Hubert Védrine’s observation is clear: “what we are experiencing is shattering many European visions and illusions”. He evokes a “huge shock”which caused the awakening of “the spirit of defense” in the European sphere, like the special fund of 100 billion euros for the German army, or the lifting of the opt-out (option of withdrawal) from Denmark to return to the bosom of defense European. “Europeans are re-landing in the real world”he assures.
New concepts in the military approach
A wake-up call which should not, however, obscure the obstacles and reluctance that the concept of European defense has come up against in recent decades, and its place vis-à-vis NATO and in particular the United States. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs warns: now is the time to analyze the fundamental obstacles to moving forward.
On the military side, it is necessary “to measure the consequences on the way of waging war”, says General Autellet. Priority is given to new fields of conflict (cyber, spatial, informational, etc.), with new concepts and new doctrines. A new approach declined by the Chief of the Defense Staff, who presented in October 2021 the roadmap of the French army, entitled “winning the war before the war”. Occupy new fields of conflict before physical engagements, “and if we have to go, be ready to go”explains General Autellet.
Digital, a crucial issue
“The conventional domain is still just as important, but it is augmented and made even more efficient by digital”, exposes Michael Schoellhorn. The boss of Airbus Defense & Space is joined in his remarks by the CEO of Thales. According to Patrice Caine, “digital is already gone”but it is necessary to plan “the shot after the shot after”, namely the quantum, to multiply the computing capacities. For General Autellet, we must shoot “All the possibilities” of the digital world, which has become a priority for the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
For Patrick Caine“the awareness is there. What it will lead to, we don’t know yet. From an industrial point of view, there is almost no impact in the very short term. […] The challenge is rather on the medium/long term impact. I want to believe that this will lead to a gradual and continuous increase in defense budgets.” General Autellet evokes a “paradigm shift” while Hubert Védrine calls for “to act at all levels, so that Europeans become more realistic, less pretentious, no less ambitious and no less demanding”.