Center for Strategic Decision Research


A Broader Concept of Security for the 21st Century

Mr. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
Director of Strategic Affairs, French Ministry of Defense

Director for Strategic Affairs Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
"...risks and threats...derive largely from accelerated transformation and modernization of societies. These processes bring remarkable benefits regarding economic growth as well as improve social conditions within an increasingly interdependent global economy. However, they also create considerable tension within and among societies."

I would like to use as my starting point the issue that Minister Struck highlighted—the global nature of present and future security issues, their multiple dimensions, and the need for broad cooperation among nations to deal with them. 


An analysis of our security problems, the risks and threats, suggests that they derive largely from accelerated transformation and the modernization of societies. These processes bring remarkable benefits regarding economic growth as well as improve social conditions within an increasingly interdependent global economy. However, they also create considerable tension within and among societies. These tensions, both domestic and international, are likely to intensify in the coming decades because interrelationships are strong and growing. 

Any vision of security, therefore, must start from an understanding of the dynamics of social change within every society, in all its complexity. The first step is to carefully assess the situation in each case and try to see where the forces at work are leading. 

For instance, in the field of nonproliferation, states are motivated by a variety of cultural, social, and political factors: the needs of regimes to assert themselves at home, regional ambitions, defending against perceived external pressure, and self-esteem. 


A continuing analysis of the dynamics of societies raises the question of how the community of advanced nations can encourage, facilitate, and reward evolutions that allow the orderly and peaceful transformation of each society, according to its own dynamics, toward a situation that meshes with the universal values that all societies seek: human rights, economic development, health, education, and participation in government. Incorporating these values is basically the responsibility of each society; outside involvement can result in shock and rejection, and direct interference is traumatic. Yet because of self-interests and the need for collective solidarity, live and let live is not an option. 

Determining which sort of strategy the more advanced nations should use regarding the Near and Middle East is now on the table. The U.S., after supporting the status quo for years, has shifted to a strategy of actively transforming the societies in the region. It is now dedicating to this ambitious endeavor considerable political attention, resources, and manpower, but it is encountering serious reservations and even hostility. Paradoxically the U.S. is using a UN document written by Arabs to argue in favor of the need for change and reform. 

The extreme difficulties experienced so far show how unpredictable a strategy of active transformation can be. The modernization process in this region needs time, as well as broad support and acceptance by a large majority, to make its effects felt. 

The EU is following its own slower strategy in the region and does not have the same type of commitment. It is emphasizing development assistance and political and cultural cooperation in a broad dialogue—the Barcelona process. But ultimately only cooperation between the EU and the U.S. to define and implement strategies and their cooperation in the field of global governance incorporating the UN and other multilateral tools can make sponsoring orderly change viable. Until that happens, there are going to be many sources of instability as well as a large demand for the main tool of preventive and curative action, because it is the only tool available. 


Military forces are clearly the principal response component of states that are willing to act; they are the most effective tool available on short notice to support nation building. They are also likely to be in high demand, but they will need to be complemented and used wisely because of their cost. This will be particularly true for European countries, which for societal and cultural reasons are less willing to bear the burden of high-intensity military action. These countries will be content to let the United States deal with the brief periods of high-intensity warfare, which have occurred once every four years in the recent past. Only a few Europeans will be capable of and willing to work with the U.S. in theater crises. 

Indeed the trend is already visible: European countries are now acting in coalition, within NATO or the EU, or are greatly involved independently in stabilization operations around the world. These countries are currently deploying almost 70,000 troops on far-flung missions: 14 percent of the United Kingdom’s ground forces and 5 percent of Poland’s and Portugal’s. The transformation of all of Europe’s ground forces will increase the absolute number and relative ratio of forces that can be projected and provide them with the equipment appropriate to the situation. 

Three requirements derive from the current trends regarding forces needed by European countries, bearing in mind that an unpredictable security environment requires flexibility and responsiveness. 


Because stabilization and prevention require boots on the ground, sheer numbers will continue to matter. The transformation process will lead to a larger number of available troops because of professionalization and training. 

European nations should aim at being able to continuously deploy 125,000 troops, 15 percent of their ground forces. This will come at significant cost because some of these forces will need to be at high readiness and be projectable, requiring expensive support (U.S. personnel costs have grown by 17 percent in 7 years). Today’s missions are not low tech, and controlling space and violence requires sophisticated equipment. 


Performing complex stabilization duties will require a good understanding of local situations as well as continuous monitoring; both are needed in order to effectively combat the formidable capabilities available to the forces of disruption and destruction. Terrorist modes of actions can be prevented only through relentless human and technological search operations and, when necessary, destroy operations. Good intelligence capabilities will be particularly crucial for those Europeans who are close to areas of discord and whose societies are vulnerable. The civilian-military dimension is also essential to support the processes of stabilization and nation building. 


It is clear that we must work cooperatively in various frameworks— interoperability affects not only communication but many other dimensions, including structures, training and exercises, and being able to work together. We must prepare in advance a number of key interfaces between different kinds of forces. 

The U.S. is in a class by itself when it comes to using information technology and creating sophisticated Network Centric Warfare capabilities. These fast-evolving new capabilities are very elaborate but not always accessible to others, nor are they always relevant to the concrete needs of a given theater. The U.S., therefore, must build into its new information systems usable interfaces that allow partners and allies to plug in easily. 

Europeans must work hard to become interoperable among themselves. NATO is the tool for making this happen, although it has not proved fully effective in the past. Europeans also must learn to combine the civilian and military tools at their disposal to pursue stabilization and nation building. And both Americans and Europeans must learn to work with other countries that are likely to provide a significant part of the manpower involved in stabilization. Non-U.S., non-EU countries have provided the 70,000 troops now deployed by the UN throughout Africa. Structures and interfaces will need to be designed to work with them. 


In summary, for Europe to assist in the orderly transformation of societies so that long-term global security can be insured, we will need the effective support of substantial military forces to promote stability and nation building. While this work is already well advanced, it needs continuous and constant dedicated effort. 


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