Conference Paper

French Military Transformation: A Cultural Approach to Evolutionary Innovation?

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

Since the end of the Cold War, many scholars have contributed to the military transformation literature and discussed the critical changes taking place in land forces today – but few have addressed France in depth. This paper aims at filling a gap in the current literature by exploring the ongoing operational transformations in the French army in the post-cold setting. A threefold analysis will be used to identify the key contemporary drivers of change ultimately leading to military transformation. A global level of analysis will point out the necessity for the French nation to adapt its military to confront the evolution of the threats and the changing face of the enemy. A regional level of analysis will demonstrate how the French military does not merely adapt but innovates through institutional mimetic isomorphism. The US and Europe are France’s two spheres of influence inducing different transformations in the French military. The atlantist influence shows the technologization of the French forces and its limits while France’s ties with Europe highlights a conceptual and cultural understanding of change. Following on this cultural constructivist approach, the final level of analysis will show how strategic culture, on a national level, can also be understood as a driver of transformation. Finally, this paper will show how these strategic orientations translate in practical operational changes. Professionalization of the forces, elitism and increased networking will be used to present the challenges and potential limitations of the post-Fordist military. This scoping study hopes to shed light on the current ongoing transformations of the French military and the key literature associated to it, while, simultaneously, pointing out the current theoretical and practical limits associated with military transformation.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
This article explores the evolution of the field of military innovation studies, critiquing its theoretical foundations and setting out a number of challenges that must be overcome if the field is to fulfil its potential and enhance its contribution to wider disciplinary debates as well as to the practitioner community. Tensions between the main theoretical approaches to military innovation are examined as are the challenges inherent in its increasingly multidisciplinary character. The issue of whether military innovation studies constitutes a field in its own right is addressed before recommendations are made to expand the field’s research agenda, broaden its theoretical base and strengthen its multidisciplinary credibility.
Article
Since the end of the Cold War, the armed forces have undergone historic changes. Social scientists have attempted to define the major contours of this military transformation, often describing these changes as "post-modern. " This paper claims that it is more productive to understand current military transformation as post-Fordist. Drawing on industrial sociology, four key axes of change can be identified in the military: the move from a mass military to a core and periphery force structure, outsourcing, centralization, and network warfare.
Article
As a result of new strategic threats, Europe's land forces are currently undergoing a historic transformation which may reflect wider processes of European integration. Europe's mass, mainly conscript armies are being replaced by smaller, more capable, professionalised militaries concentrated into new operational headquarters and rapid reaction brigades, able to plan, command and execute global military interventions. At the same time, these headquarters and brigades are co-operating with each other across national borders at a level which would have been inconceivable in the twentieth century. As a result, a transnational military network is appearing in Europe, the forces in which are converging on common forms of military expertise. This is a groundbreaking study of the military dimensions of European integration, which have been largely ignored until now. It will appeal to scholars across the social sciences interested in the progress of the European project, and the nature of the military today.
Article
This article assesses the state of the art in military innovation research. It begins with a description of the field's four major schools of thought, summarizing their central tenets, key points of similarity and differentiation, and major empirical cases. It then addresses priorities for future research, observing that while much has been learned about innovation originating among senior officers and civilian policy-makers, far less is known about innovation originating in field formations. Recent empirical studies hint at the importance of such bottom-up innovation but little progress has been made in achieving a conceptual understanding of the phenomenon. Therein lies the next major challenge, and opportunity, for the field.
Article
The Kosovo campaign of 1999 demonstrated unambiguously the weakness of European military forces. Recognition of the consequences of this lack of capability has put new vigour into the European defence debate. Yet decline in military capability is systemic in every European country. The Helsinki goals will do nothing to address this decline. National defence budgets over the past 15 years have been decreasing in real terms. Even if current aspirations to hold military spending levels were to be achieved, the decline in capabilities would continue. Military equipment and personnel costs rise faster than domestic inflation, and therefore fewer people and weapons systems can be afforded each year. There is no prospect of significant uplifts in defence budgets in Europe, despite the acknowledged need for a range of expensive enabling capabilities for post-Cold War operations. Palliative measures now on trial are unlikely to have a major impact. The only option for European nations is a progressive integration of their forces to realize the economies of scale that would allow effectiveness to be maintained. There are opportunities for initiatives that would produce short-term pay-offs. Despite the severe political difficulties of a long-term plan for integration, the alternative is worse. Trying to maintain sovereignty in defence provision will mean that the nations of Europe will eventually be unable either to meet the requirements of even their most modest security needs or to exercise any influence over US defence and security policies.
France: In the throes of epoch -making change
  • B Boëne
  • M L Martin
Boëne B. and M.L. Martin (2000) 'France: In the throes of epoch -making change', in
La Dernière Bataille de la France (France's Last Battle)
  • Vincent Desportes
Desportes, Vincent (2015) La Dernière Bataille de la France (France's Last Battle). Paris: Gallimard.
L'ensauvagement : le retour de la barbarie au XXIeme siècle (Savage Century : Back to Barbarism)
  • Thérèse Delpech
Delpech, Thérèse (2005) L'ensauvagement : le retour de la barbarie au XXIeme siècle (Savage Century : Back to Barbarism). Paris : Grasset/Fasquelle.
Pensee Militaire Centre de Doctrine et
  • P Facon
Facon, P. (2019) 'Les Principes de Guerre en 2035,' Pensee Militaire Centre de Doctrine et d'enseignement au commandement, https://www.penseemiliterre.fr/plugins/cdec/documents/114158/cdec-forum-international-
Improving in War: Military Adaptation and the British in the
  • T Farrell
Farrell, T. (2010) 'Improving in War: Military Adaptation and the British in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2006-2009', Journal of Strategic Studies, 33 (4).
From one exceptionalism to another: France's strategic relations with the United States and the United Kingdon in the post-Cold War era
  • R Korda
Korda, R. (2016) 'The Dilemma of Defense Innovation and Adaptation', Small War Journal, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-dilemma-of-defense-innovation-and-adaptation Pannier, A. (2017) 'From one exceptionalism to another: France's strategic relations with the United States and the United Kingdon in the post-Cold War era', Journal of Strategic