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La réforme du secteur de sécurité, entre bureaucraties et stratégie

Tuesday, 29. April 2014 17:11

Ifri’s Defense Research Unit has just published the issue #51 of its Focus Stratégique series entitled:

La réforme du secteur de sécurité, entre bureaucraties et stratégie.

Aline Leboeuf is a research fellow at Ifri. In 2013, she defended her PhD focused on Security Sector Reform in Sierra Leone.

The issue can be downloaded here.

Abstract :

The concept of Security Sector Reform (SSR) was developed during the 1990s as a response to several problems chiefly faced by countries in post-conflict transitions: weak new governments; conflicting civil-military relations; ill-defined division of tasks between the armed forces, the police, and the judiciary system; and tension between the requirements to stabilize the country and to establish the rule of law. SSR is the product of three distinct institutional traditions (development aid, military cooperation, and democracy promotion). Bureaucratic dynamics have changed the concept and influenced its implementation, leading to a discrepancy between the stated comprehensive ambitions and the more elusive, piecemeal results. The implementation of SSR projects in several post-conflict settings (Sierra Leone, DRC, Afghanistan) has often resulted in either partial success or utter failure. The author presents her vision of a successful SSR: it must stem from a strategic vision that can be readily embraced by the host state and that takes into account local circumstances. It must then be translated into credible policies tailored to practical and operational realities of institutions’ work and to power balances between local forces in play. While implementation requires flexibility (particularly regarding the pace of reforms), the author stresses the importance of mechanisms conducive to a legitimate and credible security sector, such as norm enforcement and incentives for effectiveness.

Contents :


La RSS: un enjeu stratégique

La RSS, un objet bureaucratique “bricolé”

Vers une approche stratégique de la RSS


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Quelles perspectives pour l’industrie européenne des armements terrestres?

Wednesday, 2. April 2014 8:35

FS50Ifri’s Defense Research Unit has just published the issue #50 of its Focus Stratégique series entitled:

Quelles perspectives pour l’industrie européenne des armements terrestres ?

Aude-Emmanuelle Fleurant is the Director of the Armaments and Defense Economics Program at the Institut de recherche stratégique de l’Ecole militaire (IRSEM).

Yannick Quéau is associate researcher at the Groupe de recherche et d’information sur la paix et la sécurité (GRIP, Bruxelles).

The issue can be downloaded here.


Over the last decade, the European land armament industry developed into a thriving market driven by growing demand from the BRICS, a new wave of emerging countries and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis has put European countries under severe strain, prompting them to take fiscal consolidation measures affecting defence budgets. In this context, European land armament corporations have looked for buoyant economies beyond Europe to maintain their market shares and outlets. As the fragmentation of the industry is proving to be the key challenge faced by these firms, this article explores several scenarios that could allow them to address it.

Contents :


Transition et incertitudes pour les forces terrestres occidentales

Le portrait de la demande

Les tendances affectant l’offre


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The Amphibious Endeavour: Tactical Risk, Strategic Influence

Thursday, 27. February 2014 17:19

Focus stratégique 46 bisIfri’s Security Studies Center has just published the issue #46 bis of its Focus stratégique series entitled:

The Amphibious Endeavour: Tactical Risk, Strategic Influence

An officer in the French Army, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Garnier is on a research assignment at the Defence Research Laboratory (LRD). He is a graduate of the French military academy Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr and of the Collège Interarmées de Défense (CID) (Joint Service Defence College).

His new Focus Stratégique can be downloaded here.


Despite a centuries-long history, amphibious operations were rarely in the spotlight before the Second World War. Meteorological constraints and joint planning challenges both emphasize their risky and complex character. Lessons learned highlight indispensable operational requirements such as superior naval power, favourable strength ratio for disembarked forces and the advantage of surprise. Nowadays, amphibious operations have adapted to new conditions by strengthening joint forces integration, and by taking advantage of the most modern naval and military technologies. Although amphibious operations remain a high-end perspective in a total war concept, they still represent a key capability for “forcible entry” in a world where 50% of the population lives by the sea. Stretching over the entire operational spectrum, amphibious operations will prove more and more their importance in low-to-medium intensity crisis scenarios, rather than in the hypothetical use of all-out force and wide-scale operations.



The ineluctable principles of amphibious warfare

Amphibious operations in the face of modern anti-access strategies

Strategic utility of amphibious operations: forcible entry and scalability of force


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Defence Reform in the United Kingdom: A Twenty-First Century Paradox

Wednesday, 3. April 2013 12:22

Ifri’s Defence Research Unit has just published the issue #43 of its Focus stratégique series entitled:

Defence Reform in the United Kingdom: A Twenty-First Century Paradox

Dr. John Louth is Senior Research Fellow and Director for Defence, Industries and Society at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. His work has included the audit and governance of the UK strategic deterrent, the implementation of risk-based governance regimes into energy businesses, UK Ministry of Defence and industry partnering initiatives. He spent part of his career in the Middle East running separate national programmes to develop commercial and defence capabilities across a number of Gulf States. Dr. Louth has also worked as a senior adviser to the European Defence Agency on the development of pan-European procurement policies and practices. He teaches at Roehampton University Business School in London and is also a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

His Focus stratégique can be downloaded here.

Summary of the article:

The context of budgetary constraint offered a strong incentive for the 2010 Coalition Government to improve its management of defence equipment. Before that, the previous Labour governments already focused on smart acquisition so that the procurement process could reach a trade-off between military performance, the R&D costs and the purchase value. Thus, several smart acquisition reforms aimed at importing private sector skills and behaviours into the defence public domain. By building its logic around public-private partnership (PPP), smart acquisition can be apprehended as an interlocking of three factors: organisation, the high level of process and body of knowledge, and the people who promoted and enacted its processes, behaviours and objectives. Due to organisational confusion, ineffective project management and unclear objectives, successive UK governments have failed to manage operational and financial risks, cost overruns and diseconomies.



The Narrative of Reform

The Road to Smart Procurement

The Physicality of Smart Acquisition

Lessons and Insights from Defence Reform in the UK


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Old Wine in New Bottles? French Security and Defence Policy under Nicolas Sarkozy

Tuesday, 31. May 2011 7:31

Etienne de Durand recently gave a speech before the Institute for International and European Affairs of Dublin, on “French Security and Defence Policy under Nicolas Sarkozy“.

The IIEA has been kind enough to put the video online on Youtube, so we’ve inserted it here. Since it lasts almost 45 minutes, here’s the outline of the speech:

  • Introduction
  • Where do we come from? Traditional French or Gaullist Policy (starts at 3’10″)
    • Origins
    • Defense policy during the 1990s
    • The Iraq war and afterwards
  • Sarkozy’s New Look Policy, the FR-UK Deal and Its Implications (starts at 17’30″)
    • French security policy under Sarkozy
    • Sarkozy’s military policy and FR-UK deal
  • Conclusion (starts at 41’38″)


We hope you’ll like the video. Don’t hesitate to leave comments here !

Category:Divers, Grapevine | Comment (0) | Autor:

The Franco-German couple is dead. Long live the Franco-British couple!

Tuesday, 26. April 2011 7:00

The British quality newspaper The Guardian dedicated the week from 21st to 26th of March to… France. A very kind initiative, or so it first seemed when I heard this information at breakfast time on France Inter.

“New Europe” is a weekly series of articles dedicated to Britain’s continental neighbours, apparently motivated by the wish to build a bridge over the Channel. In the case of France, the initiative looked more like an exercise of autosuggestion… Falling in the trap of stereotypes, several articles try to convince the readers that the French are respectable people despite  their rudeness, strikes, pills, sexism, and even “failure to wash”.

However, one article starts with this assertion: “The French distrust us”. Distrust and dislike is indeed a historical feature of the relations between the peoples of France and Great Britain, explained by the two countries’ many shared (demographic, economic, geographic) characteristics as well as by their traditional divides on European integration and defence, attitudes towards the United States and foreign interventions – to name but just a few.

Following a rapprochement on European defence initiated 15 years ago by Britain and France at Saint-Malo,  the two countries have recently seemed to abandon their respective long-time bros (Germany on the one hand, America on the other) in favour of a bilateral long-term commitment that’s putting the rest of diplomatic alliances in the shade. Since November 2010, it has been repeated in the media, in political discourses as well as in the treaty, that France and Britain share a common (strategic) vision and that no situation is envisaged where the national interest of one party would be threatened without that of the other party being at stake. Trust and friendship thus seem to characterise high-level relations between the two countries. Still, the profound split between Paris and London over Iraq was less than a decade ago. At the time, the French Minister of foreign affairs (Dominique de Villepin) asserted:

“To those who choose the use of force and think that they can resolve the complexity of the world by a rapid and preventive action, we oppose a long-term determined action.”

In 2003, France was seating on the side of Germany, opposing the UK, the US, Spain and Italy, and advocated negotiations rather than military intervention. Now,what if France had opposed intervention in Libya in 2011? The circumstances of intervention in Iraq and in Libya are of course very different (be it only regarding the UN resolution), but if the present agreement between London and Paris on Libya has somewhat buried Iraq, a future divergence over foreign intervention could in turn bury Libya.  Today, the risk is limited. The Anglo-French relationship has not been one of fierce opposition since the end of Gaullism, and even less so since the end of Thatcherism. Plus, since Nicolas Sarkozy came to power, the French strategic posture towards the “Anglo-Saxon” world has shifted, the President being even called “the American” in the US. Indeed, he built a close relationship with George W. Bush, proceeded to the return of France in NATO’s integrated command and Wikileaks recently revealed that he disagreed with the French “excessive” position over Iraq.

Just as diplomatic proximity between Britain and France was getting more concrete, Paris and Berlin started to fall out of love. France and Germany used to be the drivers of the development of European security and defence tools and policies. But today, Germany is being criticised (including by France) for refusing to intervene in Libya, and even accused to “sink European defence”. Of course, Paris-Berlin is still the main economic axis in the European Union, and the ties between France and Germany are too strong to break over Libya, but criticism against Berlin’s refusal to use force is reaching new heights.

Looking at the dark side of things, France’s recent diplomatic reorientation highlights the fact that national interests, and the decisions made to preserve those interests, have a tendency to shift regularly. There is a presidential election in 2012 and Sarkozy will not necessarily be re-elected. Should the Left (or a Gaullist right-wing candidate) come to power, the country might undergo a new strategic shift that could damage the Anglo-French Alliance. In the long run, the newlyweds will have to share more than stereotypes, as they have embarked on a trip where they will be flying wing to wing for the next decades.

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The return of the Troubles?

Monday, 11. April 2011 11:00

“After a 30-year winter of sectarian violence, Northern Ireland today has the promise of a springtime of peace.” It is with these words of hope that the former US President Bill Clinton commented the signing of the Belfast Agreement on April 10th 1998 which put an end to years of bloodshed and centuries of tensions. Yet, less than two weeks ago, on April 2nd, Ronan Kerr, a Catholic Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer, was murdered by dissident republicans when a bomb exploded under his car. Thirteen years after the Belfast Agreement, terrorist attacks have suddenly increased and cast doubt on the durability of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

‘The Troubles’ evolved from 1969 to the end of the twentieth century and led to the deaths of over 3 500 people. The Good Friday Agreement finally addressed the deep rooted causes of the conflict. Based on compromise and inclusiveness, it led to the creation of a successful power-sharing government. The main Loyalist and Nationalist terrorist groups such as the UVF, UDA and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), agreed to put an end to their campaigns and had their weapons decommissioned. In 1995, the European Union launched its Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland. Two other EU PEACE programmes followed over the years and in total almost two billion euros will have been invested in peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland by 2013. On paper, all signs seem to point to the success of the peace process in Northern Ireland and the progress of stability and reconciliation.

Yet, according to various sources there has been a recent surge in paramilitary activities in the country. As stated by the MI5, these dissident republican groups are the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA as well as Óglaigh na hÉireann (the “soldiers of Ireland”) and were formed after successive splits within the PIRA. As far as the other side is concerned, there has been no evidence of recent activity from dissident loyalist groups.

On March 27th, a bomb containing 50 kg of explosives was left outside a courthouse in Derry and the attack was blamed on dissident republicans. Back in March 2009, the Real IRA killed two British soldiers and the Continuity IRA was responsible for the death of a policeman. More recently, August 2010 was a particularly violent month: the Real IRA intensified its campaign and planted booby traps and car bombs in various areas. On August 3rd, a car containing 200lb of explosives exploded outside the Derry police station, damaging several businesses. The MI5’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has classified the threat level as “severe” in Northern Ireland and “substantial” in Great Britain. Even more alarming, the threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism was published for the first time on 24 September 2010. Before that, the MI5 would only assess the international terrorist threat.

In November 2010, King’s College’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) published a report entitled “Return of the Militants: Violent Dissident Republicanism”. This study stresses that republican dissident groups have increased their activity and still represent a possible threat for both Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. It points out that the rise in activities by these hardline splinter groups was not expected by security forces.

For the author of this report, Martyn Frampton, Northern Ireland finds itself at a critical moment because two generations are coming together and joining the ranks of militant dissident groups. These generations are the disaffected youths and delinquents that did not witness the violence of the “Troubles” along with veterans from the Provisional IRA who rejected the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly and feel disillusioned by Sinn Fein and what they see as unkept promises. In the next four years, 245 million pounds of additional funding will be paid to help the PSNI, the successor to the controversial Royal Ulster Constabulary, struggle against attacks from dissident groups. This need for extra funds highlights the new intensity of the threats which have been at their highest since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Could the resurgence of terrorist attacks reflect the stagnation of post-conflict peace in Northern Ireland? The advancements that have been made since the 1998 Agreement need to be put into perspective. The number of “peace walls” that were built to divide rival Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods has increased. In his article for the Financial Times, “Downturn puts Northern Ireland peace under fire”, John Murray Brown states that since the ceasefire, these walls have grown from 18 to 88. Sectorisation is still pervasive and today, integrated education covers only 9 per cent of schoolchildren. The massive injection of funds by the EU into Northern Ireland has now proved to have its limits as far as changing mentalities is concerned; economic aid is not sufficient without a solid strategy for peace.

Mari Fitzduff explains that a conflict never ends, it only evolves. This could perfectly reflect the case of Northern Ireland. The 1998 peace resolution led to idealistic hopes that were rapidly transformed into a certain disenchantment. This is epitomized by the recent resurgence of paramilitary activity which represents an unsettling and unexpected threat to peace in Northern Ireland. Yet are the growing number of attacks only part of the post-conflict path to peace or could they mean that the Troubles are back?

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Prospects and Pitfalls of Franco-British Co-operation on Defence

Wednesday, 6. October 2010 6:59

Etienne de Durand has just published in RUSI‘s Future Defence Review series an article in which he analyses the existent necessity and opportunities for France and Britain to develop defence co-operation. He argues that co-operation is not only advisable but also feasible, and would reinforce both the transatlantic links and the European defence project.


“France and the United Kingdom must exploit the present window of opportunity and substantially enhance defence co-operation. […] Operational demands and the consequences of the financial crisis mean that Britain and France can no longer preserve independent military capabilities that fully support their aspirations as global powers. If nothing is done, they will shrink beyond repair in volume and critical capabilities. Given extant capability gaps, traditional trade-offs will no longer suffice, and have actually already become counter-productive. […] Co-operation is now both rational, politically feasible and extremely urgent.”

“Entente or Oblivion : Prospects and Pitfalls of Franco-British Co-operation on Defence” is available for download here. Your comments are highly welcome !

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The UK and Torture: a Couple of Observations Prior to Further Investigation

Tuesday, 20. July 2010 7:26

The Guardian released last week declassified documents incriminating the previous British government (Tony Blair’s) of extraordinary rendition and of involvement in torture. Just over a year after President Obama released what are now known as the torture memos, which justified the use of torture in the War on Terror, the new British coalition government decided to shed light on its country’s involvement in similar practices. It was the Binyam Mohammed case which earlier this year ignited the debate on the involvement of the UK in torture and extraordinary rendition.

Whilst analysis of the documents themselves should be left to the lawyers, who believe it will take 10 years to investigate the 500,000 documents related to this affair, a couple of preliminary observations are in order.

Despite being rendered public over a year after the US’ torture memos, these documents testify a clear will for change from a newly constituted British government. Last year, the US release of the torture memos coincided with the newly elected Obama administration and in similar fashion, the UK’s newly elected coalition decided to investigate torture allegations only 2 months after its accession to power. Unlike the US, however, which had decided not to prosecute those guilty of torture, the UK decided to fully investigate these allegations and take action following the release of these documents.

In the UK’s documents it appears clear that there is no will to render torture more accessible: acts of torture are clearly forbidden, stress and duress techniques are prohibited and the papers clearly outline that prosecution is to be expected if these methods are found to have been used.
Yet, extraordinary rendition is evidently accounted for in these documents and breaches international law. Whilst acknowledging that prisoners were being treated inhumanely (“It appears that prisoners may not be being treated in accordance with the appropriate standards. Given that they are not within our custody or control the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this”), in Guantanamo by the US, the British government still allowed for British nationals to be sent to the American prison based in Cuba (“Subsequent to this Mubanga was handed over to US authorities and renditioned to GTMO”). Such actions were taken despite article 3.1 of the UN Convention Against Torture stating that:

“No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture”.

The ongoing investigation is bound to reveal more about New Labour’s involvement in torture and extraordinary rendition, however it is less sure that the full investigation will be rendered public, as David Cameron stated last week, and that it will be able to restore the UK’s reputation as well as trust in Mi5 and Mi6. Only time will tell.

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Binyam Mohamed and British intelligence oversight

Thursday, 25. March 2010 14:12

Last month, to quote Kings of War blogger, Rob Dover,

“a veritable poo-storm hit the British Court of Appeal (…) as a private exchange of correspondence – between the government’s lawyer Jonathan Sumption QC and the Court – became public. The government had asked that part of the judgment relating to the alleged torture of Binyam Mohammed be redacted (or removed) in the interests of protecting the reputation of our Security Service (known to nearly everyone as MI5).”

The case of Binyam Mohamed is rather complex (see this piece for starters, see also this piece for the various court rulings in pdfs, see Scott Horton’s feed for a more holistic appreciation of recent developments news on this). First and foremost, it entails a credible allegation of torture complicity by British intelligence. Yet, on closer inspection, it provides researchers with a rare opportunity to depict more general, systemic flaws with the British “art” of celebrating intelligence accountability. Amongst other things, it reveals how national security has become conflated with national embarrassment throughout the oversight proceedings on this particular accountability case.

While the official British intelligence watchdog (aka as the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)) has looked into this case (see its Renditions report (2007)), the most revealing information is to be found elsewhere. In Mohamed v. Foreign Secretary, the British High Court revealed (in 2008), how the ISC, which supposedly operates from within the ring of secrecy, has been kept outside of the loop in this (and arguably a number of other cases that will gradually come to the fore).

Actually, it was even worse: Not only has crucial information (about the British knowledge of American torture techniques being used on the British resident prior to his subsequent interrogation by a British intelligence official in Pakistan in 2002)  been withheld in the oversight process (arguably, this would amount to the more typical/frequent stone-walling of information by the accountee). No. This time, we know, that upon questioning, the ISC was positively misled/lied to by those who are supposed to answer to it in a factual and timely manner. Plus, and this is more delicate for the basic legitimacy of British parliamentary intelligence oversight — the public knows that the ISC was, again, not only oblivious but also unduly credulous in its handling of the matter.

So what? Well, we note that the fox who guards the henhouse has rarely been caught munching like this before. Against the backdrop of popular assertions that the ISC is fully informed, this revelation comes at a very high cost. Not only is the very credibility of Britain’s intelligence watchdog on the line. More importantly, it can threaten the very social fabric of British society. When egregious malfeasance allegations are demonstrably not properly investigated, why pay deferrence to public institutions in the first place?

Like with most scandals, there is also a positive aspect to it. The British may finally cease the moment to reform their sub-standard oversight architecture. Arguably, we have now crossed the tipping point. While the ISC’s reputation as an institution of pro-active, independent and efficient intelligence oversight was long damaged (consider the haphazard role it played throughout the Iraqi WMD investigation, see this book for a more systematic appreciation of the ISC’s work)

Three points, I believe, should be kept in mind with respect to the (hopefully pending) reform of intelligence oversight in the UK:

First, the ‘ring of secrecy’ arrangement, needs to seriously reconsidered – if not abandoned, altogether. Its underlying assumption that the ISC is in a very privileged position as concerns its access to information is highly exaggerated. The committee’s access to information proved to be poorest when information was most critical. Naturally, this has more worrisome consequences. With a view to the subsequent ISC reports, the British public may be led to believe that its representatives have things ‘under control’. Instead, (at least with respect to the ISC rendition report this was the case), it may depict a highly distorted account of crucial foreign policy activities.

Second, the BM case shows how the ISC members, by and large, prefer a consultant’s position to that of a democratic controller. Granted, the restricted ISC mandate ties the hands of individual committee members but they have pursued a very narrow interpretation of the mandate at a time when a bolder approach would have been necessary in the interest of a more balanced parliamentary-executive relationship. Granted, too, the very pursuit of ‘propriety’ dimensions is not yet part of their formal remit. So, yes, one may give the ISC credit for having pushed the envelope on this a little. Still, once they are in the business of investigating malfeasance allegations, they seem too readily satisfied with earning in-put legitimacy.

Third, despite the fact that political divides inside the ISC are less noticeable (compared to the intelligence oversight committees in the US Congress and the PKG in the Bundestag), we are still a long way from impartial oversight in Britain. This became clear throughout and after the renditions investigation. For example, one can point to various conflicting interests and revolving doors. (Consider, for example, the fact that the current ISC chairman was twice the addressee of letters from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Renditions – each time in very different capacities though, see the archive of http://www.extraordinaryrenditions.org; equally ’sub-optimal’ is the fact that the former foreign secretary M. Beckett has steadily refused re-opening the renditions investigations (during her brief spell as ISC chairperson) .

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