Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

French General Calls for Improved Tactics

General Jean Coulloumme-Labarthe, superintendent of the Saint Cyr Military Academy in Paris, proposed increased controls on violence through global regulation of military force during a speech in Riggs Library on Thursday.

He emphasized the importance of basic officer training in instilling cadets with the academic knowledge, tactical skills and self-restraint necessary to achieve global peace.

“When you win the war, it is not finished,” he said. “You must win the peace.”

Coulloumme-Labarthe traced the progression of violence from the World Wars to the nuclear threat of the Cold War. The Cold War, he said, brought the world to “unprecedented heights of violence” and introduced a new era of terror.

Coulloumme-Labarthe also said that technology and globalization have bred new forms of violence.

“As we have seen, no state is immune to violent acts of terror,” he said.

Coulloumme-Labarthe distinguished terrorism from warfare. To combat terror, he said, states must not resort to warfare but rather concentrate on intelligence, tracking, information sharing and pinpoint military action.

“Violence is contagious. To control the violence you must use strength to control the force,” Coulloumme-Labarthe said.

Controlling force means the use of deterrence instead of total devastation, particularly in developing states, he continued.

“Economic and political development is a global project,” he said. “But the rise of the information age has marginalized weak states.”

Even so, he said, it is necessary for occupying armies to adapt to the developmental process and avoid hard and fast action, thus reducing needless violence on both sides. Coulloumme-Labarthe said officer training is central in meeting this objective.

“I think I have a great responsibility in preparing the future officers of the French army to be able to work towards peace all over the world by their simple actions,” he said. “They need to be very strong in their academic knowledge and their professional skills. But, above all, they need to think very deeply and often about ethics. We need to act in thinking and think in acting.”

Coulloumme-Labarthe’s remarks were met with mixed reaction from Georgetown students.

“I think his speech was good, but too much geared to his American audience,” Diego Lopez Bloch (SFS ’08) said. “I think the general downplayed the imminent possibility of creating a European defense force that would be separated from NATO.”

Joe Saboe (SFS ’07), a cadet in Georgetown’s army ROTC program, pointed out some differences between army training and application tactics in an unpredictable era of insurgent warfare. He said he agreed, however, with Coulloumme-Labarthe’s focus on ethics.

“It’s been interesting to discuss unconventional conflicts,” Saboe said. “It’s particularly interesting to hear the French ethical approach in training cadets. In order to win conflicts, you have to assume the ethical stance. I think that is very important today as the United States is engaged around the world.”

Lieutenant Colonel Allen J. Gill, director of Georgetown’s Army ROTC program, said he also agreed with Coulloumme-Labarthe’s views about cadet training.

“It is important to encourage a dialogue not only between our nations, but between our academic and ROTC programs,” Gill said. “The foundation of cadet education as laid out by General Coulloumme-Labarthe is the absolute focus. There we have more similarities than differences.”

Matthew Court, a Saint-Cyr cadet who is currently working at Fort McNair in the District, said that while French and American cadets are ideologically similar, the ways in which they express their ideals can differ.

“At my level, I meet a lot of cadets at West Point. We have many of the same ideas, but not the same ways to explain them,” he said. “We have the same goals, but not the same ways to approach them.”

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