Is the French Intelligence Agency Losing its Military Edge?

Over the last 15 years, a significant shift has been observed in the employment dynamics within the DGSE.

Military Personnel Reduction

The French external intelligence agency has seen a decrease in its workforce. The reasons behind this shift are multifaceted.

Upsurge in Civilian Recruitment

One factor driving this change has been an upsurge in civilian hiring resulting from an increasing demand for highly specialized skills and technical abilities. This need for specific expertise aligns with the evolving nature of intelligence work.

Loss of “Militariness”

With the decrease in , concerns have been raised about a potential loss of the ‘militariness' of the DGSE. This term refers to the specific mindset, skills and knowledge that military personnel bring to their work. The concern is that without these valuable contributions, the DGSE's capabilities could be negatively impacted.

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Recruitment Challenges

Another critical issue faced by the agency is the difficulty in recruiting due to a lack of cyber technicians and engineers. These skills are highly demanded across all sectors, making it tougher for the DGSE to attract suitable candidates.

Improved Recruitment and Retention

Steps have been taken to address these issues. Proactive recruitment strategies have been implemented, and efforts have been made to improve remuneration and training, which have in turn reduced resignation rates.

Contract Officers: A Solution

To preserve the unique blend of military and civil perspectives, the solution currently being implemented involves the recruitment of contract officers. This approach allows the agency to maintain a balanced workforce and meet its operational requirements.

Recruitment Process and Training

The recruitment process for contract officers typically spans six to eight months. Once selected, each officer undergoes initial military training. The duration of this training varies depending on the branch: twelve weeks for Army and Air Force trainees, and a shorter period of three weeks for Navy recruits.

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Contract Duration and Renewal

Contract officers are usually employed for a duration of four to five years. However, these contracts can be renewed, potentially allowing an officer to serve for up to twenty years.

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