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For General Hubin, the fundamental change lies in the density of means capable of controlling a given space [39]. Dispersion responds to a double constraint, the cost of the units (each new generation of equipment proves to be 2 to 8 times more expensive than the previous one [40]), on the one hand, and the precision of indirect fires, on the other hand. The first phase of the global maneuver leads to a battle for information, again due to a double constraint.

If it is necessary for the preservation of freedom of action, it is also the result of a logistic temporality. The means necessary for electronic/cyber-sizing are less heavy than those constituting the core of the forces (tanks, mechanised infantry, artillery). If they obviously require protection, it can be lighter and more mobile. This acquisition of intelligence is not without question. How, for example, to penetrate built-up or underground environments? How can intelligence gathering capabilities be extended without, at the same time, overburdening the equipment? The same applies to action on opposing networks. How can we scramble opposing systems without disturbing our own, or how can we guarantee the digital anonymity of units?

If this battle for the control of information does not find a real outcome, the means that lead to it become decisive objectives of tactical action. It is then necessary to determine how best to associate action on networks with kinetic manoeuvre. Countermeasures, both active and passive, are of fundamental importance for survival. Aeromobile means become preponderant in order to carry out, locally, the rocking of efforts and to ensure the superiority of melee weapons [41]. Thus, coordination in the 3rd dimension is part, following the SCORPION combat experiments, of the most sensitive functionalities identified for the implementation of SICS [42]. In the same way, ATF highlights the capabilities of the Army's air combat and light aviation (ALAT) to capable of freeing themselves from obstacles, while getting as close to the ground as possible, in terms of responsiveness and mobility [43]. It is thus a question of remaining oneself below a certain concentration threshold, while pushing the adversary to achieve it, in order to neutralise and destroy him from scattered positions (artillery, aviation, ground/ground missiles). Land forces, on the other hand, have clearly identified the problem of surface-to-air defence, especially low-level and, specifically, for small echelons. The response to compartmentalised environments remains a source of concern. Examples such as the battle of Mosul also raise questions about the place and resources allocated to mobility support, the continuity between on-board and off-board combat and the capacity for regeneration in the face of attrition.

These possible tactical successes will only be of interest once they have been vigorously exploited. General Hubin identifies a common denominator, allowing the link between tactical and operational: logistics. This conditions tactical action in terms of direction, elongation and flow. It responds to three main constraints: the supply of fuel, water and food, the tonnage of equipment (ammunition, spare parts) and the evacuation of the wounded. The tactical vector, which seeks to reach the adversary, is linked to an operations centre by a logistics vector. The latter is vulnerable because it links the two, following a frequently predictable route. To ensure the safety of the whole, the tendency is to align the directions of operations (engagement of forces in a theatre), the lines of operations (connecting the centres to the forces) and the directions of engagement (direction of a force for a given action) [44]. A possible alternative is the multiplication of temporary centres of operations, allowing for the multiplication and modification of possible actions. In the context of an increasingly important interweaving, the question of transmitting the understanding of the tactical situation from units in contact to support capabilities becomes a key issue [45]. 45] Some are considering, for example, the use of autonomous vehicles to replace some of the vectors.


The essential purpose of the manoeuvre, for a regular force, is to cause the destruction or disabling of the opponent's assets. Facing it, the irregular pattern refuses concentration to avoid fixation, while seeking imbrication in a systematic way. The dodge becomes an absolute principle of safety, which takes, moreover, a very marked internal character. The maneuver develops without any real polarization axis. Intelligence does not improve combat performance, but determines the use of it. It is knowledge, before capability, which is at the origin of freedom of action. However, these modes of action seem, given modern technological developments, to have to find their way into future manoeuvre.

The major difficulties for land forces therefore seem to lie in the control of space and, perhaps even more so, of peoples. In such a framework, the evaluation of the optimal size and configuration of the initial battle space becomes fundamental. The central objective becomes the following: to break the opponent's freedom of action by cutting him off from his sources of information. The problems of combat among peoples are encountered in this niche, while the forces isolate the zones, square the terrain and are in a position to intervene directly for the benefit of the intelligence function. In short, surprise is provoked by the dilution of attentions, its safety is ensured by the bursting of devices, while pushing the opponent to concentration. It becomes perhaps possible, in the same model, to combine the ability to face both types of combat [47]. In this respect, the observation of the modes of action that our adversaries develop in order to evade our capabilities is rich in lessons. As an example, the Islamic State is capable, taking advantage of the weather conditions, which shelter it from the coalition's SRI means, to mount coordinated motorised counter-attacks [48]. 48] Similarly, it is possible to envisage a tandem organisation, between light mobile forces, more numerous, and smaller heavy forces[49]. Some logics of the coupled combat [50] can, thus, find to apply, in particular, in the exploitation of robotization. Coupling makes it possible to mesh a given area, while adding to the mass of fighters, in a punctual way, very advanced technical maneuvers. Provided that the whole is sufficiently coordinated, the advantages offered by the two sides are synergistic[51].

51] It is within this logic of knowledge that the question of creating a specialty stream in intercultural environments can be addressed, among other things. The creation of a specialized command for operational military assistance of the Army is a step in this direction[52]. The aim of the structure is, in addition to offering the expertise of specially seasoned or trained personnel, to provide a global vision in terms of anticipation and planning. Over the long term, the question of the management of this pool of executives with specific know-how is acutely raised. A new parameter of complexity could be added to the existing problems, with the doctrinal and technological gap that SCORPION will, in fact, entail with certain partners [53]. 53] Similarly, the use of such systems to train and train partner forces may have the disadvantage of creating technical dependencies that initially do not exist. Coupled combat with partner forces remains, in this respect, an interesting avenue. In spite of all the constraints, contemporary operations are showing an undeniable increase [54].


Any adaptation must bear in mind the need for the capability coherence of the force system, materialized by the acronym DORESE (Doctrine, Organization, Human Resources and Training, Training, Support and Equipment) [55]. However, there is a real risk of thinking that the increase in adaptive capacities, however effective it may be, masks the need for structural changes[56]. General Hubin himself has since acknowledged that he has made too much progress on the interweaving of systems, the lack of linearity, and the pace of implementation of technological change[57]. 57] For example, if wanting to systematically replace the human mass by indirect fire is tempting, we must admit that the volume of our artillery means does not allow us to do so. In the same way, the setting in operational condition must remain a central point of attention. Because of shortcomings in this area, despite a clear theoretical numerical superiority, the Ukrainian forces will never be able to engage more than 60% of their volume, in the face of a more manoeuvrable adversary [59].

It has to be said that other administrations, or sectors of activity, or even other armies (Air Force) are faced with this problem. For example, the empowerment of certain tasks, the most exposed, such as the fortification of advanced positions, is already a reality in the mining sector [60]. In terms of command organisation, the Ministry of the Interior provides an interesting example. In a crisis situation, it relies on a local level, to which an inter-ministerial crisis cell (CIC) provides exceptional resources that exceed its own capacities (logistics, security, health). It thus acts more as a coordinating rather than a command body[61]. 61] Even if the above-mentioned examples cannot be directly transposed to the army, they nevertheless deserve special attention. Finally, our allies are not to be outdone, as the British Agile Warrior programme [62] shows.

In fine, avoiding the loss of the notion of major effect, due to a tactical entryism made possible by the visualization of the different levels via technology, is a real challenge[63]. Whatever the model chosen, a clarification of the link between decision-making (process), the means (headquarters, decision support tools) and the decision-maker (the operational leader) remains necessary[64]. While General Hubin's decentralisation may have too many drawbacks at present (loss of coherence, vulnerability of networks, insufficient consideration of the major constraints of the urban area), SCORPION has chosen a middle way solution. Tactical links are horizontalised, but a pyramid-like hierarchy is retained for management and planning [65]. The tactical study, constrained by the volume of data that it forces to be assimilated, if only for an embryo of reflection, may seem daunting. Nevertheless, it is still necessary, in order to make the best use of new technical capabilities, while guarding against an archaism of poor quality.

39] Hubin, Ibid, p.104.

40] The cost of a Rafale fighter is approximately twice that of the Mirage 2000D (put into service in 1993), four times that of the first Mirage 2000 versions (1984) and at least six times that of the Mirage F1 (1974, still in the order of battle). The cost of a Leclerc tank is about three times that of an AMX-30. The Armoured Infantry Combat Vehicle (AICV), which enters service in 2008, costs at least six times more than the AMX-10P it replaces. The proportion is roughly the same between the Tiger helicopter, in anti-tank version, and its predecessor or between the future NH90 transport helicopter and the Puma. These figures come from several sources, including the website ; reports to the national assembly n°385 and 1775 available at .

GOYA Michel, "Dix millions de dollars le milicien. La crise du modèle occidental de guerre limitée de haute technologie", Politique étrangère 2007/1 (Printemps), 2007, p. 191-202, p. 197.

41] Hubin, Ibid, pp. 105, 106,108,110, 113.

42] Colonel Sébastien de Peyret, Art. cit, p. 29.

43] ATF, p. 35.

44] Hubin, Ibid, p.117, 123,130, 128.

45] CDEC, Op, cit, p.21.

46] Hubin, Ibid, p.55.

47] Ibid, p.164, 166, 167, 170, 177, 178.

48] Matteo Puxton, "Powerful Counteroffensive of the Islamic State in the Syrian Desert", October 2018 .

49] To be compared, in part, with the modes of action developed by Colonel Brosollet in "Essai sur la non bataille", 1977 .

50] Terminology developed by Thomas Huber which designates the coupling of regular and irregular forces. HUBER Thomas M., "Compound Warfare: A Conceptual Framework ," in Thomas M. Huber (ed.), Compound Warfare: that Fatal Knot, Fort Leavenworth, KS, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, 2002, pp. 1-10.

51] HENROTIN Joseph, "Bringing Regular and Irregular Forces Together, Coupled Combat," DSI Defence and International Security, 2017, pp. 20-25, p. 20.

[52] 'overseas and abroad.

[53] CDEC, Op. cit. at 34.

54] The American operation in Afghanistan "Enduring Freedom ", particularly its first phase, from late September 2001 to spring 2002, is a textbook case. This scheme was also used in Iraq, to counter the insurgency that emerged after the 2003 invasion. Operation Allied Force (Kosovo, 1999) was also part of this logic. Operation Harmattan (Libya, 2011) is also a de facto coupled combat. The West does not have a monopoly on it, since in 2007, in Somalia, Ethiopian forces were also engaged in it. Recently, at least 250 to 300 members of the French special forces were present in Iraq and Syria, accompanying the various forces engaged against the Islamic state.

55] Colonel Sébastien de Peyret, Art. Cit, p.11.

56] CDEC, p.45.

57] Mickael Shurkin, Senior political scientist of the RAND Corporation, interview with the author, May 2019.

58] France, for example, has only 77 Caesar canons. A single year of engagement in the Middle East, with about 10,000 shells fired, would have consumed nearly 35% of them.

Nicolas Maldera, " High-intensity combat: where do we stand? "IFRAP Foundation, March 2018.

59] Senate, Art. Cit.

60] CDEC, p.55.

61] Idem, p. 89.

61] Battalion Chief Stéphane Jay, Art. cit. p.50.

[63] CDEC, Idem, p.96.

64] Colonel Fabrice Clée, "La prise de décision opérationnelle dans l'armée de Terre", Revue militaire générale, 53/2019, p.17.

65] Squadron Leader Stéphane Jay, Idem, p.53.

Author (s) : Monsieur Hugo-Alexandre QUEIJO, chercheur associé du pôle études et prospective du CDEC