Leadership: The New French Franchise

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September 12, 2007: France has come up with a clever innovation for training foreign officers. France is opening a foreign branch of its Saint Cyr Military Academy (École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr , or "Special Military School of St Cyr") . This school is the equivalent of the American West Point, and was founded about the same time. The first foreign branch will be established in Quatar. Instruction will be in French and Arabic, and will basically mirror the instruction given in the original school. Such "French (primary and secondary) Schools" have long been popular throughout the Middle East, so the concept was readily accepted and welcomed by the Quataris. France signed a military cooperation with Quatar in the 1990s, and both nations have been satisfied with it. On a more practical level, this military cooperation makes it easier to sell French weapons in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. has assisted many nations in opening military academies modeled on West Point. That has appeal because West Point was established mainly as an engineering school, that also turned out military officers. In the early 19th century, American officers were often involved in nation building, in this case their own nation. So that model appeals to many developing nations.

St Cyr is a more elite school, and expects many of its graduates to eventually rise to high positions in the civilian branches of the government. But first, St Cyr graduates get a taste of military life. Many become career officers, and most do quite well.

 


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