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Defense factory: the French event is tinged with an essential touch of Europe

(B2 in Paris) On January 17 and 18, La Fabrique Défense was held in Paris. Around this major event aimed at raising young people's awareness of defense and security issues, nearly 80 meetings took place all over France but also in ten European countries.

The conferences mobilized speakers who are generally specialized in their fields. (©B2/Romain Mielcarek)

What is La Fabrique Défense?

Announced with great fanfare by the Minister of the Armed Forces and carried by institutional communication, this event passes for a bit of a UFO. Even among the participants, we did not always know on which foot to dance. Many wondered about the profile of the public. Some were surprised at the scale of the main event in Paris, noticing a significant number of visitors, beyond initial hopes. Others glared at each other, blaming each other for taking advantage of the opportunity to recruit. The objective, summarizes Nicolas Bronard, executive at the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS) and head of the Fabrique Défense project, is to " dialogue with young people to whom we do not speak or to whom we no longer speak ". 154 public and private actors offered workshops, conferences and other board games, both to encourage vocations and to raise awareness among a sometimes distant public about these subjects.

A mandatory touch of Europe

Much less publicized than the great Parisian raout, meetings took place in ten European countries(1), mainly in the form of conferences and debates. A mandatory dimension to carry the good word of the government on the " european strategic culture ". Various partners have come forward to offer activities, more or less marked by their respective professions. The Intelligence College in Europe, for example, insisted on this specialty, while the Young IHEDNs opted for conferences more oriented towards international relations... And followed by essential afterworks.

Trial run

« We were careful because the deadline was constrained, explains Nicolas Bronnard. We tried not to be too ambitious. The European aspect, however essential it may be, has thus depended a great deal on the good will of local actors, whether institutional, private or associative. The organizer is nevertheless satisfied: out of 14 young participants registered, 500 were interested in activities in the regions and neighboring countries. Above all, a good part of them were far from the usual defense community and came curious.

See you in two years

The Defense Factory is to be held again in 2022. The Ministry of the Armed Forces has already promised to organize these meetings every two years, alternating with the Defense Innovation Forum, another pillar of government communication, initiated in 2018. The budget of around one million euros for this first edition turns out, according to the organizers, to be the most correct: a good part of the partners have contributed by making sites, equipment and many others available. means. They therefore say they are satisfied with the quality-price ratio of this first experience.

(Romain Mielcarek)

(1) List of countries where meetings took place within the framework of the Defense Factory: United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Croatia.

Romain Mielcarek

Romain Mielcarek is a defense and international journalist. Correspondent of B2 in Paris, he also collaborates with DSI, RFI and Le Monde Diplomatique. Holder of a doctoral thesis in information and communication sciences, he also conducts academic research on military influence. His latest book: "Arms dealers, a French business" (Tallandier, 2017).