Reflections on the French School of Counter-Rebellion

Reflections on the French School of Counter-Rebellion:

An Interview with Etienne de Durand

by Octavian Manea

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How important were Charles Lacheroy and Roger Trinquier in shaping the French School of COIN compared to David Galula?

There was much debate and opposition within the French Army regarding the proper answers to guerre révolutionnaire, and no single school of thought ever prevailed. If there is such a thing as the French School of Counterinsurgency, its founding father undoubtedly is Charles Lacheroy, and with him the proponents of DGR (doctrine de guerre révolutionnaire or French Counterinsurgency Doctrine) to include Jacques Hogard. During the French Indochina and Algeria wars, they were extremely influential towards French policy and strategy leading conferences and lectures, contributing to doctrinal manuals, and advising on day-to-day operations. Lacheroy, for instance, had high-level contacts within the government and was able to implement his views in 1957, with the creation of 5e bureaux all over Algeria and the generalization of guerre psychologique (psychwar or psychological operations).

Roger Trinquier is at first more of a practitioner. He wrote on COIN at the end of the period and should therefore only in retrospect be included as a central, yet not foundational, figure of French COIN.

Contrastingly, David Galula was an intelligence officer and most of what he wrote was marginal in France. Nobody knew of him.

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Etienne de Durand is director of the Security Studies Center at the Institut Franí┬žais des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris. He is also professor at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris and at the Ecole de guerre. He is the author of the chapter dedicated to France in "Understanding Counterinsurgency-Doctrine, operations and challenges" (Routledge, 2010) edited by Thomas Rid and Thomas Keaney. He is contributor to the Ultima Ratio (http://ultimaratio-blog.org/) a blog focused on debating contemporary security and defense issues.

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