French troops owed millions thanks to software glitches
The French government has unblocked 30 million euros to pay a backlog of wages owing to troops, some of them serving in Afghanistan. The arrears built up thanks to faults in new software introduced in 2011.
A furious Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian detailed 75 different kinds of errors made by the Louvois software brought in by the military in September 2011. He slammed the previous right-wing government for rushing to introduce it “without taking the time to try it out”.
Describing the glitches as “unacceptable”, he claimed that officials had told that all the problems had been sorted out in July but that when he visited troops in September he discovered “the extent of the damage”.
Problems included repayments for advances deducted three times and stoppages made three times on the same wage slip.
The soldiers, many of them serving overseas including in Afghanistan, seem to have suffered in silence due to military discipline but their families complained, some of them saying that they had to take out loans to pay the bills.
An emergency number was set up earlier this year and received 6,300 calls, giving rise to 3,200 cases being taken up.
Le Drian has set aside 30 million euros and ordered 100 extra pay staff to be taken on to sort out the shambles “like a military operation”.
“By Christmas I don’t want to hear any more about this,” he told a press conference Monday.
The software was supposed to be introduced for the pay of the air force and gendarmerie, who are part of the military, in March and September 2013 respectively. The minister has ordered that the transition be postponed for at least two months.