"Able Archer 83 was a ten-day "NATO "command post "exercise starting on November 2, 1983 that spanned "Western Europe, centred on "SHAPE's Headquarters situated at "Casteau, north of the "Belgian city of "Mons. Able Archer exercises simulated a period of "conflict escalation, culminating in a coordinated "nuclear release. The 1983 exercise incorporated a new, unique format of coded communication, "radio silences, participation by "heads of state, and a simulated "DEFCON 1 nuclear alert.
The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with "deteriorating relations between the "United States and the "Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of "Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some in the USSR to believe that Able Archer 83 was a "ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear "first strike. This relatively obscure incident is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to "nuclear war since the "Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 The threat of nuclear war abruptly ended with the conclusion of the Able Archer 83 exercise on November 11.
The "Military of France encompasses an "army, a "navy, an "air force and a "military police force. The "President of the Republic heads the armed forces, with the title of "chef des armées" - "chief of the military forces". The President is the supreme authority for military matters and is the sole official who can order a nuclear strike. The French military has, as some of its primary objectives, the defence of national territory, the protection of French interests abroad, and the maintenance of global stability.
With a reported personnel strength of 779,450 in 2006 (259,050 regular force, 419,000 "regular reserve, and 101,400 law enforcement "Gendarmerie), the French Armed Forces constitutes the largest military in "European Union and the "20th largest in the world by number of troops. The French Armed Forces however have the "2nd highest expenditure of any military in the world, as well as the "3rd largest "nuclear force in the world, only behind the "United States and "Russia.