French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans to create a slimmer, sleeker army better adapted to counterterrorism and intelligence work.
The move is a major sea change in the size and outlook of the French military in order to reflect the threat of modern terrorism.
In a speech to 3,000 senior officers in Paris, Mr Sarkozy also confirmed his intention to return France to Nato command, which it left in 1966 in a symbolic gesture to Washington.
Mr Sarkozy told delegates there was no threat to France's independence or the country "being unwillingly dragged into a war" by rejoining Nato command.
"Today, the most immediate threat is that of a terrorist attack," he continued.
"Thanks to the effectiveness of our security forces, France has not been attacked in recent years.
"But the threat is there, it is real and we know that it could tomorrow take on a new form, even more serious, by nuclear, chemical and biological means."
Among the measures being unveiled today was a blueprint doubling France's budget for military satellites, drones and surveillance equipment, while at the same time a sixth of France's 320,000 military posts are to be shed and troop numbers are to be reduced by 50,000 to 224,000.