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departure of the head of French military intelligence seven months after his appointment

  General Eric Vidaud, during the special operations forces innovation network seminar, in Martignas-sur-Jalle (Gironde), July 1, 2021.

General Eric Vidaud, head of the Military Intelligence Directorate (DRM), left office on Wednesday March 30. This departure, revealed on Wednesday by opinionand confirmed at World by the General Staff, takes place against the background of the reorganization of this service. It also comes after the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Thierry Burkhard, publicly regretted, notably in an interview with the World on March 6, the differences of opinion between French and Anglo-Saxon intelligence.

“The Americans said the Russians were going to attack, they were right. Our services rather thought that the conquest of Ukraine would have a monstrous cost and that the Russians had other options” to bring down the regime of Volodymyr Zelensky, he then detailed. A finding that the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces had notably reiterated, on March 7, during an intervention before the Center for a New American Security, an influential American think tank.

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As part of the reorganization of the DRM, often isolated from the powerful Directorate General for External Security (DGSE), General Vidaud was to change jobs in the summer. But he decided to rush his departure. Before taking over as head of military intelligence as part of an unexpected musical chairs movement, General Vidaud had held, from 2019 to 2021, the very strategic position of special operations commander.

Previously, this former commander of the 1er marine infantry parachute regiment (1er RPIMa), had spent a long time in the cabinet of former Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian where, from 2012 to 2017, he had been head of the reserved office. A post again very sensitive, which gives a good overview of relations with the intelligence services.

“Gradual Revelations”

The will of the Chief of Defense Staff to review the way of working of the DRM, which was already engaged in a major movement of transformation before the war in Ukraine, in particular under the effect of an increase in its workforce, s Moreover, he is part of a war in which the way of communicating between staffs and intelligence services has rapidly changed. The United States and the British, in particular, have made the choice, over the months, to regularly broadcast the highlights collected by their services. A method of “gradual revelations” on Vladimir Putin’s intentions which undoubtedly disrupted Moscow’s tactical ambitions, partially exposing them.

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