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Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan Military Academy: a reform to “harden” the leaders – Brittany



“The dangers which lie in wait for us are approaching us”, slipped General François Lecointre to the deputies who heard him one last time, at the beginning of July. Relatively unnoticed, his warning says a lot about the framework in which the French armies, whose mission is to anticipate threats in order to prepare for them, are considering the future of international relations.

On land as on sea; in the air, space or cyberspace. Everywhere, the strategists agree, the manifestations of power are expressed in a “competition-contestation-confrontation continuum (…) which obliges us collectively to consider all the assumptions of engagement, and especially the most demanding”, insists the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Thierry Burkhard, in his first “Order of the Day” dated 22 July.

These last two years at the head of the Army, this parachutist legionnaire had set as a priority to “harden” and “thicken” his ranks. He had, in particular, entrusted to General Patrick Collet, the patron of the schools of Saint-Cyr-Coëtquidan, in Guer (56), the task of rethinking the course of young officers in this direction. On July 31, he bequeathed to his successor, General Hervé de Courrèges (see opposite), a new matrix which emphasizes the “singularity of the military leader” and “the warrior spirit”.

A return to the fundamentals

General Collet explains: “This new framework will be more realistic and more demanding on the physical, technical and moral levels. It will allow our students to take up four key challenges: the combativeness of the soldier, the authority of the leader, the intelligence of the officer, the humanity of man ”. It is a return to the fundamentals for the institution created in 1802 by Napoleon I. It is not so long ago that its leaders readily referred to “a great management school”. In June, its name change officially marked its entry into a new era. We must now say the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan. And it brings together three distinct schools: the Special Military School (ESM), which trains the Saint-Cyriens (three years of training); the Ecole Militaire Interarmes (EMIA), which recruits from the ranks of the active (two years); and the new Military School for Aspirants of Coëtquidan (EMAC), inaugurated in early July by Florence Parly, the Minister of the Armed Forces, through which the officers under contract (one year) and reserve will pass.

Strong training sessions

The promotions which will join the Breton moor at the end of August will be the first to benefit from the reform. From this winter, the youngest, the Saint-Cyriens, twenty years old on average, will be immersed three months (against one previously) as sergeants in one of the Initial Training Center for Non-Commissioned Members (CFIM) of the Army of Earth. A dive that will allow them to discover their daily life and their profession. For all, the sessions of sport, hardening or shooting will be muscular. And the periods of “simulation” multiplied, during real exercises organized around Coëtquidan with operational units. A few months ago, this was the case, for example, with the legionnaires of two companies of the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment (REI) returning from Mali.

Strategy and philosophy

The novelty is finally at the academic level. The three schools are enriched by an additional common layer called “Military Culture and the Art of War”. It will include in particular an introduction to strategy, entrusted to General Vincent Desportes, the former boss of the École supérieure de guerre, author of an abundant and original reflection – strategy, he explained to his students, “is first of all the art of asking the right questions “… Or a series of lectures given by the philosopher Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine around the questions she addresses in her latest essay entitled:” Why would we still be ready to die ”(Cerf).

In gestation for two years, the new Saint-Cyr is already seducing beyond young people with a vocation to serve. Last year, his leadership training designed for students in top business, engineering and political science schools was taken by storm. They were 150 candidates for 30 places.

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