Center for Strategic Decision Research


Challenges to Global Security: A Military Point of View

General Richard Wolsztynski
Chief of Staff of the French Air Force


Let me address three key questions concerning the new challenges to global security: first, what are the risks and threats we will be facing during the coming period? Second, which international security organization has emerged since the end of the bipolar word? And third, do we have sufficient and appropriate resources for responding to the new, complex environment? I would also like to discuss several approaches to dealing with these issues.  

The Current Risks. The attacks of September 11, 2001, and other recent threats, have refocused our attention on the potential for new forms of attack. The September 11 attacks were obvious proof of the effectiveness of the asymmetric approach that is often used by non-state actors with private resources and capabilities. Some states are also being tempted to return to nationalism and promote ideologies that could add to the growing crisis. Today we face a complex security environment. 

The United States as a Global Power. Regarding the second question, it is obvious that the United States has become the preeminent global power in the post-bipolar world. The U.S. is currently engaged in a wide range of ambitious programs in order to prepare itself for the future. As a result of this, however, the role of international security organizations may be seriously weakened. 

The Quality of Our Resources. Clearly, in the current world economy, our resources are constrained. We will need a new approach to responding to the new and complex environment. 


The new challenges to global security are multifaceted and complex. Because of this we will need a broader approach to security in order to provide stability throughout the world. The events of September 11 reminded us of the importance of protecting our territory and providing internal security. But in order to prepare for the unexpected, we also need to have a global crisis-response mechanism and be ready to participate in coalitions that meet particular conditions. However, this can potentially weaken the role of international security organizations. 

The new challenges have also shown us that responsiveness is a key factor both before and during a crisis. To become more responsive, we must focus on mobility, interoperability, and developing innovative technology, and we must provide real-time management to allow forces to make quick transitions from one phase to another. We must also strengthen our military capability to ensure the delivery of the right equipment, supplies, and personnel to the right place at the right time. In addition, we must be capable of collecting, processing, and disseminating an uninterrupted flow of information as needed. At this time the French forces are somewhat deficient in this area, but we have gained experience through operations in the Balkans, fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, and in two recent crises in Africa. 


To decrease our deficiencies, we need to cooperate on capability-based efforts in research and technology, doctrine, planning and execution, and capabilities sharing. We also need to improve our intelligence capabilities and reinforce and secure our forward bases and line of communications. We must ensure that we cover the entire spectrum of military capabilities and that we have true operational consistency. In addition, we need to improve cooperation and coordination in interagency and multinational operations and train our personnel in the complexity of modern military tools. 

All of us need to address these issues. And we must all take into account what is being done within NATO and in the different European countries in order to enhance our multinational coalition's operational efficiency. The French air force, for example, will be determining its future air operations and how these operations will be conducted in a joint and multinational context. 


In addition to the three questions I asked initially, several other questions must also be addressed: 

  • What missions will our forces be asked to perform in the future? 
  • What means do we need in order to guarantee responsiveness and to be prepared for what will be expected of us? 
  • What type of training will we need to provide to our combat units? 
  • How can we maintain and, in some cases, reinforce the level of interoperability between our forces and the American forces? 
  • How can we make our international organizations more valuable in the realms of security and defense? 

To answer these questions, we all must address them; only in that way will we be able to face the challenges of tomorrow. In particular we will need to learn how to anticipate future challenges and how to conduct military operations in joint, multinational, and interagency contexts. I believe that there is no substitute for international cooperation, and the French armed forces remain strongly committed to such work. 












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