Military Identity in French Air Force : A Paradoxical Trend to the Militarization

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Christophe PAJON, French Air Force Academy - Ecole de l'Air, France
Military identity as professional identity is varied, constantly evolving and is the result of interactions. Therefore the classical theories of change in military profession are built on the existence of genuine, unique and homogeneous military identity. This point of view can be usefull to demonstrate a process of convergence with the society. But it seems inappropriate when studies are focused on services, specific units within armed forces.

In other words, "to be military" can have different meanings according the membership to on or another one part of armed forces. To study impacts of social, institutional and technological changes, it is necessary to consider this diversity.

The case of airmen in french armed forces is interesting because its allow to underline a different way "to be military", and how some evolutions tell about their military identity. Air Force ca be considered as "Industrial Model" (High ratio combat/support units, well-educated people, over-representation of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, etc.). Airmen are considered sometimes in funny way as "not-practising military" (related to "practising catholics"). Some airmen are considering themselves as far away from the military job. But since 15 years, organizational reforms (jointness), increase of interior and overseas missions and technological innovations transform thier all-day life. In this case, airmen identity seems change in two different directions : reflections about military commitment by combat units and remilitarization of support units. This paper will try to enlight these transformations in the French Air Force.