France back to the NATO structure: the cultural shock.

When French President Sarkozy decided to have France back within the NATO structure, many, at least in France, spoke about the French renouncement to its cherished independence and declared that France had sold its sold to the USA. The purpose of this post will not be to look again to this recent past, but to write down some comments on a very interesting article, titled “France in the NATO. The French Military Culture and the Strategic Identity in Question” and written by Anne-Henry de Russé.

Sorry, but it is written in French language. Nevertheless, I hope that this post will give you a good insight of this paper.

In the very first pages, the author already states that, being apart from the military structure more than 40 years long, the French military has developed a peculiar culture, characterized by a form of independent way of thinking and operating, which could be put at stake.

From his point of view, combined operations make converge the different national culture, much more the membership in an alliance. To support his statement, Mr de Russé refers to the expeditionary culture of France versus the Clausewitz influence in the US culture. French officer, he seems to strongly favour the French military culture, in which autonomy and polyvalence of the soldier are cultivated at the highest level.

The author stresses as well the danger of a strong NATO culture, which could encourage a decrease in the defence budgets.

A little bit further he thinks that the presence of a French general at the head of Supreme Allied Command Transformation would help for broadcasting the French concepts. Vice versa, the French people would acquire in NATO a planning culture as a complement to their conduct of operations natural inclination.

P. 28, Mr de Russé promotes what he defines as the French indirect approach against the direct approach, main feature of NATO culture. At one moment, as well, he wonders whether the orientation to a stronger interoperability will have an influence on French defence industry.

Really, this article is worth being read quietly, because he leads us to check again our impressions on NATO, and it conveys a good idea on the thoughts of a French officer who could be summoned up to an assignment in the NATO command structure, even it does not really fit with NATO countries way of doing business, in which nations are doing as if they always were compliant with NATO standardization agreements, while doing, anyway their own business.

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