Within the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Security and Defence Cooperation Directorate (DCSD) implements France’s structural cooperation with its partner States in the fields of defence, internal security and civil protection. This structural cooperation is in synergy with the operational cooperation carried out in their respective fields by the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. It aims to step up the human and logistics capacities of the military and security forces of partner countries in the short and medium term.
Its main courses of action are providing expertise, training officers and supporting capacity build-up.
Security and defence cooperation is part of France’s diplomatic action. It is carried out at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs by the Security and Defence Cooperation Directorate (DCSD) and is a key aspect of soft power in France’s sovereign diplomatic policy.
Security and defence cooperation is part of France’s long-term strategy to strengthen the rule of law in partner countries through security system reform (SSR) and crisis prevention.
The DCSD plans, manages and carries out “defence and security” and “security and development” cooperation. It acts both as an interministerial integrator and an agency coordinating a network of cooperation officers abroad, who are seconded to France’s partner States and regional organizations. This work is done in close partnership with all ministries and public agencies working in this area.
Security and defence cooperation is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and fulfils the commitments made in the 2008 and 2013 white papers. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peaceful societies confirms the need for cooperation in the long term to strengthen the security capacities of partners. This, alongside the challenges of feminist diplomacy (building on France’s International Strategy on Gender Equality)) is included in the security and defence cooperation actions carried out by the DCSD.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Security and Defence Cooperation Directorate (DCSD) is part of the Directorate-General for Security and Political Affairs. Under the direction of Lieutenant General Thierry Marchand, this directorate is made up of some 60 central administration employees and 311 cooperation officers from four administrations (Armed Forces, Interior, Economy, Justice) posted in 51 countries and international organizations to establish France’s structural cooperation.
In 2021, the actions implemented through security and defence cooperation are divided into training, expertise and direct logistical assistance.
Cooperation in support of French-speaking countries and non-French-speaking countries is developed through various training programmes, in France and abroad, in regionally-oriented national schools (ENVR) and military and security schools in France.
French language-learning programmes are also offered to foster operational cooperation and contribute to France’s soft power. In partnership with the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), the DCSD promotes the En Avant! learning method for the armed forces (blue helmets and national military academies) for greater integration of partner countries in peacekeeping operations (PKOs).
Audit and counsel: expertise available internationally
Provided at the request of partner countries, auditing and counsel enable temporary or extended appointments of military cooperation officers, gendarmes or police officers to high-level authorities (Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of the Armed Forces, Military Staff, Ministry of the Interior). The aim is to foster the consolidation and structuring of the rule of law.
Logistical assistance: support for capacity building
The DCSD can provide direct assistance through the donations of non-lethal items to partner countries. These donations add to the equipment of the projects implemented:
• Rollout of surveillance capabilities (drones, aerial observation, radar);
• Strengthening of civil and health protection structures (first aid and rescue equipment);
• Equipment in training centres abroad;
• Training, intervention and communication resources of the armed forces and internal security forces (ballistic protection, training apparel, target systems).
To build an influential network, the DCSD created regionally-oriented national schools (ENVR) in the 1990s. Located in Africa, they accommodate African trainees from various administrations (Defence, Justice, Interior, Customs) for training sessions that are designed to foster the sharing of expertise between partners States. They are supported by the DCSD and other national and international stakeholders.
There are 16 ENVRs in 11 countries across Africa. The training sessions on offer address a large range of fields, all related to global security: peacekeeping, health, mine clearance, law and order, engineering and construction, management training, maritime safety, civil protection, state action at sea, combating terrorism, cyber security and judicial police.
An exemplary project: the International Counter-Terrorism Academy (AILCT)
Created in 2018 at the initiative of France and Côte d’Ivoire, the AILCT is a unique ENVR due to its multidisciplinary approach to the fight against terrorism (including military, law enforcement/judicial and academic approaches) which gives it a strong interministerial dimension.
International schools and peacekeeping training centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America also receive support from the DCSD.
In recent years, EU-funded cooperation projects have been implemented with France’s support, including in the context of the 2021 reform of the EU’s external action financial instruments.
This participation in European projects enables greater contribution of French bilateral cooperation to European security and defence policy goals, showcases Team France, and fosters the outreach of French security and defence cooperation, providing leverage for the projects concerned.
Respect for French political orientation, the potential added value of French expertise and its impact on the success of the European project, the complementarity of the European project with other national security and defence cooperation actions are driving factors of France’s participation in these projects.
There are currently several ways in which France is involved:
• Managing projects as a recipient of funds allocated by the European Union,
• Participation in the management of projects in partnership with a development agency (French or European) that are themselves recipients of European funds,
• Temporary support for European projects spearheaded by state agencies.
• These projects are carried out in various regions (sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia) and in various specialized fields (maritime security, air forces, civil protection, mine clearance, etc.), thereby capitalizing on the wealth of the national network of DCSD cooperation officers.
Regional and international organizations
The DCSD also aims to align its action within a multilateral framework by developing synergies with international and regional organizations, in accordance with French priorities.
In this way, partnerships with the United Nations (such as training contingents to be deployed for peacekeeping operations), with the International Organisation of the Francophonie and the G5 Sahel have been implemented. This cooperation, beyond the synergies they enable on shared objectives, is a clear sign of French political support for multilateralism.
The organization of international sessions with the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN)
In a multi-year partnership with the IHEDN, the DCSD organizes and finances three international sessions every year at the École Militaire in Paris, each of which focus on a different priority geostrategic zone: Africa with the International Forum on the African Continent (FICA), the Indo-Pacific region, the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, the Balkans and Latin America. Foreign participants are high-level officials (administration, security structures, NGOs, academic environments) of guest countries. These international sessions are a form of soft diplomacy. Their aim is to present participants with the challenges of security and defence from a French perspective.
Security and defence cooperation takes place abroad depending on French and European strategic priorities.
Given its expertise in the security/defence and security/development continuums, the DCSD is part of a large interministerial ecosystem (Armed Forces, Interior, Economy and Justice Ministries).
This means that through innovative partnerships, in the deployment of projects, it can coordinate the action of public and private partner agencies (Agence Française de Développement, Expertise France, Campus France, CIVIPOL, etc.) and international players (the European Union, the African Union, the G5 Sahel, the UN, etc.).
As a soft diplomacy tool, security and defence cooperation now takes into account new parameters in order to align its action and showcase it at the European and international level:
• The reorientation of France’s diplomatic and strategic priorities towards new global regions;
• The emergence of new security threats or challenges (cyber crime, civil protection, health and ecological risks);
• The increase in the number of security stakeholders, including the European Union, which develops our cooperation and makes it multilateral and coordinated;
• The launch of new regionally-oriented national schools (ENVR): the reopening of the Ecole Militaire d’Administration (EMA) de Bamako in Libreville (Gabon) and the opening of a school for integrated border management in Niamey (Niger).
Last update: November 2021