Since the end of conscription, anything that can bring the armies and the civilian world closer together is welcome, especially with regard to students from the Grandes Ecoles, called upon to become the “decision makers” of tomorrow. And even if many initiatives have been taken, the fact remains that the gap remains difficult to bridge.
Thus, a parliamentary report, published in August 2020, deplored the “lack of military culture” among civilian administrations. “In a context where a growing proportion of civilian decision-makers will not have done military service, the development of a better knowledge of the armed forces is a major issue, which the military are aware of”, had indeed estimated its authors.
An observation more or less shared by General François Lecointre, then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces [CEMA]which had extended it to all of civil society. The “deep ignorance of our fellow citizens of the reality of the military profession and of war can only affect the understanding of the major issues concerning defence.
Be that as it may, the agreements between the armies and the world of education have multiplied, in different forms. For example, the Special Military School [ESM] of Saint-Cyr Coëtiquidan has set up the “Grandes Ecoles Partnership” [PGE]which allows Master 1 level students to receive military training for seven weeks, before joining a regiment for three months.
And, last week, the 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment [REG] was the first unit of the Foreign Legion to sign a partnership agreement with a Grande Ecole, in this case ESSEC “Business School” [École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales].
“The signing of this unprecedented partnership between a Parisian Grande Ecole and a unit of the Foreign Legion has an ambitious objective: to consolidate the army-nation link and to promote the spirit of defense through regular exchanges between young military leaders and future economic leaders. of the country”, argued the Ministry of the Armed Forces, during its last weekly press briefing. Above all, it will be a question of promoting the “virtues of command” as well as the values of altruism, fraternity, high standards and surpassing oneself” carried by the Army.
More specifically, this partnership concerns the “Geopolitics, Defense and Leadership” course, created within ESSEC in September 2021. Currently, it has around thirty students.
“ESSEC intends to train responsible managers who are aware of the consequences of their actions and the complexity of their environment. This sector carries this requirement and the partnership with the 1st REG will feed it in a very concrete way”, explained Michel Baroni, the Dean of the teachers.
For the person in charge of this sector, Professor Aurélien Colson, this partnership will make it possible to instil in students “important qualities” [comme l’exemplarité, l’esprit d’équipe et la prise de décision dans un environnement complexe} que les officiers du 1er REG « ont poussé au plus haut niveau d’exigence ».
En tout cas, le chef de corps du régiment, le colonel Perrier voit beaucoup de potentiel dans ce partenariat. « Mes officiers ont engrangé une expérience unique au contact de leurs légionnaires. Ils ont à cœur d’échanger avec les étudiants de l’ESSEC sur l’importance de bien commander les hommes qui leur sont confiés », a-t-il souligné.
Photo : 1er REG / ESSEC – N. Launay