said that some signatories would go before a senior military council and would face punishments ranging from forced full retirement to other disciplinary action.

He softened that stance in a letter to military personnel on Tuesday, a copy of which The New York Times obtained. It contained no threat of punishment but pointed out that the letters “have contributed to dragging the army into political debates where it has neither the legitimacy nor the vocation to intervene.”

Citing a violation of military obligations, Gen. Lecointre encouraged the signatories to “leave the institution in order to freely express their ideas and convictions.”

Members of the far right were quick to voice their support for the new letter on Monday, just as Ms. Le Pen had endorsed the first letter in April, when she called on the retired generals “to join our movement and take part in the battle that is beginning.”

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