Digital Soldiers in the (French) Armed Forces: An Emerging Cyber-Military Identity?

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Saïd HADDAD, Saint Cyr Military Academy, France
In 2013, Cyber defence security has been defined as a national priority by the French White Paper on Defence and National Security. One year later the French MOD launched the Cyber Defence Pact. This Pact is dedicated to counter cyber-attacks and cyber-threats by allowing to what is called the defence community to “explore, invest and take control of this new strategic field”. Indeed, cybersecurity and cyber defence have emerged as a national priority while a new cyber command unit (CYBERCOM) has been launched on January 1st 2017. This new unit is dedicated to increase French cyber-defence and offence capabilities. CYBERCOM will employ nearly 2,600 people belonging to the French armed forces. If CYBERCOM seems to be the natural development of France’s developing strategy, the rise of cyber specialists among French armed forces has to be underlined while there’s a shortage of skills. Recruiting, training and retaining cyber specialists in uniform are among challenges France’s Defence faces.

In the light of this emerging and consolidating priority and based on interviews and analysis of French digital soldiers (e.g. officers) biographical trajectories, this communication is devoted to discuss how and why militaries decide to become digital (or cyber) ones. This communication will turn to the perceptions that digital or cyber soldiers have of their own trajectories and their cyber skills. How their identity as militaries and cyber specialists is articulated and constructed will also be examined.