Chariwoman of the National Defense and Armed Forces Committee, MP for Finistère
"Prepare for War, Conduct Operations, Achieve Peace."
The theme selected for this 14th edition of the Summer Defence Conference will come to the surprise of no one. This theme implies a global approach that underpins the interventions of the armed forces in resolving crises. These crises are increasing in number and complexity against a backdrop of a general deterioration of security on the borders of the European Union, and in the Middle and Far East, not to mention the Sahel-Saharan strip. Too often we have thought that war is a thing of the past. Today, for many French and European citizens, it has become a new reality.
The challenge is therefore immense. And, in light of this challenge, all of us who belong to the Defence community must more closely examine the overall implications of today's conflicts and how they can be resolved. This is what Chairman Jean-Pierre Raffarin and I have been striving to do throughout the year. The Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Militaire seemed to us to be a perfect venue for our joint discussions.
Former Prime Minister
Chairman of the foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the Senate, Senator for Vienne
In light of the terrorist attacks of 7 January and last 13 November, the choice of Paris for the 14th edition of the Summer Defence Conference is highly symbolic.
This year, our Summer Defence Conference will focus on an overall approach: "Prepare for War, Conduct Operations, Achieve Peace".
This comprehensive approach consists of, on the one hand, foreign and homeland operations, which run in parallel to each other today on both sides of national borders as a logical, natural consequence of the militarisation of terrorist organisations, which take root outside of our borders but attack us from within.
On the other hand, this overall approach combines military, diplomatic and crisis prevention actions in the form of aid for development, as preparing for war and winning battles no longer suffice without a political solution and stabilisation sustained over the long term.
Of course, specific attention will be paid not only to the fight against terrorism in the Sahel but also to the strategic situation of the Mediterranean, which is marked by the chaos in Libya and the migration crisis. Strategic studies conducted in the United Kingdom and Germany, and also under the aegis of the European Union, will be used to prepare the upcoming French White Paper: in light of the severity of the threat, an increase in the capabilities of all of our defence structures is now crucial.
I trust that the open, direct discussions - which have been the cornerstone of these Conferences since the earliest days - will provide answers to feed all of our thought processes.
I look forward to seeing you soon in Paris!
Général Pierre de VILLIERS
French Chief of Staff
This new edition of the Summer Defence Conference will take place in a singular context: first, terrorism, which has become the principal threat, and, second, an increasing number of demonstrations of power by states that have global and regional capacities.
The theme therefore chosen for this 14th edition is a "global approach".
The armed forces use their legitimate power to overcome violence, but a strategy based on military impacts alone will never treat the roots of the violence, as these roots are embedded in a lack of hope, education, justice, development, governance and consideration. Military action is only one part of the response to a crisis. It is effective, but not sufficient. To win a war no longer means achieving peace: an ideology cannot be destroyed with bombs alone. This is why a global approach is an essential concept to manage crises.
I thank the Ecole Polytechnique, which shapes the minds and souls of our brilliant youth, for welcoming us. The discussions that will take place here between members of parliament, academics, the business world and the armed forces are intended to contribute to a dynamic spirit of defence, and therefore the success of France's armed forces.