lemonde.fr. 
  8. ^ a b c d "La Legion Etrangere honore ses heros a aubagne". Le Figaro (in French). 2015-04-30. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  9. ^ Inter, France (2016-12-21). "Le chef d'état-major des armées réclame plus de moyens : " Le prix de la paix, c'est l'effort de guerre. "". France Inter (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  10. ^ "Le prix de la paix, c'est l'effort de guerre". lesechos.fr (in French). 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  11. ^ Bremmer, Ian. "The Only 5 Countries That Meet NATO's Defense Spending Requirements". Time. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  12. ^ "Budget défense : ce que veut le général Pierre de Villiers". La Tribune (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  13. ^ "Le budget de la défense - propositions des candidats à l'élection présidentielle 2017". Le Monde.fr (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  14. ^ "Marine Le Pen's plan to make France great again". POLITICO. 2017-02-04. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  15. ^ a b "La polémique entre Emmanuel Macron et le général Pierre de Villiers en cinq actes". Franceinfo (in French). 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  16. ^ "French army chief resigns over Macron spat". POLITICO. 2017-07-19. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  17. ^ "Budget défense : le général De Villiers laisse éclater sa colère / Defense Budget : général de Villiers unleashed his fury". Le Figaro (in French). 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  18. ^ "Forces armées: Emmanuel Macron reprend la main sur le débat budgétaire". LExpress.fr (in French). 2017-07-13. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  19. ^ "Gros coup de pression d'Emmanuel Macron sur le chef d'état-major des armées, le général de Villiers". Marianne (in French). 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  20. ^ JDD, Le. "Macron sur le budget des armées : "Je dis ce que je fais et je fais ce que je dis"". www.lejdd.fr (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  21. ^ Guibert, Nathalie (2017-07-19). "Démission du chef d'état-major Pierre de Villiers, un fait sans précédent depuis 1958". Le Monde.fr (in French). ISSN 1950-6244. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  22. ^ "Le général Pierre de Villiers, chef d'état-major des armées, annonce sa démission". Franceinfo (in French). 2017-07-19. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  23. ^ "Le général François Lecointre succède à Pierre de Villiers" (in French). Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  24. ^ "France's top general quits, in a test for Emmanuel Macron". The Economist. 20 July 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  25. ^ BFMTV, Après sa démission, l’impressionnante salve d’applaudissements pour le général de Villiers (in French), BFMTV, retrieved 2017-07-22 
  26. ^ "Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr empfängt französischen Generalstabschef, General Pierre de Villiers, mit militärischen Ehren und zur Aushändigung des Bundesverdienstkreuzes" (PDF). Bundesministerium der Verteidigung. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  27. ^ "Visite au Cameroun du général d'armée Pierre de Villiers, chef d'état-major des armées françaises". La France au Cameroun (in French). 28 January 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2017. 


Military offices
Preceded by
Édouard Guillaud
Chief of the Defence Staff
14 February 2014 – 19 July 2017
Succeeded by
François Lecointre