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General de Rousiers

The EU As a Security Provider : Hand in Hand With Partners

Speech delivered by General Patrick de Rousiers (French Air Force)*, chairman of the European Union Military Committee [1] at the Berlin Security Conference,[2] Berlin, December 3, 2014.

General de Rousiers in Berlin : "6.500 civilian and military EU personnel are engaged in 15 EU operations and missions"...

Excellencies, Generals and Admirals, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first thank Brigadier General (ret.) Scherz for his kind introduction and let me congratulate the "Behöerdenspiegel" for organizing this conference and selecting a very up to date topic.

Today, it is the third time I am speaking at the Berlin Security Conference in my position as Chairman of the EU Military Committee and Military Advisor to the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Mogherini.

General de Rousiers with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Federica Mogherini

It’s a pleasure to come to Berlin again as this city is the very best example that security challenges can be overcome. Less than four weeks ago Berlin celebrated the 25th anniversary of the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall in a very impressive way. For Europe and large parts of the world, the 8th of November 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the bipolar order which was the division into East and West. I would very much hope that the peaceful developments of 1989 could be transferred to other regions in our neighbourhood and beyond.

But let me now focus on the topic of my intervention "The EU as a security provider - hand in hand with partners". I will split my intervention into two parts: Firstly, I am going to provide a quick overview on EU's engagement in supporting international efforts to provide security. In the second part I will speak about EU's military cooperation with partners.

Let me start with the "EU's engagement as a security provider".

Europe's security environment is evolving significantly. Ongoing conflicts and instability in our immediate and wider neighbourhood remain a particular cause for great concern. Just recently, the EU High Representative, Mrs Mogherini, stated "that the risks in the South and in the East have equal priority and must be tackled simultaneously". Three weeks ago the EU Defence Minister Council reiterated in Brussels that the EU has to assume increased responsibilities as a security provider. But where do we stand today?

General Patrick de Rousiers in Berlin : "The "EU is a security provider"

Let me provide five examples of activity of ongoing efforts:

1. Firstly, the EU engages through diplomatic efforts: The EU has been involved in negotiations for various peace settlements. Let me take the example of the Balkans where the EU has taken the lead for the Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. In April last year, Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement on principles governing the normalisation of their relations. This has led to a number of irreversible changes on the ground. It helped to significantly calm down the tensions in that region.

2. Secondly, the EU engages through imposing pressure on those who are responsible for conflicts: Based on Council decisions, the EU launched sanctions to target Russia's economy and also Russian individuals and Ukrainian separatists after the Russian seizure of the Crimea and Sebastopol and later on following instability in Eastern Ukraine. One has to emphasize that these decisions were taken in a carefully calibrated way by the 28 Member States.

3. Thirdly, the EU fosters economic growth and good governance in those countries which require support: This applies to various countries in Africa, in the Balkans and also in the East like Ukraine. The European Commission is engaged through various programmes to enhance development, provide humanitarian aid - or strengthen good governance. Just some figures on Somalia: This year the EU provided humanitarian aid representing a value of 50 Mio Euro. Within the next six years the EU will provide Development Aid of 286 Mio Euro. Not to forget overall payments of 600 Mio Euro to AMISOM so far.

4. Fourthly, the EU undertakes tremendous efforts in providing advice and training to build national capacities in the areas of Rule of Law, Border Monitoring or Coast Guards and also conducts situation monitoring: These EU efforts are primarily implemented through ten civilian missions. As an example, on Monday this week, the EU has started its new civilian Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Kiev.

5. The fifth area of EU activities is the use of military capabilities to stabilize countries or to train and assist military forces: Today, the EU is engaged in five military operations and missions with about 3.700 military forces in the Balkans and in Africa.

In the Balkans, the EU Operation ALTHEA, comprising 900 troops, has been maintaining a safe and secure environment for ten years and is training and advising Bosnian forces and the Ministry of Defence.

But let's now shift to the Southern Neighbourhood, to Africa. This continent is facing many and multifaceted security challenges:
- through fragile states in the North like Libya,
- through Al-Qaeda terrorist activities in Mali and Niger,
- through Boko Haram terrorist activities in Nigeria and Cameroon
- through Al Shabab in Somalia,
- through ethnic and religious rivalries in Central African Republic,
- through piracy in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Guinea.

Last but not least to mention Ebola as humanitarian challenge. In Africa, about 2800 EU troops are engaged in four EU military operations and training missions: The EU Naval Operation Atalanta has been extremely successful in reducing piracy activity in the region since 2009.

First meeting of the Somaliland delegation with ATALANTE and EUCAP Nestor leaders [3]

In Somalia, the EU is providing military training and advice to the Somali Ministry of Defence in Mogadishu. Needless to say that the mission is working in a challenging security environment which we try to balance through force protection integrated as part of the mission.

The third EU military mission in Africa is located in Mali. This mission comprises more than 500 soldiers and has significantly enhanced Malian capabilities to fight against Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb.

At this time, Germany is the main contributor to this mission through providing the Role 2 facilities, conducting river crossing training and support to other training activities.

Last but not least to mention the EU's engagement in the Central African Republic, in the capital Bangui. This operation with about 800 troops started in April this year and is conducting a one year bridging operation in order to achieve a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area until the UN mission MINUSCA is able to take on full responsibility.

Worth noting the fact that preparatory work for a follow on EU advisory mission has started and Council decisions are planned to be taken mid of December.

All these EU operations and missions in Africa are not standalone operations as they are only part of the implementation of the various European Union regional strategies.

Let me conclude this first part. As of today, approximately 6.500 civilian and military EU personnel are engaged in 15 EU operations and missions where they do a great job, sometimes in severe conditions and also risking their lives.

But now, let me turn to my second part "working hand in hand with partners".

"Working hand in hand with partners"

Military cooperation with EU's neighbouring countries is crucial. The EU Heads of State and EU Foreign Ministers in their Council conclusions of Nov and Dec 2013 mentioned two main avenues of approach for cooperation with partners:

1. They explicitly called for cooperation with partner organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, OSCE and the African Union.

2. But they also called for cooperation with strategic partner countries – such as the U.S. and China -[4] and partner countries in the Neighbourhood. As NATO is a key partner of the European Union let me start with the EU – NATO cooperation: Very often, the EU - NATO relationship is criticized as being poorly developed and not sufficient enough. You and I know the reasons why we still have limitations in that relationship; reasons, which are of political nature. However, I would like to emphasize today, that EU-NATO cooperation has been improving over the years.

Let me provide five examples:

General de Rousiers with his NATO counterpart, General Knud Bartels

1. High Level Meetings are taking place regularly : The new EU High Representative, Mrs Mogherini, met NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg on her second day in office. During the meeting, both agreed to work together very closely in the future on security and defence issues. I regularly meet with my counterpart of NATO, General Bartels in order to exchange views on the crisis both in the South and in the East. Our exchanges, of course, include the situation in and around Ukraine. We also participate in EU and NATO Military Committee meetings at CHOD level.

"The new EU High Representative, Mrs Mogherini, met NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg on her second day in office".

2. In the EU Military Committee, which I chair, 22 Military Representatives of the 28 EU Member States are members in both organisations. In our meetings my experience is that all of these 22 representatives are pushing very hard to further enhance the relation with NATO and putting emphasis on cooperation where ever they can. This is coherent with what we hear from Foreign and Defence Ministers. Therefore, when drafting EU military documents, the EU Military Staff is taking into account the issue of NATO-EU cooperation very carefully and tries to avoid duplication or reinvent the wheel.

"The EU has to assume increased responsibilities as a security provider" (EU Defence Minister Council meeting in Brussels)

3. All levels in NATO and in the EU, even down to the desk level, do their utmost to cooperate closely. For example, on Friday this week, a regular meeting will take place of the Directors of the EU and NATO Military Staffs in order to discuss issues of common concern.

4. EU-NATO cooperation is taking place in our operations: NATO and the EU are working together through the EU operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the EU is taking recourse to NATO Command Structure – based on the so-called Berlin Plus agreement. NATO and the EU cooperate in the Horn of Africa in the fight against piracy through EU Operation ATALANTA [5] and NATO Operation Ocean Shield.


Operation Atalanta is the first military operation undertaken by the European Union Naval Force to prevent and combat acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

5. Talks and even cooperation are ongoing in the specific areas of capability development: Quite significant progress has been achieved in the area of harmonizing the capability development processes and work continues on this issue. Consultations are taking place on EU's and NATO's assessment of the European endeavour to establish a Single European Sky for European air traffic. Implications on the military use of the air space and required equipment concern both NATO and the EU. This topic calls for close cooperation. Last but not least, EU has invited NATO to exchange information on their work on future development of Remote Piloted Areal Systems (RPAS).

General Patrick de Rousiers with NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen

Let me conclude on EU-NATO cooperation by saying that relations have intensified and improved over the years on all levels. The glass is at least half full and we will do our best to further foster this relationship within the agreed framework.

As my speaking time is limited, I can't go into detail on EU's relationship with African Union and OSCE. I just want to highlight that the United Nations are another key partner of the EU and that exchange of views with the UN is taking place on a daily basis between Brussels and New York. We also cooperate closely on the ground like in Somalia, Mali and Central African Republic.

I would also like to mention the very well developing military EU-US relations through the interaction between EUMS and US AFRICOM.

Let's now have a look at cooperation with partner countries: Cooperation with partner countries is and will be of mutual benefit. On the one hand, the EU may use partner's capacities for its missions and operations. On the other hand, partner countries may also gain experience from the way the EU is conducting its CSDP operations in the framework of the Comprehensive Approach.

Currently, nine partner countries are formally and fully integrated in EU military operations. We welcome military contributions of Albania, Chile, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey. Just recently also Ukraine and New Zealand provided crucial capabilities to the Antipiracy Operation Atalanta. But there are other examples like Georgia, which is providing infantry forces to the EU Operation in the Central African Republic, or Turkey, being the second largest troop contributor to the EU operation

ALTHEA in the Balkans.[6]

Other partner countries are not participating but supporting our operations. The United States transported EU - trained Somali soldiers from Uganda to Somalia. This US contribution was crucial to our training endeavour for Somalia.

Also to mention China, who supported the Atalanta Operation by providing seven escorts to World Food Programme Shipping.[7]

I'd like to emphasize that through its successful Operations and Missions many partners consider the EU as a reliable, professional security provider.

The EU Military Committee is taking cooperation with partners seriously. Three weeks ago the committee agreed upon a document with several strands to enhance partnership: We have already started to invite CHODs of partner countries to join the EU Military Committee. So far, the Serbian Chief of Defence had the opportunity to present his views and discuss at the EU Military Committee at CHOD level. Invitations to other CHODs from the neighbourhood will follow.

Two other examples for further cooperation with partners are "lessons learned" or partner's contribution to EU's work on "the train and equip programme". The EU's train and Equip initiative, just mentioned, is another crucial step to foster partnership. Germany has played an important role in triggering this process through its "Enable and Enhance Initiative" (E2I). The European External Action Service has started working on this issue. Many issues have to be tackled, but the provision of equipment will be crucial and requires solutions to coordination, financing, local buy-in and risk management.[8]

Source : EUMC.

Let me summarize by providing five key messages:

1. The EU is not a military organisation, the EU is tackling crisis comprehensively through a wide range of tools with the military just being one of them, but a credible one.
2. The November Defence Minister Council has reiterated the urgent need to enable the EU to assume increased responsibilities to act as a security provider. The EU and its European External Action Service (EEAS) which includes the EU Military staff, is capable and very much willing to pursue this issue. However, at the end, it’s the Member States which provide the forces and capabilities to act and take on responsibility.
3. Five ongoing EU military operations and missions with approximately 3.700 personnel are contributing to security on the Balkans and in various regions in Africa. With the EU Military Staff in Brussels, comprising only 200 personnel, the standing EU military organisation can be considered as very slim and effective.
4. EU – NATO cooperation and cooperation with partner countries of our neighbourhood is very high on our agenda. Progress in the cooperation has been achieved over recent years in various areas. But we will continue to further improve cooperation.
5. The EU has evolved as an attractive partner for many nations. More and more partners from around the world are seeking to join the EU in its operations. I consider this to be serious proof that the EU military operations and missions are delivering excellent results and are conducted in an effective and professional way.

Let me conclude:

Today we cannot hope that the number of conflicts will decrease. Thus, we definitively must be prepared to operate in a wide range of complex environments. However this complexity more than ever also requires a wide range of tools. As a consequence, all security providers have to work together closely. As Mrs Mogherini stressed recently: "we have to be consistent and to have a common attitude to the challenges around us".[9]

Thank you very much for your attention and I wish you continued lively discussions during the conference.

Patrick de Rousiers

* General de Rousiers, is a French Air Force general currently serving as chairman of the European Union Military Committee since November 6, 2012.

[1] The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body set up within the Council which directs all EU military activities and provides the Political and Security Committee (PSC) with advice and recommendations on military matters. The EUMC is composed of the Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) of the Member States, who are regularly represented by their permanent Military Representatives (MilReps). The EUMC has a permanent Chairman, selected by the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States and appointed by the Council of the European Union. Formally established in December 2000 by the European Council of Nice, the EUMC is one of several defence and security-related bodies created as a result of the Helsinki Headline Goal, which was decided in December 1999.

A similar committee also exists within NATO. Countries which are both members of EU and NATO have in most cases chosen to use the same person as permanent military representative to both organisations. The EUMC is chaired by a four-star level General Officer, Admiral, or Air Officer for a term of three years. The Chairman is the spokesperson for the EUMC, he participates in PSC meetings as appropriate, he is the military adviser to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR) who heads the EEAS European External Action Service, he represents the primary point of contact with the Operation Commanders of the EU's military operations and he attends Council meetings with defence and security implications.

Berlin Security Conference 2014.

[2] The Congress on European Security and Defence addresses both European armed forces and security organisations in Europe and Non-European units and organisations that cooperate with them. It also addresses respective ministries and agencies, foreign embassies in Germany and national and international companies concerned with security or defence. A special invitation goes also to members of national Parliaments and of the European Parliament. This Congress was first established in 2001 and met six years under the title "Congress on European Defence". Since security and defence aspects are closely related, the congress began to broaden its focus to deal with both subjects. For this reason it was renamed "Congress on European Security and Defence" in 2008. During two days, European ministers and high-ranking military leaders, generals and admirals of NATO and EU nations, meet in Berlin with high representatives of the European Commission or members of national or European Parliaments and top industry managers to discuss defence and security related issues facing the EU. A conference with a plenary session and various panels are the main events of this congress with a large exhibition with national and international companies representing German, European and US industries are complementing the conference providing an excellent opportunity for direct contacts. A reception at the first evening and luncheons on both days allow an efficient networking for all visitors. After years, this congress has become one if not the main yearly event concerning the European Security and Defence Policy. Political, military and industrial leaders gathered in Berlin for the Congress on European Security and Defence last year to discuss European security and defence issues. Nearly 1,000 participants from Germany and abroad attended the two-day event, which included an exhibition. This Berlin Security Conference (BSC) is an initiative of the Behörden Spiegel.

[3] This first meeting took place on board the EU Naval Force Somalia flagship FS Siroco, off Berbera harbour on December 15, 2013. Delegations were led by Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail Zeylai, vice-president of Somaliland, and Étienne de Poncins, EU civilian mission chief. The mission is aimed at reinforcing Eastern Africa and Indian Ocean capacities at sea (EUCAP Nestor).

[4] General Patrick de Rousiers, Chairman of the EU Military Committee, travelled to Beijing on October 9 to hold the first EU-China Dialogue on Security and Defence. This mission, the first of its kind, stems from last March's visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the EU. It was agreed on that occasion – based on the good cooperation so far – to raise the level of EU- China dialogue and cooperation on defence and security. General de Rousiers hold meetings with Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan and Chief of General Staff Fang Fenghui as well and gave a speech at the PLA Defence University before participating in a roundtable with Chinese experts. This initiative was part of the implementation of the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation agreed by both sides at the 2013 EU-China Summit. (Source : European Union External Action).

Fang Fenghui, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army welcoming General de Rousiers in Beijing

On Oct. 10, Fang Fenghui, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army held talks with Patrick de Rousiers, the visiting chairman of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC). Fang recalled Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the EU headquarters in March as injecting new momentum to China-Europe relations. Acknowledging defense and security cooperation between China and the EU, Fang said China is willing to work with the EU to implement the consensus reached between their leaders and strengthen security dialogue and cooperation in personnel training, overseas peace-keeping missions and maritime escort missions. De Rousiers hoped his visit would promote bilateral practical cooperation and lift the defense dialogue to a new level. "The Sino-EU relations have become one of the most influential bilateral relations in the world" said Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan when he met with Gen. de Rousiers in Beijing on Oct.10. (Source: China Military Online)

[5] Operation Atalanta, also known as European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU-NAVFOR-ATALANTA), is a current military operation that is the first undertaken by the European Union Naval Force. It is part of a larger global action by the EU to prevent and combat acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia. It cooperates with the multinational Combined Task Force 151 of the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and NATO's anti-terrorism Operation Ocean Shield. The Operational headquarters is located at Northwood Headquarters in the UK. The mission launched with a focus on protecting Somalia-bound vessels and shipments belonging to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as select other vulnerable shipments. In addition, Operation Atalanta monitors fishing activity on the regional seaboard. In 2012, the scope of the mission expanded to include Somali coastal territories and internal waters so as to co-ordinate counter-piracy operations with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and regional administrations.[3] On 16 July 2012, the EU also mandated the EUCAP Nestor mission to build up the maritime capacity of regional navies.

Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau, EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta Force Commander, meeting the Somaliland delegates in Berbera (December 15, 2013).

According to EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta, Force Commander Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau, “in 2010, 72% of pirate attacks have failed, 81% since August. Those results are due to the combination of EUNAVFOR’s action, the application of new concepts of operations, the use, by the maritime community, of systematic security measures on merchant vessels and high-quality cooperation with other naval forces and independent Navies.”

Under UNSC mandate, EU NAVFOR - Operation Atalanta conducts:

The protection of vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia; the protection of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) shipping;
The deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast;
The protection of vulnerable shipping off the Somali coast on a case by case basis;
In addition, contribute to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
Operation Atalanta is linked to the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), an initiative established by the European Union Naval Force, with close co-operation from industry, in response to threats to shipping in waters off the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa. The MSC-HOA centre provides 24-hour manned monitoring of vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden, whilst the provision of an interactive website enables the Centre to communicate the latest anti-piracy guidance to industry and for Shipping Companies and operators to register their movements through the region. This military operation was launched, in accordance with the EU Council Joint Action 2008/851 and EU Council Decision 2008/918, on 8 December 2008. The operation was in support of Resolutions 1814, 1816 and 1838 which were adopted in 2008 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). To follow were a number of other Resolutions with the most recent being Resolution 1976, adopted by the UNSC on 11 April 2011.

Operation Atalanta was scheduled to last for an initial period of twelve months (until 13 December 2009) and was subsequently extended by the Council of the EU until December 2012. In March 2012, it was announced that the Operation Atalanta initiative would be extended until December 2014. As of January 2011 twenty-three EU and four other countries have participated in Operation Atalanta. Although the United Kingdom hosts the headquarters and has contributed leadership and ships to Atalanta, the permanent British presence in the Persian Gulf (Operation Kipion) means that Royal Navy ships are usually assigned to the more wide-ranging CMF structure such as CTF-151. Around 2,000 military personnel are involved in Atalanta, with the size of the force typically varying between 4-7 surface vessels and 2-3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Funding amounted to €8.4 million for 2010 and €8.05 million for 2011. The agreed budget for 2012 is up to €8.3 million. A budget of €14.9 million is provided for the common costs of the prolonged mandate until December 2014. (Source : Wikipedia).

[6] ALTHEA Operation : The Council of the European Union decided on 12 July 2004 to conduct a military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the framework of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The EUFOR ALTHEA operation was launched on 2 December 2004. This EU-led operation contributes in a significant way to EU's overall reinforced engagement in BiH, while EU´s assistance programmes are helping BiH to make further progress towards the European integration in the context of the Stabilisation and Association Process. pril 2014 - Factsheet on the European Union military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Operation EUFOR Althea).pdf - 227 KBfrançais (fr)

[7] World Food Programme : More than half of WFP’s food is transported by sea during its journey to final destination, making ocean transportation a crucial link in WFP’s supply chain. A reliable provider of cost efficient ocean transport services, WFP transports on average between 2.5 and 3 million metric tonnes – or some 2,600 shipments a year. Working with a specialized and reliable network of shipbrokers and freight forwarders, WFP has on any given day 30 ships at sea, carrying critical humanitarian assistance for distribution in more than 70 countries – moving cargoes from 60 load ports to 75 discharge ports across five continents. When emergency strikes, WFP has the capacity to divert its shipments at short notice to ensure that life-saving food arrives to those who need it - on time. Shipping experts are also deployed when and where needed to augment the capacity of emergency operations. Through its Ocean Transport Service, WFP works directly with EUNAVFOR and ATALANTA to maintain the safety of its vessels upon entry into dangerous waters. Escorting WFP’s charter vessels on a humanitarian basis since 2007, EUNAVFOR has been instrumental in helping WFP to sustain vital deliveries to Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region. (Source : World Food Programme, UN).

[8] See General Patrick de Rousiers's lecture delivered at the Center of Military Schools, Maribor 2 July 2014. Source : EUMC, Brussels.

[9] See European Union External Action website.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).