Friday, January 8, 2010

New French Spy School

Le Monde is reporting that a new school, in fact a "grande ecole," is being created for French intelligence professionals. This is part of ongoing reforms to France's national security structures, stemming from the 2008 White Paper on Defense.

As the article explains (second paragraph, loose translation/paraphrase):
Open to professionals (cadres are professional staff not support staff) this new school will be reserved to six specialized civilian and military services: the Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI--National Directorate for Interior Security) - which reports to the Ministry of the Interior -, the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE--the National Directorate for Exterior Security), the Direction du renseignement militaire (DRM--the Directorate for Military Security) and the Direction de la protection et de la sécurité de la défense (DPSD--Directorate for the protection and security of defense) - which report to the Ministry of Defense -, Tracfin - the Ministry of Finance's anti-laundering cell - and the Direction nationale du renseignement et des enquêtes douanières (DNRED--the National Directorate for customs investigations).
This represents over 11,200 people and the school will provide training and certification that is expected to be required for professional advancement. The creation of the school is also expected to help with mobility between the services, better integration of effort, etc. The challenge of course is that financing is uncertain: as a result, the article reports that certain branches have been excluded. In particular (last paragraph, loose paraphrase/translation again):
1,300 police officers from the under-director for general information, which is part of public security are not eligble. This was created in September 2008 when police intelligence was reformed and it includes a significant part of the personnel from the former General Intelligence service who after being unexpectedly separated from their colleagues chose to join for the National Directorate for Internal Security. In addition, the gendarmes, who are trying to develop their intelligence capacity (often causing friction with the police officers), and who have an antiterrorism liaison office are also excluded.
This creation is complemented by the official formation (just before Christmas) of two National Security Council type structures, both headed by the President: the National Council for Defense and National Security and its more specialized counterpart, the National Council for Intelligence.

So what does this all mean exactly? Well, first that President Sarkozy is creating in France some of the structures that we have here with respect to national security decision making. He's also trying to figure out ways to improve France's intelligence services. There's one thing I'm not sure about though: is it a good idea to exclude the gendarmerie from this, particularly given its increasing role to support police reform in other countries (and the ensuing intelligence collection/analysis requirements that such work entails)?


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