In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Admiral Bernard Rogel
The French strategy for defense and security has been defined in the new French White Paper. It is a continuation of the previous version, but it also identifies new challenges, including an increase in the number of maritime issues such as a significant rise in maritime traffic, which is almost our only way of logistic supply; tensions over offshore resources; and transnational organized crime committed at sea.
In this context, France reaffirms the priority of retaining an independent national capability, especially with regard to the defense of its vital interests. This is our motivation for maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent and a versatile, multipurpose, and blue-water navy. Moreover, protection of our interests lends itself well to coalition operations. The decision to act in coalition is, however, as much a military matter as a political question. Shared ambitions, joint analysis of threats, and common procedures can lead to conducting joint operations with other navies, such as the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) mission Atalanta against piracy off the Horn of Africa, the Libyan mission, and security actions against drug trafficking. The French Navy continues to prepare for joint operations mainly through maintaining a high level of interoperability with its allies, thanks to joint exercises on the one hand, and pre-positioning closer to its areas of interest on the other. Thus, when a political decision is made, the French Navy is ready to respond at short notice, alone or with allies as directed.
More integrated projects are being launched today with the U.S. Navy, as illustrated by the common air-defense-focused task force at sea, or with the Royal Navy around the concept of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. Those forces could form the basis of a joint force with other allies in exercises as well as in real-life operations.