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Capabilities and Spending Concepts and Doctrine Land Long Read

French Army Approaches to High Intensity Warfare in the 21st Century

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Since well before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the British defense community has been struggling to reach a consensus about the direction the United Kingdom’s army needs to take. All agree that the British Army is in a mess. It is too small and the Army suffers from botched modernization programs and ever-shifting requirements. While the Royal Navy and Air Force perhaps have done better with respect to modernization, their choices have been contentious because of their extraordinary cost and uncertainty over whether they were betting on the right equipment. Indeed, across the board it can be said that the United Kingdom’s armed forces, right or wrong, have chosen pricey high technology over other considerations, namely mass. Likewise, the Ministry of Defense for at least a decade has been at a loss to settle on a clear vision of what Her Majesty’s military is for, and therefore what capabilities it must have. Where are its priorities? Ukraine has muddied waters further by bringing to light new developments in the art of war, especially as it relates to technology, and the tradeoffs implied by betting on quality over quantity. Ukraine also has brought additional focus on high-intensity warfare, which requires a rather different kind of army from one intended to be multi-purpose or tailored for security assistance or low-intensity operations.

It does not help that the British defense community, as reflected by numerous military and Ministry of Defense publications, is strongly influenced by the United States military. This is a mistake, if for no other reason than the fact that the United States military is not good at making hard decisions because it does not have to. Basically, when confronted with a choice between options A, B, or C, the Pentagon will answer “yes.” It can comfortably chase after unicorn capabilities and indulge in specialization, with some formations geared for high-intensity warfare and others not. I have argued on this website that the British should look to Italy for thinking about how better to match its military capabilities with its global ambitions. For lessons about how to build a force for high intensity warfare and seek to balance technology against mass, the obvious place for the UK defense community to look is France, a nation with roughly the same resources as the UK as well as the same ambitions. So, how do the French and the French Army in particular understand high intensity warfare? What is the French Army doing to adapt for it?

The French Army has historically opted for a form of warfare intended to make the most of its attributes.  These include doctrine and a command style that encourage fast movement, risk taking (“audacity”), “command by objective,” and subsidiarity (meaning the practice of authorizing subordinate unit commanders to act autonomously).  The French pointedly do not rely on mass or fire power.  In the contemporary context, the small size of the French military leaves it little choice.  However, the rising cost of technology and the return of high-intensity warfare heralded by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has underscored the renewed need for mass.  In the words of one French general in a 2021, “the challenge for the army is to combine a high technological level with the mass necessary to endure and to count within a large coalition faced with a first-rank adversary”.1

Foundations: Foch and the Free French

The debacle of June 1940 discredited France’s metropolitan army and its doctrines, which emphasized a methodical and fire-power-based approach often associated with Marshal Philippe Pétain.  The officers who coalesced afterward to form the Free French Army in North Africa, campaigned in Italy, France, and Germany, and then built the Cold War were convinced of the need to shake off Pétain’s legacy. They wanted to reconnect with the school of that other hero of the Great War, Marshal Ferdinand Foch.2  Also back in favor was the Napoleonic cult of “audacity”.  Of course, one can argue that the French generals of 1943-1945 had no alternative to maneuver and audacity because of their lack of size and the availability of American support. They were making a virtue of necessity. In any case, during the campaigns of 1944-1945, at least as General André Beaufre described them, the French fought an aggressive war of rapid maneuver limited only by their dependence on American support.  Soon after the Free French 1st Division landed in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon, for example, General de Lattre had to choose between waiting for reinforcements before attempting to take Toulon, or striking immediately.  “He hesitated little and chose audacity,” according to Beaufre.3  As it turned out, “fortune smiled on the audacious,” and de Lattre, emboldened by his success, decided to push his luck and moved quickly against Marseille before the Toulon operation was over.  Both proved to be furious fights.  Beaufre, looking back, was able to trumpet the French Army’s return to form signaled by the manner in which de Lattre had conducted the campaign:

This brilliant victory in Provence, like our victory in Garigliano, carried the mark of an incontestably French style. It confirmed the full rebirth of our Army, after the mortal torpor of 1940. Compared to the stilted plans of our allies, powerful but without tactical spirit, our maneuvers showed what one could attain from reasoned audacity and vigor in execution.

Beaufre earlier, when describing a clash between his patron General Henri Giraud and General Dwight Eisenhower, made a similar comparison between what he saw as the French school of military operations and the American.  Giraud was eager to initiate an offensive in Tunisia, for which he needed American backing; Eisenhower was reluctant.  Giraud “thought operationally, with remarkable instincts and audacity, while Eisenhower reasoned like a logistician”.4

Ferdinand Foch, 1914

It follows that France’s post-1945 Cold War doctrine for conventional warfare called for waging a fast, Blitzkrieg-style, war in Germany.  The French Army hoped its maneuvrist approach and speed would compensate for the Warsaw Pact’s numerical advantage.  Thus, for example, France’s main battle tank at the close of the Cold War, the AMX-30, sacrificed protection for the sake of speed.  It had the least protection of any Western main battle tank of its time.  The French also counted on tactical nuclear weapons both to help even the odds and warn Moscow of its willingness to reach for strategic nuclear weapons if the situation required.  France’s colonial wars, and even its post-colonial campaigns in places like Kolwezi in Zaire (1978) and more recently in Mali (2013), also showcased a pronounced tasted for audacity and speed. 5  They also demonstrated other attributes valued by the French Army, namely subsidiarity; an embrace of “command by objective,” which Americans today call Mission Command; comfort with improvisation;6 and a willingness to build forces along the principle of juste suffisance, meaning they were only just large enough and had only enough combat support and combat service support capabilities to get the job done. 7

French defense policy also called for a military that was tough enough to oblige the Warsaw Pact to commit a huge force if it was serious about invading and not just interested in slicing off some salami. 

It must be acknowledged that the French never really took seriously the idea of defeating the Soviets.  The point of its army, per French doctrine, was to deter “salami slice” or “artichoke” tactics like what Hitler did in the Rhineland or against Czechoslovakia, meaning he took small slivers of territory with the intent of not provoking a major response on the part of the Western powers. It is also to provide policy makers with some liberty of maneuver by giving options other than reaching for nuclear weapons. 8  French defense policy also called for a military that was tough enough to oblige the Warsaw Pact to commit a huge force if it was serious about invading and not just interested in slicing off some salami.  France would see the size of the force mustered against it and read Moscow’s intentions, thereby determining whether nuclear weapons were warranted.  It follows that the French never bothered to make provisions for a long fight, under the assumption that World War Three would either escalate quickly to nuclear warfare or both sides would come to their senses.

Post-Cold War Evolution: Doubling Down

The French emphasis on speed and maneuver became more relevant after France ended conscription in the 1990s and reduced the size of its army by roughly half.  Likewise, the much-altered international context encouraged the French to focus less on fighting “major engagements” against peer threats and instead work to make the overall force more expeditionary and sustainable despite its size, and more flexible for the conflicts they might find itself in. Thus, even though the French never abandoned high-end capabilities, heavier units received proportionately larger cuts.9  The French aspired to tailor their force for what they refer to as the “middle segment”.  This means light enough to be deployed and sustained in austere environments like Africa yet heavy enough to be survivable against a peer threat.  That search for a happy medium is most visible in France’s choice of wheels rather than tracks for all its newer armored vehicles and its new self-propelled howitzer.

French Army Jaguar vehicle. By Domenjod – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116205493

The French abandoned the division structure in favor of modularity.  More specifically, an approach that relied on battalion and company-sized combined arms battle groups tailored for specific missions.  These are known as tactical combined arms groups (GTIA) and the smaller tactical combined arms sub-groups (SGTIA).  Their modularity helps efficiently aggregate and disaggregate forces, cobbling together forces from bits and pieces of multiple companies, regiments, and brigades.  The scale depended on France’s assessment of what a force minimally required to get the job done.  The French Army, as a rule, is very good at tailoring forces for specific missions and measuring out forces in small increments.  Another important feature was the principle of subsidiarity, with battalion and company-level commanders exercising considerable autonomy as they went about figuring out for themselves how best to execute their superiors’ intent.  The French Army schooled officers to understand the need to decide fast, act fast, and be audacious.  They wanted their officers to be able to recognize—more through intuition than anything else—an opportunity to achieve what the French term a “major effect”.

By major effect, the French refer to an action that directly or indirectly will have a decisive effect on the enemy.  French doctrine makes clear that this is not to be achieved by destroying the enemy or targeting its strong points (an approach that General Michel Yakovleff, author of the massive textbook Tactique Théorique, associates with the U.S. Army).10  Rather, it is to be accomplished by striking at a key weakness, perhaps a logistical line to the rear, for example, and thereby set of a string of consequences that give one a significant advantage.  The concept of the major effect aligns with the French emphasis on maneuver rather than shock, of indirect strategies rather than direct ones.  The point is above all “to interrupt the sequence” of the enemy’s plan by preventing whatever those units were supposed to accomplish for that plan to succeed.11  Yakovleff describes the major effect in terms of a “critical act” by which the commander seizes a part of the initiative or breaks that of the adversary, with the result that, though the fight might still continue for some time, the outcome already is largely determined.12

Achieving the major effect does not require mass, a fact which gives comfort to the French Army given their sensitivity to their lack of mass.  It requires intuition, a culture of Mission Command, and, most importantly a force in which lower echelons units have the autonomy and the adroitness to strike at that point at the right time.  In the words of the French Army’s 2008 publication FT-02, Tactique Générale (General Tactics), “It is audacity encouraged by subsidiarity that makes it possible to seize opportunities”.13  Indeed, one finds throughout French doctrinal publications the idea that it is better to decide quickly and risk making the wrong decision.  French officers have not forgotten Foch’s assertion that “of all mistakes, one alone is infamous, inaction”.14  Yakovleff makes the same argument. “When in doubt, I attack”.15

By 7th Army Training Command from Grafenwoehr, Germany – SETC: France’s Defensive Operations Lane, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69781388

The ideas mentioned above can be found in nearly all the French Army doctrinal literature published during the first decade of the 2000s by Economica, an independent firm close to the army, and the French army’s own Centre de doctrine d’emploi des forces (Center for Force Employment Doctrine, CDEF), which in 2016 became the Centre de doctrine et d’enseignement au commandement (Center for Doctrine and Teaching Command, CDEC).  They all bear a strong imprint of Foch’s Principles of War, as does nearly all contemporary thinking, although often the Foch comes indirectly via the writings of General André Beaufre, who can be credited with making Foch relevant for the nuclear era.16

That said, one also finds a clear pre-occupation with asymmetric conflicts, counter-insurgency, and stabilization operations.  This was the era of FT-01, Gagner la bataille, conduire à la paix (2007), which speaks of a global approach and de-emphasizing combat.  This was also the era when CDEF alone and with Economica republished 1950s-era French counter-insurgency doctrine, and translated and published the work of David Galula, which previously was unknown in France.  In the words of one recently retired senior officer, even though the French Army still had the wherewithal to fight tank battles, “an army is what it does”.  In the 1990s through to the second decade of the 21st century the French Army primarily conducted small scale peace keeping and stability operations.

Moving toward the Future

Despite the French Army’s expeditionary focus, starting in the late 1990s, it began investing in networked warfare technology.  The impetus was not any conviction regarding a pending Revolution in Military Affairs but rather the more prosaic imperative of wanting to keep up with the Americans and be taken sufficiently seriously in coalition operations and given a seat at the table.  This technology found its way to the Leclerc and the CAESAR howitzer, and then the VBCI infantry fighting vehicle; it became central to the SCORPION program, which involves new radios, new information networks, and new armored vehicles including the Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval.  The technology involved includes an equivalent to the American Blue Force Tracker, and it enables the vehicles and weapons systems on the network to conduct semi-autonomous collaborative warfare, with policy alone preventing full automation: The French insist on keeping a man-in-the-loop for various reasons.17  Although the technology obviously has application for high-intensity warfare, and in many regards is overkill for Africa, high-intensity warfare was never an explicit purpose.  This was rather a case of procuring the technology before figuring out what it was good for.  By and large, however, the working assumption was that it would enable the French to fight the way they had always intended to fight (i.e. fast maneuver, subsidiarity), only better, primarily by speeding up the so-called OODA loop and thinning the fog of war.

French Army Caasar
By © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28979965

The French nonetheless stood up a SCORPION Laboratory tasked with experimenting with new tactics and new unit structures, with the intention of guiding SCORPIONized units that had been issued the new equipment. The French currently speak of a SCORPION doctrine, although it is not clear precisely what that entails, though it is a safe bet that one can find traces of the influence of Colonel Guy Brossollet and General Guy Hubin

Theory: Brossollet and Hubin

Two theoretical works merit mention because of the influence they have on how the French Army thinks about technology and future warfare.  The first work is Colonel Guy Brossollet’s 1975 Essai sur la non-bataille (Essay on the Non-Battle).  The second is General Guy Hubin’s 2000 work Perspectives tactiques (Tactical Perspectives), which for a while at least was required reading in some French Army schools.

Brossollet challenged the idea of attempting a Blitzkrieg campaign to fend off the Soviets using large tank-centered formations.18  He saw this as costly, futile, and in any event unnecessary.  Observing the advent of new precision-guided anti-tank missiles (ATGMs) that Arab armies had used to great effect against Israeli armor in 1973, Brossollet imagined replacing France’s large and expensive battle groups with a defensive mesh of small, mobile units armed to the teeth with ATGMs and recoilless rifles.  Each would operate largely autonomously (subsidiarity) within pre-defined overlapping zones.  They would avoid decisive battles, step aside as Warsaw Pact armored columns thrust forward, and seize opportunities to strike at weak points on the flanks and rear (i.e. going for the “major effect”).  Small groups of tanks would move around in certain channels, coming into play whenever a hammer strike was required rather than the deft stiletto work of the ATGM crews, who otherwise possessed no weapons beyond their service rifles, squad machine guns, and 81-mm mortars. Brossollet also imagined small groups of ATGM-armed helicopters providing fire support.

Colonel Guy Brossollet, 1975. Par Louis-Joseph Brossollet — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87336610

General Guy Hubin, who cited Brossollet along with Beaufre as major influences, updated Beaufre, in part using Brossollet, for warfare in the age of precision stand-off capabilities, information networks, and modern tanks’ ability to fire on the move. 19  One key insight was that there would be an inversion of the Fochian ideas of concentration of efforts and economy of force: concentration of efforts was increasingly dangerous, as any concentration only provided the enemy with targets, and increasingly safety would have to be found in dispersal and movement.  Never stop moving.

The trick now was to get the enemy to concentrate, which was the opposite of past practice. 

The trick now was to get the enemy to concentrate, which was the opposite of past practice.  Economy of force was everything as units moved around attempting to hurt the enemy while sparing one’s own forces. It helped that technology would diminish the fog of war, making it safer and easier to disperse because of the improved ability to keep track of who was where, and the reduced risk of friendly fire.  Hubin also argued that units had to be broken down into small and largely autonomous components (subsidiarity).  Rather than move in a particular line units would move about in different directions, seeking opportunities to seize the initiative.  Surprise had to be achieved not by hiding (the enemy increasingly can see you) but by generating uncertainty.  The small size of European armies meant continuous fronts were impossible and units would inevitably get mixed up.  This, plus the ability to fire on the move, reinforced the idea that units would move about in multiple directions, and the very idea of a front and a rear would lose relevance.

Hubin imagined eschewing hierarchical command structures in favor of a system according to which units occupying a particular space would link up with another and interact.  They would share data and coordinate.  Units entering that space would join the local network; upon leaving, they would pass on to another network.  Logistics would be a major problem owing to the absence of linearity, the dispersion of units, and the need to avoid and sort of concentration.  He imagined being able to “pulse” logistics in precise quantities.  He also hoped that precision weapons would lighten logistical burdens significantly by enabling weapons systems to achieve desired effects by firing far fewer rounds than what had been the case in the past.

Hubin’s influence is intangible but meaningful, given the extent that he is a common reference for senior French officers.  One can see an echo of his arguments in the recent publications by the CDEC and Yakovleff’s textbook where they speak of the fact that modern warfare is unlikely to be linear, with clear fronts and rears, and that because of the small size of modern armies, fronts will not be continuous. There will be large gaps between units (“lacunarity”), and those smaller units that will dominate the modern battlefield are likely to be mixed up with the adversaries (“imbrication”). This seconds Hubin’s ideas (and Brossellet’s) about units moving in different directions rather that following a single line of advance. We also find an important echo of Hubin in the CDEC’s most recent doctrinal publication, the Précis de tactique générale (Precis of General Tactics) (2022).  The Précis, which to a considerable extent is a paraphrase of Foch, has an innovation of note in its take on Foch’s principles of liberty of action and concentration of efforts.  “The concentration of efforts,” the Précis explains, is not the accumulation of means but a convergence of effects on a point of application that one must be able to vary as a function of the circumstances”.20  The accumulation of means of course implies concentration of forces, which has become something to avoid at all cost. Indeed, the doctrine envisions dispersed forces that are capable of remaining dispersed while being able to change the point at which their effects converge at will.  The Précis acknowledges that remaining dispersed to some extent will reduce the maximum effectiveness at a given place and time, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.21  A key advantage is enhanced liberty of action.  And, of course, the purpose of action is to protect one’s own liberty of action while finding ways to reduce that of the adversary, largely by seizing and initiative and interrupting the adversary’s plans (major effect).

The Return of High Intensity Warfare

The Ukraine crisis in 2014 inaugurated a shift in French thinking that has become more pronounced and more consequential in the subsequent eight years.  In 2020, for example, the then Army Chief of Staff General Thierry Burkhard published a document entitled Vision Stratégique (Strategic Vision).  This established increasing the French Army’s high intensity capabilities as its top priority, and Burkhard laid out a number of concrete proposals for adapting the force to harden it for fighting peer adversaries.  Upon becoming Chief of France’s Joint Staff in 2021, Burkhard extended that vision to the joint level.  The Russian offensive against Ukraine in February 2022 has validated this direction.  The consensus now is that the French Army needs to prepare for a large-scale, high intensity war, and they worry about their ability to do so given their much-reduced mass and the high cost of the technology that may help compensate for that lack of mass.

French Army recruiting poster

Among the more concrete steps the French have taken to adapt for high-intensity warfare are the decision in 2015 to reverse two decades of budget cuts and began spending more on defense; the revival of the division structure to facilitate larger-scale operations and the move to grow the army for the first time since the Algeria War.  The French recruited an additional 11,000, raising the number of deployable forces to 77,000, and they started growing the Army’s reserves.  A direct cause of this decision was the realization that France’s major operations at the time, Barkhane (in the Sahel), Sangaris (in Central African Republic), and Sentinelle (a major homeland security operation begun in response to the terrorist attacks of 2015, which at one time employed as many as 10,000 soldiers), were tying up so large a portion of France’s deployable force that French soldiers were spending too little time preparing for anything else.  In particular, they were neglecting the kind of training most useful for preparing for high-intensity warfare.22 It follows that the French since then have stepped up training in general and, in particular, training geared to strengthen capabilities relevant to high-intensity warfare.  This includes larger scale training and training involving allied forces, since the French assume they would get into a high-intensity war alongside allies and thus regard interoperability as a critical capability.  (The French place a particularly high priority on interoperability with British and American forces, considering them the most likely and important coalition partners in an emergency.)  The French also began a process of intellectual reflection on the evolving nature of warfare and what it meant.  One example is a conference hosted by CDEC in 2019 on whether Foch’s Principles of War remained relevant (unsurprisingly, the answer was yes).

Also of note is France’s Titan program, announced in 2020, which in some ways is France’s answer to the American concept of multi-domain operations.23  The gist of it is to build out the networking and collaborative warfare capabilities associated with SCORPION to extend them to the entire joint force and allies.  This time, whereas the French Army proceeded with SCORPION without having a vision of its purpose, Titan has a clear purpose was to leverage joint capabilities to improve the ability to fight a large-scale conflict against a peer adversary.24  France also came around to embracing drones.  According to one interview with a French general, the French Army by 2023 will have 3,000 drones in its arsenal and was launching a dedicated drone school.25 They also are working to improve their ability to control the low-altitude airspace, in other words to be able to tell friend from foe.  The French have also launched Project Vulcain (Vulcan), with the intention of robotizing the army by 2040, as well as investing heavily in cyber. 26  Finally, the French are re-tooling the way they manage their vehicle fleets, moving from a lean rotational system that centralized vehicle management and really only provided units with vehicles on an as-needed basis, to a system designed to place more vehicles in units’ hands to make it easier for them to train with them.

What the French see in the fighting in Ukraine since February of this year are signs that the defense has once again become stronger than the offensive, in a manner not unlike the First World War.

What the French see in the fighting in Ukraine since February of this year are signs that the defense has once again become stronger than the offensive, in a manner not unlike the First World War.  ATGMs make a big difference, as do drones, which make artillery significantly more effective, and the fact that a population equipped with phones can transmit images of the enemy’s movements and drone, which help evaporate the fog of war.  The French see that they need to beef up their air defenses of all kinds, remaster the art of camouflage, and ensure that mobile command posts stay on the move.  They also must suppress their penchant for improvisation, which they can get away with in Africa, in favor of careful planning, and invest more in tail as well as tooth.

The newly powerful defensive capabilities of modern armies raise fundamental questions about how one should conduct maneuver.  This perhaps is the greatest challenge for the French, given their emphasis on maneuver.  Might they come to grief if they were to fight a force that fought like the Ukrainians?  Reportedly they have not yet figured out how they might maneuver differently.  And then there is the question of mass: The French are aware they lack the stocks required to sustain attrition.  They will go to war with what they have but have nothing left.  Thus, the French press now is replete with examples of handwringing about France’s small military inventories and the fact that their defense industry would struggle to increase production.  A recent article in Le Monde, for example, focused on the fact that France only has 76 advanced CAESAR howitzers in its inventory, even though Ukraine has proven the vital role of precisely the kind of accurate, long-range weapon system of which the CAESAR is a paragon. The factory that produces them requires 18-20 months to make just one.27  It will take as many as ten years, according to the article, for NEXTER to produce the additional 33 canons currently on order for the French army.  The only real solutions to that problem involve a lot of money, and a political will that might not be there.

The French Army does not necessarily have answers for the British Army. It, too, sees the need for mass but does not have the means to acquire it. It, too, has heavily invested in technology to compensate for mass. It has, however, in contrast with the British developed a relatively clear vision of how it wants to fight in future wars to make the best use of the mass it has. That clarity of vision has helped the French develop modernization programs that are the envy of the British. This is not to say that SCORPION or VBCI are what the British need, but at least the French, with remarkably little fuss and generally on budget and on time, have been able to provide their force with modern vehicles well suited for their doctrine. At the very least, the British can see that their most capable and reliable European ally has decided to make fighting European wars once again its priority. Perhaps they should follow suit.

Cover photo: French Army on exercise in Estonia 2021. Credit: French MOD/Twitter.

Michael Shurkin

Michael Shurkin is a former senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.  He is currently an independent security analyst.

Footnotes

  1. “‘Produire des effets et apporter des solutions stratégiques’: Interview with General Pierre Schill,” Défense & Sécurité Internationale Hors Série N. 80 (2021): 14.
  2. For more on Foch, see Michael Shurkin, “Modern War for Romantics: Ferdinand Foch and the Principles of War,” War on the Rocks, July 18, 2020, https://warontherocks.com/2020/07/modern-war-for-romantics-ferdinand-foch-and-the-principles-of-war/.
  3. General André Beaufre, La Revanche de 1945 (Paris: Plon, 1966), 271.
  4. Beaufre, 172.
  5. Michael Shurkin, France’s War in Mali: Lessons for an Expeditionary Army (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2014).
  6. “Command by objective,” per recent French doctrine, “relies on an ‘idea of maneuver’ clearly expressed by the chief, and rests on the initiative accorded to subordinates, their intellectual discipline, and their reactivity in order to attain the goal fixed by the superior echelon.” See Armée de Terre, Commander en opérations (Paris: Economica, 2013), 24. The concept of “intellectual discipline” is largely borrowed from Foch.
  7. For more on French expeditionary warfare, see Michael Shurkin, “What a 1963 Novel Tells Us About the French Army, Mission Command, and the Romance of the Indochina War,” War on the Rocks, September 20, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/09/what-a-1963-novel-tells-us-about-the-french-army-mission-command-and-the-romance-of-the-indochina-war/.
  8. Concern with being able to deter and respond to “artichoke” or “salami slice” tactics was a major concern of General André Beaufre, for whom it was an important reason to retain conventional forces even in the nuclear age, provided they could respond quickly and project force. See General André Beaufre, Introduction à la stratégie (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1963).
  9. Stephanie Pezard and Michael Shurkin, A Strong Ally Stretched Thin: An Overview of France’s Defense Capabilities from a Burdensharing Perspective (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021), 30–32.
  10. General Michel Yakovleff, Tactique Théorique, 3rd ed. (Paris: Economica, 2016), 177.
  11. Yakovleff, 174
  12. Yakovleff, 174
  13. Centre de Doctrine d’Emploi des Forces, FT-02 Tactique Générale (Paris: Armée de terre, 2008), 60.
  14. Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, Des Principes de La Guerre(Paris: Economica, 2007), 245.
  15. Yakovleff, Tactique Théorique, 520.
  16. For examples see Armée de Terre, Commander en opérations; Armee de Terre, Tactique Générale, 2nd ed. (Paris: Economica, 2014); Armée de Terre, Manœuvre interarmes (Paris: Economica, 2013); Armee de Terre, Action Terrestre Future (Paris: Ministère de la Défense, 2016).
  17. I asked a French general involved with SCORPION if the tech could be switched to fully automatic; he did not answer but instead said that it was only a matter of time before an adversary went to full-automatic, especially in urban warfare.
  18. For more on Brossollet, see Michael Shurkin, “Ukraine and the Non-Battle,” Pax Americana (blog), April 18, 2022.
  19. For more on Hubin, see Michael Shurkin, “Kill the Homothetic Army: Gen. Guy Hubin’s Vision of the Future Battlefield,” War on the Rocks (blog), February 4, 2021, https://warontherocks.com/2021/02/kill-the-homothetic-army-gen-guy-hubins-vision-of-the-future-battlefield/.
  20. Centre de doctrine et d’enseignement du commandement, Précis de tactique générale, RFT 3.2.1 (Paris: Ministère des Armées, 2022), 20.
  21. Centre de doctrine et d’enseignement du commandement, 21.
  22. Pezard and Shurkin, A Strong Ally Stretched Thin: An Overview of France’s Defense Capabilities from a Burdensharing Perspective, 33–34.
  23. Martin Doithier, “Titan : le projet capacitaire de l’armée de Terre structurant les quinze années à venir,” Areion24news, September 22, 2020, https://www.areion24.news/2020/09/22/titan-le-projet-capacitaire-de-larmee-de-terre-structurant-les-quinze-annees-a-venir/.
  24. “‘L’homme reste le cœur de l’armée de Terre.’ Interview with General Hervé Gomart,” Défense & Sécurité Internationale Hors Série N. 80 (2021): 20.
  25. “‘L’homme reste le cœur de l’armée de Terre.’ Interview with General Hervé Gomart,” 20.
  26. “‘Produire des effets et apporter des solutions stratégiques’: Interview with General Pierre Schill,” 13.
  27. Jean-Michel Bezat, “Le secteur français de la défense réclame davantage de visibilité,” Le Monde.fr, May 19, 2022, https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2022/05/19/le-secteur-francais-de-la-defense-reclame-davantage-de-visibilite_6126811_3234.html.

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