PARIS — France’s military chief resigned on Wednesday after he was rebuked by French President Emmanuel Macron for protesting defense spending cuts.
General Pierre de Villiers said in a statement he no longer felt able to command the sort of armed forces “that I think is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people.”
The row between the president and De Villiers, 60, blew up last week when the chief of the defense staff told a parliamentary committee he would not allow the armed forces to be “screwed” by plans to cut 850 million euros ($980 million) from the budget.
Macron replied later that “I am the boss,” adding in a newspaper interview at the weekend that if there was a difference of opinion, “it is the chief of the defense staff who will change his position.”
De Villiers said Wednesday that throughout his career, he had believed it was his duty to tell politicians “of my reservations.”
The row has provoked a debate about whether 39-year-old Macron had humiliated his military chief or whether he had no choice but to exert his authority just two months into his presidency.
Macron, a centrist, won the presidency in May by defeating far-right rival Marine Le Pen.