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Military Action and Sovereignty


Mise à jour : 17/07/2017  - Auteur :  CDEC/CEN (r) CROCE Hervé  - Direction :  CDEC/DAD/Pub-Comm

Edited by the Center for Doctrine and Command Training, this edition contains the presentations made at the first French Army conference on military thinking. Addressing the theme of military action and sovereignty, the conference took place on 19 January 2017 at the École Militaire in Paris. Nearly 300 participants showed up (representatives from political authorities, the military, industry, universities and the media), who all had a vested interest in the employment of our Land Forces and defense issues.

Read the full text

Les actes du colloque (format pdf, 2 MB).

See poster

Action militaire et souveraineté (format pdf, 4 MB).

Download the program

Programme colloque 2017 (format pdf, 3 MB).

Defining the current context are the terrorist threat on our soil, the return of the threat of force at our borders and increased defense budgets in the United States as well as in certain European countries. This begs the question of how effective is military action and, in particular, how does it tie in to sovereignty?

National sovereignty is the essential characteristic of any Nation. It determines the capability to be master of one’s own house, to resist attacks from the outside and attempts at destabilization from the inside and to choose with whom to cooperate.

Protecting this sovereignty across the land, the airspace and the sea areas belonging to them is the Armed Forces’ most important responsibility. Maintaining national sovereignty is what forms the basis of their mission. This link between military action and sovereignty was central to the analysis at the French Army’s first conference on military thinking on 19 January 2017.

Preserving sovereignty is based on national independence and on strategic autonomy. The latter relies on nuclear deterrence, conventional armed forces and a national defense industry. This strategic autonomy enables the State to make quick and sovereign decisions.

Nonetheless, this sovereignty can sometimes be undermined. Threats have amplified and transformed. They have broken with the norm by striking France on its national territory. The French Army is a key player in this sovereignty, inside and outside of our borders. It is not alone. Indeed, the Armed Forces should combine with other State resources to take a comprehensive approach: diplomacy abroad and security forces at home. As custodians of legitimate force, soldiers protect the integrity of the national territory and French interests. These same soldiers are versatile; they are just as effective committed in overseas operations as at home. The Armed Forces thereby play their part in sovereignty based on their capabilities and the role afforded to them by the political authorities.

This sovereignty is priceless, but it does come at a cost: the training and equipment that guarantee our forces technical superiority. Sovereignty therefore also relies on a robust national defense industry. Above all, the guarantee and expression of sovereignty means a complete army model has to be maintained, based on deterrence and conventional forces, with their own intelligence capabilities to ensure strategic autonomy. In the absence of a considerable reinforcement of that expression and guarantee of sovereignty, in other words, the defense effort, the French model of strategic autonomy could flounder in the years to come. As such, a strong political which sets out a long term strategy and which provides the Armed Forces with the necessary resources is a prerequisite for the operational performance of France’s military action.

France is fortunate enough to have the sovereign freedom at its disposal to choose the means to ensure its own defense. “The price of peace remains the war effort”.

Sources : CDEC/CEN (r) CROCE Hervé
Droits : CDEC/CEN (r) CROCE Hervé

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