Leadership: French Improve Their Game


August 5, 2008: As part of a new round of defense reform programs, France is reorganizing its intelligence agencies (all nine of them, employing nearly 13,000 employees). The most important change is that the intel organizations will report to the president, rather than the prime minister.

In the French form of government, the president is similar to the American president. One big difference is that the president appoints a prime minister, who actually runs the government. There is no equivalent to this in the United States, although the French prime minister operates in a similar fashion to those found in most parliamentary governments.

Since the French president already takes care of most of the "big picture" stuff, and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, having the intelligence community reporting directly to the president makes sense. The French want to make their intel agencies more effective against Islamic terrorists, and new threats, like Internet based attacks. 

The French intelligence bureaucracy is already undergoing a reorganization, and this year merged two of eleven intelligence organizations into another (the Ministry of the Interior used to have three intelligence agencies, now it has one). No details were released on what organizational changes the new reshuffle will have. French intel operatives have a good reputation, and have been very effective against Islamic terrorists. But apparently, intel officials are aware of a large number of close calls, and want to improve their capability to reduce the risk from growing Islamic radicalism.





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