The communication of the French armies in the hot seat

(B2) Between the French armies, led by Florence Parly, and the journalists, the gap is widening. The communication of the ministry questioned

Communication during the coronavirus pandemic was often erratic, when it was not incomplete and late – return of the air group on board Charles de Gaulle (credit: DICOD)

Misinformation of the public

The Association of Defense Journalists (AJD), (of which B2 is a member) has decided to publish an open letter, the second in a few weeks. What journalists ask of the ministry is simple: provide information to the public, in a clear, honest and timely manner.

Revealing malfunctions

The dysfunctions are numerous: lack of response in time, arbitrary selection of journalists, pressure exerted when the article (or the question) displeases, lies (deliberate) or not of the communicators...

A political will

It is not a problem, here, of know-how. The army and the minister are well endowed with them. And most are (very) competent. This is indeed a political will to mislead the public through journalists. Let's be clear, we are closer to misinformation. The case of the Covid-19 contamination of the personnel of the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier is just one example among others.

Europe over the shoulder

For our part, we have always been very surprised by the lack of availability of the French Minister for the Armed Forces during meetings of Defense Ministers, whether at European Union or NATO level. The minister is always 'in a hurry'. However, European defense is an official priority. To have an explanation for the decisions taken or the rare press releases (praising the ministerial policy), you have to hang on. Concretely, it is easier today to approach a minister from any country (including the USA) than an unreachable French minister.

An important fact

It should be noted that the AJD does not usually bring this kind of debate to the public square. Its members are rather 'discreet' and 'disciplined', as required by the sector they cover. And if there is an explanation, it usually happens behind closed doors. This public witnessing — the first since the creation of the association in 1979 — should therefore not be neglected, as it is currently. It must be treated seriously, and at the highest level, up to the cabinet of the President of the Republic (Emmanuel Macron), since the cabinet of the Minister of Defense (Florence Parly) seems to consider that it is a peccadillo.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Download the First letter of May 7 and the second letter June 9

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).