Why the defense industry needs to open up to today’s world (4/4)

The defense industry and technology base (BITD) is a set of layers that connect industrial actors and laboratories of various sizes, with overlapping and sometimes diverging interests. Major Tier 1 industry players must now think of themselves as partners, suppliers and subcontractors. The war economy requires the integration of all actors involved in the value chain and requires the externalization and pedagogic efforts of large groups with their ecosystems. [Préconisation n°22]. This requires communication and openness with a demanding civil society.

Opening a silent industry

as an answer satisfied Appreciating our ability to export the Minister of Armed Forces, young Youtuber Simon Puech said, “ we informed the French about killing the national flag as he points out in a video about the arms industry. Anecdotally aside, this position reflects a deeper drive than a simple slogan of an influence campaign. According to Amnesty International, “ 83% of the French think there is a lack of transparency in France’s arms trade “and” 75% of the French think that the arms trade in France should be a matter of public debate “. To avoid this criticism under the pretense that the world is complicated, or to limit it to an ideological and misguided debate, to discredit its detractors, is to fail to teach about the arms trade and therefore to render any attempt at improvement obsolete.

For a very long time, our BITD and the Ministry of Defense have been implementing the strategy “live happily ever after” It is a direct result of banks worrying about it in recent years “dirty work” (Alexandre Papaemmanuel and Yann Wendel, Can you overcome the prejudices of the financial sector about “dirty” business? Necessary support to the defense industry », HetairieMarch 1, 2018), forcing the state to intervene to remind them of its role in supporting the economy.

To this end, the format of the report detailing French arms exports has been reworked to respond more clearly and legibly to civil society’s expectations regarding arms export control. The inclusion of an annual report drawn up under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) demonstrates a desire for transparency, as does the publication of statistics on the denial of export licenses to French manufacturers under the Common Position’s eight criteria. of the European Union.

At the same time, the information report “Arms export control, contribution to European defense” Deputies Jacques Maire (whose mandate is already closed) and Michel Tabarot (who is still a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations) marked a new stage in this process. glasnost. It made some thirty recommendations, including the creation of a parliamentary delegation to implement control of arms sales. a posteriori on arms exports.

Focus on the defense industry

Civil society captures BITD subjects, despite undergoing real changes to become multi-household and multi-sectoral by modernizing (a little), exporting (a lot), diversifying (moderately) without opening citizens, workers, universities. and so on. In fact, its only deep or radical transformation was in the conquest of markets beyond our borders. defense companies must be able to grow in order for weapons programs to be carried out (Romain Mielcarek, Arms traffickers: Investigation a Business French languageParis, Tallandier, 2017). Even if the ultimate goal is to support the armed forces with equipment that meets the triple demands of cost, deadlines and operational performance, before making a profit or gaining market share..

If the creation of a Defense Factory and national centers of academic excellence in defense issues in the humanities and social sciences is an appropriate start, it agrees to continue and accelerate the dynamics of arms trade promotion and education aimed at the media, the general public and, in particular, the academic world. [Préconisation n°23]. This consensus is essential for a sustainable technological breakthrough economy. But the (re)localization of manufacturing activities within the national territory implies that the French accept the establishment of new industries in their neighbourhood. Recent civic mobilizations offer a necessary pedagogy in the service of social acceptance.

Like BITD’s work, the strategic technologies of today and tomorrow carry major societal challenges, as they contribute to both healthy and sustainable food, the energy transition (hydrogen, industrial decarbonization) or digital sovereignty (quantum technologies, storage infrastructures). and the protection and security of our privacy online) and therefore requires A readable and comprehensive policy serves to satisfy citizens [Préconisation n°23 bis].

Towards a diversity of profiles

Faced with this negative image of BITD, the latter will benefit from diversifying its profile to benefit from a resource capable of understanding increasingly complex issues by involving Grandes Ecoles and universities. BITD needs to be at the forefront of many cross-cutting issues such as inclusion and diversity [Préconisation n°24]. Struggle for plurality is a means to avoid sterile endogamy and encourage rich perspective and creativity. While a certain bias can be attributed to the accreditation process within BITD, diversity should not be discounted. “An invaluable asset for better understanding customers”it is a way of being in the world, in addition to a growth vector.

Ultimately, this industry must not only integrate into the world around it, but also well and truly integrate that world around itself by diversifying recruitment, schools and environments. New profiles, new methods and cultures can bring an innovative perspective in managing projects and teams, as well as having the skills to communicate with civil society. BITD is an actor with a strong social responsibility, which, more than any other sector, can leverage rare influences, especially on diversity and inclusion. This openness would be the guarantee of a company in the image of society, but also the guarantee of greater social responsibility.

Conclusion: Face it with confidence!

Recovery plan “This allows us to accelerate the ecological, industrial and social transformations of the country” as a plan France 2030, equipped with 34 billion euros deployed over five years, should constitute two opportunities to be taken over by the BITD. Thus, the state can combine skills and valuable industrial opinions with the will of the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) to serve France’s technological expectations.

If the defense industry is to be a model to guide the long-term restructuring of our strategic sectors, the defense budget remains. “a Janus” two economic figures whose impact on the real economy is difficult to analyze in detail. The equipment budget of the Ministry of Armed Forces is certainly unmatched at the national level (2nd public expenditure after national education) and public orders from BITD have never been greater. golden foam “defense” echoes the fear of a world in crisis that could affect production lines.

“Afterworld” begins with the same reflexes as before, a pinch of corporatism touching on economic intervention in the purest Colbertist tradition, making public procurement a profit to be seized (“Security industry complaints in Bercy to bounce back from health crisis”, La Lettre A, edition of May 19, 2020) and must be maintained in a conquering logic. gold, “war economy” it compels us collectively.

Imagine multi-sector requirements away from proprietary logic, projects that go beyond partisan competition and require a simpler operating environment, because as the Chief of Defense Staff (CEMA) noted in his National Assembly hearings: ” Our work routine has become very complicated. The accumulation of numerous standards and directives prevents us from operating in a flexible and reactive manner. We need to restore some form of flexibility in service operations, such as an operational contingency procedure that allows for quick access to certain missing equipment. Therefore it is possible. Rather than explaining why things should not be done, the thinking of finding a solution should be a little more widespread.from “.

Mentalities must develop on two axes:

  • Innovation is above all cultural and must resist the comforting reflexes of general risk control. The performance of the DGA cannot be evaluated based on the administrative appeals won or the strict implementation of its budget. The Ministry of Armed Forces should create conditions for young innovative entrepreneurs to become successful entrepreneurs. Today, the path the Defense Innovation Agency (AID) is paving to escort them away from cultural nastiness and regulatory challenges must become a highway.
  • The state must take its place as a key, political driver (identification of threats, budgetary framework, political cooperation) and suppliers must exceed their expectations with entrepreneurial DNA.

It is really important to rethink the framework, free ourselves from the shackles, live the legacy and not be subject to our self-imposed limitations. With the risk of the market imposing a fundamental move, it becomes urgent to reconsider the BITD. BITD is the result of a legacy that should not hesitate to act for the benefit of the legacy at the risk of wandering around a prison hexagon, a limited world where we will be the first prison warden. But as The Prisoner reminds us in the series of the same name, “ Time counts. It is impossible to please everyone. To save the world, you have to upset a lot of people (The Prisoner, English TV series, 1967).


Read or reread all three The first parts of this series by Alexandre Papaemmanuel:

The war economy: how the defense industry should be “civilized”

Who will be the next French Elon Musk who can provide vital aid to the armies?

The war economy: How to proactively reform the French defense industry


List of Recommendations (Externalize BITD)

Recommendation #22: A war economy requires the integration of all players involved in the value chain, and requires large-scale outreach and education efforts with their ecosystems.

Recommendation #23: Monitor and accelerate the dynamics of arms trade advocacy and awareness targeting the media, the general public, and especially the academic world.

Recommendation n°23 bis : Develop a readable and comprehensive policy in service of the approval of the civilian defense industry.

Recommendation #24: BITD needs to be at the forefront of many cross-cutting issues such as inclusion and diversity, particularly through recruitment.