Member of Parliament for Bouches-du-Rhône,
Chairman of the Committee on National Defence and Armed Forces
I am both happy and proud to sign this editorial to launch the 10th edition of the Defence Summer University. As the initiator of a totally unprecedented event, I can only rejoice in its growing success. In fact, no other event brings together the leading military and civilian decision-makers in the field of defence, alongside industrialists, in the presence of journalists and elected representatives from across the political spectrum. It is precisely this diversity that fosters the richness of our exchanges.
This 10th edition of the Defence Summer University opens in a crucial year given that France is faced with the crucial challenges of updating the White Paper on Defence and National Security and preparing the future military programming law. We need to show great courage in a particularly tense geostrategic and economic context. Over the last five years, France has made choices it can be proud of, which have placed our country at the heart of international relations. We will not be able to face the next five years without strong action and without giving ourselves the means to keep our commitments.
Over the last five years, France has reached a new technological threshold, equipping its forces with the most modern arms to cater for their operational requirements while supporting the excellence of our industries. To allow France to play its role, our armed forces are very much in demand. It would be meaningless to convey the idea that we could achieve savings by reducing the resources they need to fulfil their mission. Faced with this huge challenge, we do not have many options to choose from. Our armed forces and our industrialists need to show imagination and innovative spirit. With our European partners, we also need to identify pathways allowing us to optimise our resources together.
It seemed consistent to organise this 10th Defence Summer University in Brest, as we recently paid tribute to the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the air force and the army, and it is therefore natural to give pride of place to the navy this year. The choice of Brest as the host city was equally legitimate, after Arcachon, Les Embiez, Colmar, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Saint-Malo, Saumur and Rennes.
This Summer University in Brest marks an important anniversary. It emphasizes the continuity of a unprecedented model, to my great satisfaction.
Senator from the Landes,
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces
For this tenth edition of the Defence Summer University, we have focused on new challenges that are both economic – the crisis and the absolute need to stabilize our public finances – and geopolitical – the reorganisation of countries around the Mediterranean, the extension of the arc of crisis, to which I prefer the concept “area of major strategic investments”, to Asia, as a region of global ambitions and tensions and, finally, the rise of emerging countries who are legitimately claiming recognition of their influence, as long as they also take on the duties that go with their responsibilities.
This brief reminder of the challenges we are facing clearly shows that although there may be some elements of continuity since the White Paper of 2008, we are confronted with a significant reorganisation of the world. We therefore need to provide answers that are political, technical and industrial, allowing France to continue to fully play its role in the entente of nations and with its partners and allies. The next government, whichever it may be, will need to make decisions that will have a crucial impact on our future. That is why we have created working groups in order to anticipate the review or the drafting of a new White Paper. The reports of these groups on maritimization, cyber-defence, sovereign industry, the future of nuclear forces and the force commitment doctrine will be presented to you during the University. We also wished to increase the participation of our European MP partners, as it is undeniably true that no nation can continue to bear the investments needed for its defence alone. I firmly believe that parliamentary control and monitoring of cooperation and joint action in the field of defence are essential. Inevitable pooling, shared responsibilities and acceptance of possible mutual dependence cannot be left only to governments. Such rapprochements need the support of citizens and therefore the approval of parliaments. This is a difficult and long-term task, but the only alternative is renunciation. To avoid marginalization or dependence, we need a political rapprochement and great trust. Who better than parliaments can work towards that goal? My greatest hope is that this tenth edition of the University will give us the opportunity to make progress in that direction.
Admiral Bernard ROGEL
Chief of Naval Staff
This year, the Defence University has chosen to meet in Brest, a city that boasts a long-standing military and maritime tradition. Today, all the components of the navy are present in Brest or the surrounding region: The naval base, surface vessels and marine units, a naval aviation base and submarines at Ile Longue. The recently created Defence Base in Brest ranks among the largest in France. It employs over 10,000 people of all origins, civilian and military. This University will therefore take place in a region marked by its military history and particularly concerned by current defence-related developments.