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Relevance of the divisional system from Bourcet

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History & strategy
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The divisional system gradually came into being in the 18th century, as a result of the need to adapt the conduct of warfare to the new strategic ambitions and logistical problems of the many armies of the time. The division of the army into autonomous divisional elementary bricks really transformed the manoeuvre.

While the "In Touch" model reintroduces the divisional level, but the number of personnel is out of all proportion to that of past major conflicts, the authors of this article note that the basis of the division is still the IATF. This tier may only partially follow the principles at the origin of the divisional system.

While division had been abandoned by the French Army in 1999, the "Au contact!" model restores this echelon in order to restore overall coherence to the command structure. This choice may seem surprising. Indeed, with financial resources being very limited and the format of the armies seeming to be stabilised in the medium term, the creation of an army with a new command structure may seem surprising.The creation of an echelon intended in the past to command masses of manoeuvres far greater than we know raises the question of its real usefulness.

In order to provide elements of understanding, it is interesting to go back to the origin of divisions: the creation of a divisional system. This divisional system consists in splitting the army into several autonomous joint modules, capable of conducting operations alone, but permanently supported by other elements located at a sufficient distance to support in a time inferior to the resistance capabilities of one of these modules. From the Napoleonic army corps to the current joint battle group (GTIA), the only adaptation of the principle has been to define this basic brick, its constitution and its "resistance" time.

More than the analysis of the relevance of creating a tactical level of command higher than the brigades, it is the analysis of the relevance of the divisional system that will be the subject of this study. In other words, the question that arises is that of the relevance of splitting the troops, particularly in view of France's contemporary commitments in theatres of external operations.

The divisional system in the sense of splitting troops into operations retains all its theoretical relevance despite its imperfect application. It must be applied at levels other than that of the army corps which is at the origin of the divisional system.

From its inception, the divisional system was adopted in response to difficulties in the conduct of warfare. As a solution to logistical problems as well as to those of command in the 18th century, the division of the army is a principle that has not been called into question. We shall see later on that nowadays, the emergence of conflicts in which only brigades are engaged leads to an evolution of the concept of the divisional system. The division of the army no longer takes place on the scale of a division of about 40,000 men, but of a brigade of 4,000 men, or even on the scale of the GTIA, the foundations of the divisional system are partially weakened.


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The divisional system: consequence and origin of a change in the art of warfare...

The divisional system that emerged in the 18th century was the result of several different factors that required a major adaptation of the way an army was run. The modification of war objectives, the considerable increase in the size of armies and the resulting logistical problems made it necessary to introduce a division of troops.

  • The art of warfare in the 18th century: the development of new military thinking

The emergence of the divisional system did not happen in a single movement. It was the consequence both of logistical necessities and of the evolution of military thought in the 18th century. This century was marked by two types of thinking: how to overcome the tactical blockage of the thin order and how to make an army manoeuvrable on a large scale.

Although the debate on the limits of the thin order did not lead to the adoption of the divisional system, it was nevertheless the source of intense reflection which initiated a draft for the division of armies.

The tactical blockage was mainly due to the thin order, and was mainly due to the firepower of the new weapons of the time. In 1745, the Battle of Fontenoy marked the advent of firepower on the battlefield. While the cavalry, particularly the French, had reigned supreme since the victory over the Spanish tercios at Rocroi in 1643, the role of powder weapons fixed for a time the art of warfare of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The art of warfare at the beginning of the 18th century and the tactical blockade were definitively sealed with the adoption of formations allowing continuous fire. During the preparation of a possible war (camp of Douzy, 1727, Meuse, Bombelles) against Charles VI, the organization of camps [1] in 1727 allowed the army to he setting up of the war in the spring allowed the army to train during the summer and autumn, and the Count of Belle-Isle to experiment some original manoeuvres. During an exercise to defend the village of Mairy, a formation of four lines firing successively and continuously was experimented by Henri-François, Count of Bombelles, and led to a large victory [2].

In short, the arrival of the musket on the battlefield and its successive improvements (lightening and rate of fire) made the traditional arrangement of troops in a square less effective. In order to provide the enemy with continuous fire, the ranks were reduced from 16 to 3 in favour of lines allowing the last ranks to fire and benefit from the power of these weapons. This thin order nevertheless transforms conflicts into a war of attrition. Indeed, as the Marshal of Saxony points out in his "...".Reveries"the armies no longer have the shock force to break the lines. Moreover, as the lines easily lose their cohesion, the only orderly movement that can be envisaged is forward marching. The fighting of Frederick II in Silesia is a perfect illustration of this tactical blockage. The two armies having formed in classic parallel lines (infantry in the center, cavalry on the wings), the doctrine of firepower encourages the Prussians to advance slowly and wait for the enemy to eventually lose cohesion or morale. Attrition due to such tactics is low, but exploitation is impossible, the winner coming out too disorganized.

In order to respond to the limits of the thin order, intense theoretical reflection is seeking a solution to regain a shock force, to resist enemy shock and to maintain a command at sight impossible in the presence of lines of soldiers. Thus, the Chevalier de Folard advocated the creation of deep columns to regain impact strength. The Marshal of Saxony will strongly criticize the idea that columns would give sufficient force by a simple physical principle, this one being only valid for three rows capable of supporting themselves, the rest of the column losing its effect because of the space between the soldiers. On the other hand, he developed the idea of forming columns operating in waves of three ranks, thus making it possible to concentrate efforts at a single point, facilitate maneuvering and obtain a strong psychological effect on the enemy.

The Duke de Broglie was inspired by these columns, but made them independent in order to simplify orders and speed up movement to take an order of battle. As the Marshal of Saxony will confirm, "The main purpose of the divisions is to simplify the orders of march and to facilitate ... the movements by which the army can take an order of battle" [3].

The premises of the divisional system were laid down. If the idea of division did not come from attempts to overcome the limitations of the thin order, the articulation in independent columns would lay the foundation. It should be noted, however, that in these reflections, the army is always considered as a whole, the modules should only serve to facilitate the order of battle, like the armies of Frederick II.

The "modern" divisional system will come from Lieutenant-General Pierre Joseph de Bourcet, who advocated splitting the army into elements that make up a whole. Drawing on his experience of combat in the mountains and on the limits of deployment imposed by this environment, he imagined modules that could operate separately from each other while remaining permanently linked, but also cooperate in the conquest of a common objective. Thus, it is no longer a question of acting on a single battlefield, but in several places at the same time, the condition to be respected being that each element could be supported by the others in a limited time.

  • The divisional system, a tactical response to the political evolution of warfare, or the shift from movement to manoeuvre

The consensus on the conduct of the war at the beginning of the 18th century, dictated both by the political situation and by the evolution of firepower on the battlefield, strongly marked the conduct of the war. It had moderate ambitions and was therefore limited to territorial objectives. The enemy's right to exist was recognized, as his annihilation was not an objective of the various campaigns. Moreover, conflicts are fought by mutual consent, without civilians. This results in border battles, marked by battles of attrition around strongholds that are difficult to knock down.

The end of the 18th century saw the emergence of a totally different conception of warfare. The latter, to satisfy the hegemonic impulses that were emerging in Europe, was clearly inscribed in a political purpose whose ends were almost absolute. Thus, the military goals became unrestricted and were no longer aimed at small territorial gains, but at a real annihilation of the opposing armed forces, in particular through the search for decisive victory. The strong idea of the years 1743-1758 is that the decisive battle is the main instrument of strategy. Frederick II put it this way: "Battles decide the fate of states. When we wage war, we must come to decisive moments, either to get out of trouble, or to put your enemy in it, or to end quarrels that would never end" [4].

The format of armies at the beginning of the 18th century did not correspond to this strategic ambition. The progress of theoretical thinking and the birth of the divisional system made it possible to envisage another way of conducting campaigns. It is a kind of shift from movement to maneuver. Indeed, battles used to consist of moving to favourable positions, deployment in order of battle, and then combat. While greater fluidity and adaptability were constantly sought in order to surprise the enemy, large-scale action on a national scale was not envisaged. The creation of the division made it possible to think upstream from the battlefield. The movement of the army in autonomous columns introduced a real manoeuvring capacity that made it possible to define objectives well beyond a sequence of movement - deployment - confrontation.

However, it was not until Napoleon and the creation of the corps that the idea of pursuit was again envisaged. Thanks to this new echelon, it could respond to two major imperatives: the ability to concentrate on one point to conduct the decisive battle and the conservation of a sufficient autonomous force, capable of containing a second army coalition for one day [5]. Used in 1800, it became the basis of the Napoleonic system in 1803. Each army corps includes a staff, two or three infantry divisions with their artillery, a division or brigade of light cavalry and train. It is therefore a real army in reduction which brings together the three weapons and allows greater autonomy and independence than for "monolithic" armies.

Responding to the evolution of the objectives of war in Europe in the 18th century, the divisional system developed until the creation of the army corps. It made it possible to gain a real ability to manoeuvre over large areas by the possibility of covering a large area and to have troops available at any point capable of carrying out isolated joint action while awaiting support from the rest of the army, while maintaining a capacity for concentration at the points identified as decisive.

  • The divisional system, a logistical response to the transformation of armies, or the evolution of the conduct of warfare

The relevance of the divisional system can be assessed by the strategic evolution of the war, but also by its effects on logistics.

As we have seen previously, the war in the 17th and early 18th centuries was a border war with limited territorial objectives, and was mainly based on the taking of fortresses. The Marshal of Saxony saw there the origin of the transformation of the format of the armies. Indeed, the siege war required an increase in the number of infantrymen, and led to the development of a national infantry, similar to that existing in Spain or Sweden. Thus, Gustav II Adolph had built up a national troop of remarkable homogeneity, driven by patriotism and Lutheran fervor.

France will follow the same movement: the arrival of Louis XIV to power reinforces the creation of a modern French army. Men like Louvois, Le Tellier, Vauban, Turenne, Condé and Colbert created and commanded a formidable war machine. The reign of Louis XIV will see an exponential growth of the army: whereas the regular army counts between 40.000 and 70.000 men after the dismissals following the Treaty of the Pyrenees, this figure will rise to 120,000 men in 1672 and up to 200,000 men in 1680, that is to say a multiplication by five of the workforce between 1660 and 1680 [6]. During the war of the Augsburg League, the royal army will count 350,000 men.

The struggle for survival implied by the new way of conducting warfare in the 18th century will contribute to increasing the number of soldiers.

This change in the format of the armies and the deployment in lines of three ranks will create major logistical and deployment problems. Indeed, the volume of soldiers on the move creates road congestion that is unfavourable to rapid and efficient deployment. The transition from a movement formation to a combat formation becomes excessively difficult, which is not unrelated to the tactical blockage of the time. The transition from column march formations to line combat formations was so slow and complex that it prohibited any surprise effect and subordinated the battle to the agreement of the belligerents [7]. One of the factors explaining Frederick's success is indeed his ability to move from a moving device to the order of battle, and then in that order of battle from a thin to a deep order without disorganization. The War of the Austrian Succession will perfectly illustrate this progress.

The establishment of the divisional system and its subsequent improvement by Napoleon made it possible to solve the logistical problem of the march to the enemy by allowing progress on several well-differentiated axes. The second Italian campaign, and in particular the crossing of the Alps, illustrated the advantages of the divisional system.


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The divisional system, whose emergence has been gradual both through the evolution of theory and expedition...The divisional system, which emerged gradually both through the evolution of theory and battlefield experience, proved to be the only relevant solution to the challenges posed by the evolution of warfare in the 18th century. standards of soldiers, the lack of a capacity for "operative" exploitation of tactical victories and difficulties in coordinating the various weapons.

Thus, the divisional system has the following advantages:

  • The ability to manoeuvre on a theatre-wide scale to exploit any tactical victory (manoeuvring on the rear, fighting in a central position);
  • Ability to concentrate a large volume of force easily and quickly at a single point thanks to several well-differentiated axes of advance;
  • Ability to easily and quickly concentrate a large volume of force at a single point thanks to several well-differentiated axes of advance; Minimum resistance capability of a detachment by possessing the full range of joint capabilities in each module;
  • Ability of each detachment to support its neighbours;
  • Facilitated visual command capability and enhanced subsidiarity.


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The divisional system: evolutionary concept or obsolete concept?

Since Bourcet and Guibert, the geopolitical situation has evolved, as have the size and armament of armies. Faced with the reduction in the number of soldiers and the increase in the range of weapons, the divisional principle needs to be adapted. That is why we will explain what today's division is. This will highlight the differences with the divisional system of the past, which, while maintaining the same principles, is envisaged on a different scale in the context of current commitments. In particular, we will analyse the extent to which the IATF would have become the building block of the divisional system.

  • The French division in the 21st century: maneuver pawn or army alone?

Over the last 40 years, the Army has seen a pendulum swing in the adoption of the divisional echelon. Among the major lessons of the French operations from 1978 to 1991 [8], it is underlined that the organization of the time is still "vertical (army, corps, division and regiment) and is largely based on the divisional system". On the other hand, the appearance of operations between 1991 and 2015 and the professionalization of 1995 (which began the contraction of the workforce) led to the abandonment of the divisional system in favour of a return to the brigades. In 2016, the disappearance of the force headquarters (EMF) and the return to a more vertical organisation signalled the return of division.

In doctrine, the "generic" division is a large joint unit capable of carrying out simultaneous actions of different types, in contact, in depth, on the rear or throughout its area of responsibility in the case of the stabilization phase [9]. 9] While the division has not fundamentally changed, its constitution is now specific to each engagement (force generation process), regardless of the type of force deployed: "classic" division or division forming Land Component Command (LCC). Less than its size, what characterises it today is its capacity to be the first echelon capable ofcarrying out almost all operational functions (the brigade does not, for example, have all the fire support). In this sense, the return of the "Au contact" division is a return to the principle of autonomy of the Bourcet division.

The divisional principle thus remains closely linked to Guibert's statement. It is a guiding concept of the organisation of the forces based initially on a few major notions which have been constants since the 18th century and the creation of the divisional system, since it includes the Maurice de Saxe inter-service combination (which has however become much more complex, as it is nowadays).e by passing from the infantry-cavalry-artillery triptych to a combat to which the 3rd dimension and the concept of air-land maneuver were added in particular) and the logistic autonomy of Bourcet (the division is the first level of logistic design while the brigade carries out monitoring and execution).

A special case for the application of these principles is the fact that the organic division is not autonomous in metropolitan France since the Army's light aviation reinforcements (ALAT) and its logistical autonomy only belong to it in operations.

On the other hand, these constants should be put into perspective with major changes in today's doctrine. Indeed, the division can now be engaged in a multinational framework. It is no longer a question of fragmenting a large unit to make it more manoeuvrable as in the 18th century, but of aggregating "small" units to form a large one. The command post (CP) division will then be required to conduct the operations of a conventional NATO-class division within an army corps (RRC-FR, European corps or ad hoc coalition) or a division representing the LCC level on the orders of a higher level.

Whereas it was the basic fraction of a national army in past conflicts, the French division is now designed to manoeuvre within a multinational army, but above all is potentially an army in its own right with ad hoc components.

But given the differences between Napoleonic battles and today's external operations, is it not utopian to envisage such a small army conducting an offensive using the divisional principle?

  • The divisional system in contemporary engagements

Ability to manoeuvre, to operate, to concentrate on one point, minimum resistance capacity of a detachment...: what place and relevance for all these advantages of the divisional system in our current commitments? After analysing the nature of contemporary commitments, the divisional system will be studied in the framework of the three commitment hypotheses of the Army's operational contract.

For the past fifteen years or so, France has been engaged in asymmetrical combat in the face of a limited number of "insurgents", and the texts indicate that "[t]hese are the three hypotheses of engagement in the Army's operational contract.symmetrical conflicts are unlikely for the decades to come" [10], even if they have never been ruled out by successive white papers. The notion of a decisive battle, or even just a battle, seems to be relegated to the background. Napoleonic" military engagement by force alone no longer allows wars to be won; today we speak of a global maneuver in which politics, tactics, and humanitarianism are intermingled... Linear devices have disappeared, concentrations are limited....Linear devices have disappeared, concentrations are limited, the front tends to give way to gaps, the precision of weapons systems and the performance of information and communication systems allow for a widening of intervals and a more extensive spread of units. Since the Second World War, we have gradually witnessed a change of scale in all areas. At Austerlitz, there were 160,000 soldiers engaged in a battle lasting half a dozen hours. At Verdun, more than 700,000 people died in a battle that lasted ten months. In comparison, current operations are carried out on the scale of two GTIAs, or about 2,000 men. While the divisional system and its basic brick - the division - were designed to facilitate the movement of a massed army that would then assemble to fight a conventional enemy, the scale of current engagements calls into question this organization, if not its principles.

However, conventional threats still exist and the 2014 White Paper sets the operational contract for our armies according to identified threats. What place does the divisional system have in the context of the three hypotheses of engagement (HE) retained and an army format reduced to 100,000 men?

  • HE1This assumption of commitment is the reference operational situation (ROS), i.e. armingand reconstituting the national emergency level(ENU), carrying out deterrence, protection and prevention missions and crisis management (two to three theatres, 6 000 to 7 000 troops).

This reference operational situation does not provide for the commitment of a division. It translates, for example, into a maximum commitment in Barkhane of 3 500 men on the ground (in 2010, 4 000 men in Afghanistan), i.e. three IATFs. Faced with such numbers, the divisional system makes little sense. While splitting up remains an organisational principle with a basic brick at the GTIA level that has a minimum capacity for resistance, these commitments do not seem to benefit from certain advantages offered by Bourcet's divisional system. Indeed, modern communications systems do not favour subsidiarity - or even tend to the opposite effect - and the extensions do not offer a regrouping capacity allowing support from a neighbouring unit within a limited timeframe.

  • HE 2The following is a hypothesis for emergency engagement in the field of protection (HE-PROT). In addition to the SOR, it includes the reinforcement of the national territory on which the army must be able to deploy up to 10,000 soldiers (TN 10,000), and the reinforcement of the permanent security posture and deterrence (TN + DOM COM).

It is this hypothesis of engagement that was applied by the armies following the attacks of January 2015. This is probably the hypothesis that is the furthest from a divisional system: the absence of inter-service engagement and a static arrangement in support of the internal security forces that limits its autonomy completely calls into question the fundamental principles of the divisional system.

  • HE 3: this hypothesis of a major intervention commitment (HE-INTER), in addition to the missions carried out within the framework of HE-PROT and with some pooling of "sample" equipmentThis is a major intervention commitment (HE-INTER), in addition to the missions carried out in the framework of HE-PROT and with some pooling of "sample" equipment, provides for a coalition commitment within six months and for an intensive six-month commitment, with a force volume of two brigades and associated command and support resources (up to 21.000 troops) in order to meet the requirement to be a framework nation.

This last hypothesis, the most dimensional, certainly provides for the engagement of a divisional CP, but only two French brigades. It should be recalled that the first White Paper of 1972, written at the heart of a policy based on nuclear deterrence, still provided for a "resolute and effective" fight. thanks to the 1st Army, sometimes referred to as the "battle corps", comprising five divisions with three brigades, two of which were mechanised. It was during Operation DAGUET that France committed the equivalent of a division for the last time, as a flank guard to the offensive. However, the RETEX shows that even if it was a successful engagement and the largest in volume since Algeria, it showed the limits of the model as the difficulties in forming the division were numerous. If the divisional manoeuvre still exists, it is no longer on a national scale, but on a multinational scale. Moreover, whether in this type of operation or in a NATO coalition, each nation has its own area and mission rather than being part of a global manoeuvre. In addition to the problems of interoperability, cooperation generally comes up against different political imperatives [11] which prevent any real overall manoeuvre and therefore any "multinational divisional principle". This was, moreover, already the case during the Second World War, when the allies had difficulties in coordination. In the hypothesis of a major engagement, the large-scale divisional system thus seems to have lived, its basic brick being particularly difficult to generate, and the manoeuvre of the divisions being subject to national contingencies.

The French division has become synonymous with the army, and the most common use we have of it is probably more related to a CP level (level 2) that plans, conducts and supports the joint manoeuvre, than to a unit of 15,000 men. The major lessons of the 2007-2015 period underline that the Army is based on command structures and brigades. As such, level 2 is the first complete level of manoeuvre, regardless of the volume of forces engaged [12].

In the end, France no longer has the means and/or ambition of an army that can manoeuvre with several divisions (1994: nine divisions; 2015: two divisions). But does it need one? The change of scale in contemporary engagements would tend to show that it is not necessary, with the GTIA playing the role of the elementary brick held in the past by the division.

  • IATF: Adapting the Divisional System to Today's Conflicts?

The divisional system was originally based on the division of an army. While the basic brick of "division" has lost its relevance due to changes in the conduct of warfare as well as tight budgets, RETEX confirmed the need for more modular structures. The art of operations is ultimately only possible through division. Yesterday, division was the smallest part of the army capable of fighting a battle. From now on, the GTIA is probably the only real maneuver pawn France can afford. It is therefore relevant to look at its doctrine and compare it to divisional principles before looking at the GTIA of tomorrow, the Scorpion GTIA.

Today, the GTIA is the basic tactical employment module[13]. 13] Is it consistent with the divisional principle enunciated by Guibert? While there are some perennial criteria, there are fundamental differences between the use of an AIMTF in 2015 and a division in the 18th century.

The basic principles respect the doctrine of the divisional system. First of all, the AIMTF is indeed a joint force, the only combination that makes it possible to conduct tactical operations as a whole by combining fire with movement. Furthermore, it has a high degree of autonomy in terms of support. It is the lowest level of land forces with a logistic autonomy ensuring its units the capacity to conduct an action without major replacements. Finally, the principle of mutual support is maintained, even if the old adage of "meeting on foot" is being replaced by the need for radio links and medical support. If a military commander would not have agreed in the past to place a division more than three hours' march away for tactical reasons, a COMMANDER today would not agree to send a unit without a permanent radio link and, above all, without the possibility of medical evacuation within a reasonable period of time.

However, the application of these principles diverges from the foundations of the divisional system.

  • If, in the 18th century, autonomy existed at the divisional level and aimed at enabling a smaller unit to feed itself more easily in a given area, support today corresponds to a complex logistics chain from the metropolis to the "line of contact". The logistical autonomy provided is therefore minimal and has little to do with a real ability to manoeuvre alone without replenishment.
  • Moreover, the GTIA has become a simple circumstantial unit "tailored" to the needs of a given operation. While the combined arms combination is effective, it does not, however, have all the capabilities of an army in combat, unlike the original divisional system. It depends on artillery fire support still centralized at the brigade level as well as air support depending on the higher level.
  • Finally, the ATIG is only analysed in view of recent engagements against an asymmetrical or even highly asymmetrical enemy. Faced with a conventional enemy, it could turn out that the GTIA counter is too small.

If the effectiveness of the ad hoc AIMTF in the face of an asymmetric enemy is well established, could the Scorpion AIMTF provide the necessary strength to ensure the continuity of divisional principles in the face of a more numerous enemy?

According to early doctrine documents, the S-ITAG will be organized into four tactical echelons: C2, discovery echelon, assault echelon and logistics echelon. The primary objective of the S-ETAG will be the rapid abandonment of the enemy's original objectives and planning as a result of the systemic collapse of the enemy. Better informed on the enemy's contours and mastering in real time its own device, it seeks to obtain an effect of fulgurating and ubiquity in the successive deployment of its combat echelons, concentrating in depth, in a brutal and almost simultaneous way, its effects on the points of articulation of the adversary. The ability to rapidly constrain the will and ability to continue fighting in the adversary's ranks represents a major political challenge.

While the preparatory work on doctrine envisages an asymmetric enemy, but also a symmetric enemy, it seems for the moment to have focused on a single GTIA, an isolated manoeuvre pawn that would not be part of a general manoeuvre with three or four GTIAs. Before being able to formulate an opinion on the appropriateness of the divisional system applied to the S-ETAG, it is essential to await a complete official doctrine.

While this single combat capability, its joint composition and logistical echelon give it all the characteristics that would allow it to be part of the divisional system, there is a concern that the basic building block of the system is too small to ensure a truly coordinated manoeuvre.


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In 1945, Winston Churchill, asking Stalin to respect religious freedom in Red Army occupied Central Europe, received the following reply in return: "Pope, how many divisions?". Today, faced with an obvious change of scale, an appropriate answer would probably have been: "How many GTIA" operational for France? France is one of the only armies that still has resources across the entire capability spectrum. This advantage enables it to plan autonomous engagements and an overall manoeuvre of the type envisaged by the divisional system. While the reappearance of divisions reintroduces the ability to conduct large-scale operations, it is no longer the basic tactical module, but the command level of our army. Manoeuvre is now envisaged at the level of the S-ITAG as the basic pawn in the splitting of an army.

Manoeuvre remains at the heart of tactical concerns, but since Operation Daguet no commitment justifies a divisional manoeuvre. France only commits at the level of a brigade, and the division only makes sense within the framework of a CP level. The asymmetrical commitments do not make it possible to study the relevance of Bourcet's divisional system on the scale of a coordinated manoeuvre at division or corps level. If the need for divisionalization still seems obvious, it is to be feared that the elongations between units accepted in Mali would be unreasonable in a non desert theatre. Moreover, in the face of a conventional enemy, will the guiding principles of the Scorpion IATF, aiming at a manoeuvre concentrated on a very precise objective, really allow for adaptation to the frictions of war? Nothing is less certain.


Saint-cyrien of the promotion "General Vanbremeersch", Squadron Leader PIUSSAN served in the 12th and 1st artillery regiments,where he commanded a firing battery LRU. He was projected twice in operations as well as in Gabon, and served two years as a section chief at EMIA. At the end of his command time, he joined the staff of the 1st Logistics Brigade. He is currently a trainee at the War School.

Saint-cyrien of the promotion "General Vanbremeersch" (2001-2004), Major GALLAND served in the 12th Artillery Regiment as section chief LRM maintenance before becoming deputy officer and then unit commander of the HAWK maintenance battery in the 402nd Artillery Regiment. Projected in 2007 in Bosnia, he is now Chief of Staff of REPFRANCE. As Armoured Fleet Supply Management Officer between 2012 and 2015 at ITMIS, he was then admitted to the EMS2 and is currently a trainee at the War School.


1] Jean Chagniot, Les camps de 1727 en Lorraine sous le comte de Belle-Isle, compte de Belle-Isle, compte de Belle-Isle, compte rendu rendu rendu de colloques sur les camps de manœuvre de Compiègne et Verberie, pp. 65-68.

2] Henri-François Comte de Bombelles, "[2 ] Henri-François Comte de Bombelles , "Treaty of Military Evolutions", J.-T. Herissant, 1754.

3] Maurice of Saxony, "....My daydreams", Paris, Économica, 2002, p153.


5] For a more detailed description of the adoption of the corps, the reader may refer to the article by Battalion Chief Taleu

6 ] Lebrun François, "The 17th century"Paris, Armand Colin, 2007, p.252.

7] "Impact de l'art de la guerre napoléonien dans la seconde moitié du XIXème siècle", Eugène Chalvardjian, p49;

[8] Cahier du RETEX: "L'armée de Terre française 1978-2015, bilan de 37 années d'opérations ininterrompues" (The French Army 1978-2015, assessment of 37 years of uninterrupted operations) - 2015

[9] ATT 903 - EMP 32.201 - Divisional Operations Manual - 2010 Edition

[10] FT01 - Winning the Battle, Leading to Peace - 2007

[11] FT03 - The Use of Land Forces in Joint Operations - 2015

[12] FT04 - Fundamentals of Joint Manoeuvre - 2011

[13] EMP 24.201- Generic Joint Battle Group Employment Doctrine - 2012

Title : Relevance of the divisional system from Bourcet
Author (s) : Chef d’escadron François PIUSSAN et le Commandant Cyril GALLAND