Allocution de l
On a Regular Basis Doctrines
Are Challenged by New Technologies
Speech As Delivered by
Admiral Édouard Guillaud, French Chief of Staff, at the New
technologies and military doctrines symposium in Singapore.
June 07, 2013.
Source : EMA Paris.
Technology and doctrine are two faces
of the same coin and they mutually interfere: doctrine is the seed for
development of new technologies and technology sets conditions for what can be
done, therefore influencing doctrine.
These two domains are in constant
evolution: any technological or doctrinal reluctance to change leads to failure;
the winner is the one who anticipates, who puts his opponent off guard and
adapts himself faster to ever changing conditions.
This is a constant challenge for
defence and security leaders, whether in America, in Europe or Asia, as long as
they are committed in international security and stability.
In my short brief, I will begin with
generic considerations, then set a French perspective, followed by the
challenges as I see them, ending with what future we have to address.
The generic considerations will be seen
through three acknowledgements which are universally shared.
The first acknowledgement is about
technology. It is that military equipment is increasingly complex and hopefully
increasingly efficient. Of course, this has positive and negative consequences.
The first positive consequence is that,
through technology, any assessment is quicker, more accurate and safer; this
relates to environment, communication and action. In Libya, for instance, thanks
to tactical and satellite-based links, the combined action of our aircraft,
helicopters, UAVs, ships and submarines was coordinated in real time – meaning a
complete loop within a few seconds, not minutes.
The second benefit of technology is the
increased efficiency of any force. This allows a reduced volume of deployed
forces. In Mali, just a few thousand well-equipped and mobile soldiers were
enough to reconquer the northern part of the country – of course, they had good
combat support and combat service support. Another example: on 13th January
2013, four Rafale combat aircraft taking off from mainland France stroke 21
targets from a stand-off distance, with 21 hits.
But technology has its negative
The cost of military equipment is
sky-rocketing, which implies downsizing of the armed forces: affordability and
sustainability are at stake in the long run! And yet, quality does not always
replace quantity: to seize or control a town, you still need to deploy thousands
of soldiers (remember Fallujah 2004). There is a threshold between quality and
quantity, which cannot be defined once and for all.
The second negative consequence is that
complexity implies a difficulty in fully mastering any new equipment. In
addition, fleet reduction creates new constraints on training.
The life cycle of armament programs
should not be counted in years, but in dozens of years: in the 50s, the life
span of a jet fighter was 15 to 25 years; the life span of the Rafale will be
twice as much. Today, most of our major pieces of equipment have been designed
during the Cold War, for high-intensity combat; almost none of them have
actually been used to fulfill the very mission they had been designed for. This
is the time when doctrine finds its full significance, to support this necessary
adaptation to real life and to real use.
Doctrine is my second acknowledgement.
As we know, on a regular basis, doctrines are challenged
by new technologies. Missile defence versus nuclear deterrence is the
perfect example of this.
Moreover, a single item can be read in
different ways. This is, for instance, the case for RPAs, the use of which is
also linked to legal and ethical factors. For the same reason, the cyberwar is
faced to the same challenge with one more difficulty: a complete porosity
between civilian and military environments.
By the end of the day, the challenge
mainly lies into the multiple aspects and consequences of new technologies. This
requires understanding the risks and the threats, but also shaping the answers,
through a systemic analysis.
My third acknowledgement is the linkage
between the two: relevant technologies and doctrines are two necessary
prerequisites for military success, but they are not sufficient by themselves.
One example: in order to reach the
desired military end state, the full life cycle of any ammunition must be
coherent from the correct storage facility to the successful delivery on target,
through the adequate launcher system correctly manned.
All this implies to have adapted combat
and support capabilities, but also intelligence and command capabilities: the
role of the individual is of paramount importance at all levels.
As a consequence, we need to have an
efficient operational and logistic organisation and, what is even most
important, we need to have enough personnel, both in terms of quantity and
quality. They need to be well-recruited, well-educated and well-trained. All
these aspects of a military capability need to be taken into account: with given
equipment and doctrine, they make the difference.
Moreover, technology-minded does not
mean technology-addict. In other words, we need to be cold-blooded towards
technology. Seeing everything and knowing everything is not achievable through
technology only. It is true of intelligence and systemic analysis, where only
individuals can go to contact, perceive and feel. Robots, although useful, will
not replace totally existing equipment; the man in the loop will always be the
ultimate factor. In my personal view, this is good news!
capability approach is determined by its military culture and by the level of
ambition it has for its defence.
It is our legacy that France is
overseas and on all oceans. We have Defence and Co-operation agreements with
many countries. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,
France is both one of the major stakeholders and shareholders of international
Our armed forces must be able to act on
various theatres, often at the same time, to carry out missions over the entire
spectrum, all the way from high-intensity to peace-keeping.
Our ambition is to conduct operations
sometimes autonomously, most of the time within a coalition, but always abiding
by international laws. As a founding member of NATO and the European Union,
France plays a leading role in both organisations. This position is key in terms
of interoperability: intelligence, command, combat capabilities, support,
logistics, individual and collective training.
The technical and doctrinal
consequences are quite obvious and have been made clear through our latest White
Paper: we have chosen a full-fledged, expeditionary military tool, and we want
to master most necessary techniques and technologies to have a sustainable range
of capacities and capabilities.
What are the
Many armed forces used to have
versatile capabilities leading to a “high-end” only vision of operations, to
face all situations and threats with the required level of reactivity. The basic
idea was “he who can do the most can do the less”. But today, this vision is
barely sustainable, financially wise.
Moreover, the “versatile” items or
equipment are either too powerful or powerless when faced in irregular courses
as terrorism or guerrilla warfare. In asymmetrical or hybrid conflicts – which
should be the dominant type of future engagements – the increasingly
“transverse” nature of risks and threats require that we find “transverse”
answers to them. No one can do that alone, because of the range of the needed
competences, and costs.
The military assets on which to put
emphasis are reactivity for command structures and intelligence gathering,
agility and flexibility of forces and mastering, and control of the military
effects, such as accuracy and lethality.
The idea of “exact technological
requirement” has become of paramount importance; the point is to elaborate our
doctrines through a seamless and constantly evolving process.
There are three
domains in which I consider that progress can be made:
To better anticipate the requirements,
we need to increase our efforts on prospective thinking: we need to be more
open-minded to other disciplines, working in hubs that associate doctrinal
centres, ops experts, armament engineers, industrialists and so on.
To adapt more quickly, we have to
reinforce our reactive adaptation processes in the industrial, doctrinal and
budget fields. Shortening the lessons learned loop is also part of it.
We have to rethink the way we launch
our procurement programs. The real issue is: should technologies be guaranteed
nationally or shared with others? It is a major stake and a real responsibility
for any country and moreover for a nuclear and space power.
To conclude, in an ever changing world,
facing ever more complex situations, we have to adapt ourselves ever more faster.
This implies that we know better how to use the linkage between new technologies
and evolving doctrines. This is not only “best value for money” but also “best
potential for money”