How Emmanuel Chiva is preparing the DGA for the challenge

How Emmanuel Chiva is preparing the DGA for the challenge of the war economy

Emmanuel Chiva, the man who came from elsewhere (normalien), will he win his bet to naturally put himself at the head of the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), which until now has considered him a UFO? At the request of the Head of State and Armed Forces Emmanuel Macron, he presented his roadmap to transform the DGA to be more reactive in order to deal with possible future crises and conflicts of increasingly intense nature. A scenario that has regained credibility given today’s highly uncertain geopolitical environment. “It’s not just a matter of adapting to today’s conditions, but of developing a lasting adaptability,” assessed the general delegate for armaments on Wednesday when presenting his wishes.

“The effort required by the nation obliges us. It commits us to global transformation over time. The President of the Republic mentioned it on Friday when he spoke of a “war economy that is not a permanent emergency”. This is a sustainable transformation of our model. It affects the DGA, but also our industry, which has been given unique visibility into budgets and programs for 10 years with this LPM (defense program law, editor’s note),” he said.

What exactly does the President of the Republic want? During his speech in Mont-de-Marsan, Emmanuel Macron called for the DGA and the armies to organize themselves to “shorten acquisition cycles, speed up the expression of needs, drastically reduce normative constraints, innovate in the use of real Users” (. ..), “as our Ukrainian friends also give us such a beautiful example. We can do things much faster, much better and sometimes at a lower cost if we know how to bring together those who use and innovate .” Except that Ukraine is in absolute urgency, France is not. But it is true that it was time to think about simplifying the management of armaments programs that are subject to far too many constraints (standards, specifications, procurement speed, etc.).

Transform without breaking

Emmanuel Chiva did not come up with a miracle solution or a revolution up his sleeve to transform the DGA, a very valuable instrument for France, which has proven itself and whose technical know-how and management of large complex programs are envied abroad. “Transform without destroying what works,” assured the general delegate for armaments on Wednesday when presenting his wishes. A ceremony that began with a tribute to General Defense Engineer René Audran, who was assassinated by Action Directe on January 25, 1985 for his position as director of international development (arms exports).

However, it was imperative, even imperative, to adapt the DGA and therefore its organization (more than 10,000 civilian and military personnel) so that it is both more responsive and agile to face this new world where conflicts are multiplying (Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh…) and where technological leaps (AI, quantum, weapons with directed effects…) are extremely fast. The adjustments requested by the General Delegate for Armor appear to be on the fringes of common sense. We will of course measure this adaptation of the DGA against its results. Because it is above all the men who let a team win, and not necessarily a new organization that can contribute to the achievement of goals solely on the condition of the cohesion of human resources. And like any organization, the DGA naturally has scope to become “simpler and more efficient”.

A tightening of responsibilities

The goal is clearly to transform the DGA from a model designed for use in peacetime to one that must re-tension the men and the organization to address a spectrum of more or less harsh conflicts place. However, France is not at war and therefore French industry is far, very far from being in a war economy organization. Moreover, last year the major defense concerns did not receive any new additional orders, except for those provided for in the LPM 2019-2025 – or really marginally (a couple of Mistral missiles) – to replenish ammunition stocks, but at least in the year three armies. The future LPM must therefore sound the ambition to find supplies for the operational challenges (training and operations) of the French armies.

But governing also means anticipating. “It’s about proactively projecting ourselves into the future. The DGA plays a key role in this project,” says the DGA. It is not wrong. It must therefore both continue to follow the existing (approximately 300 billion euros in programs launched) and anticipate new needs, imperatively adapting them to new disruptive technologies such as quantum, the mother of all technological battles. It must also – which it is already doing – “open up to its state and industrial partners”. In this context, the Operations department becomes the Operations, MCO (Maintenance in Operational Condition) and Digital departments.

Within this directorate, the DGA wants to create a rapid acquisition force. “It will participate in the pursuit of the goal set by the Head of State to shorten the length of acquisition cycles and, where necessary, to make rapid purchases off the shelf,” he explained. This development, which is already possible in the context of operational emergency procurement, especially for special forces, will only be possible “at the expense of a certain risk”. This is already the case with the Colibri and Larinae (remotely controlled or stray munitions) programs launched by the Defense Innovation Agency (AID), which Emmanuel Chiva led before he took over as director of the DGA. “We will work with the emergency services to better bear this risk together, divided between the specialist authority and the labor authority. For this purpose, among other things, the technical department will become the Engineering and Expertise department in order to pool all our know-how,” he specified.


In addition to its main task of supplying the armies, the DGA, directed by Emmanuel Chiva, has four other tasks that are considered priority. It must give France the capacity for strategic technological and industrial anticipation. “It is up to the DGA to enlighten the Federal Ministry of Defense through the technical-scientific glasses about possible breaks and the possibilities of reacting to them,” explained the head of the DGA. Including in the sphere of influence, which clarifies the concept of conflict hybridity. In particular, it must “achieve a cycle of innovation, experimentation and rapid scaling that is able to keep up with the accelerating pace of change
technological”. The DGA will rely on the Defense Technical-Operational Analysis Center (CATOD) to develop its activities and make it a reference center for simulation and wargaming.

Third mission: The DGA must promote a “pragmatic approach to cooperation” and support exports. Five years later, the results of Franco-German cooperation are disappointing: programs abandoned by the Germans (modernization of the Tiger, development of a new missile, maritime patrol aircraft) and programs that are slipping (SCAF and MGCS). Not to mention the agreements in the space sector that were torn up by the Germans (Schwering Agreement). It is time France found other partners, like the countries mentioned by the President in his greetings to the armies: India, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Greece, Italy and Spain, with which cooperation on the field is very poor ended submarines (Naval Group/Navantia). Finally, the intergovernmental agreement between Belgium and France under the CAMO treaty “has shown all its interest and should be an inspiration for other partnership opportunities”. This type of agreement has never been used again.

A BITD under surveillance

Emmanuel Chiva knows the BITD very well. He comes from there (Agueris) after founding many startups. He won’t back down, but the fight will be tough to move this powerful defense industry marred by years of shortages and random sampling. “In addition to its accompanying and supporting role, the DGA can carry out a monitoring mission for our BITD. Just as banks carry out stress tests, we will also carry out ramp-up tests to check whether the entire production chain can react to the accelerations that may be necessary,” he had already declared at the end of November to the National Assembly.

On Wednesday, the BITD learned how the DGA wanted to tighten the screw. Emmanuel Chiva would like the new Defense Industry Department, which brings together the Economic Intelligence and Industrial Affairs Service and the Quality Service, to carry out “an in-depth analysis” of the structural costs of the BITD in order to find ways to permanently reduce the acquisition and support costs “. That promises a nice fight. Because the unit prices of the materials must “reflect the increase in the quantities ordered”, which is permitted by the credits dedicated to the new LPM. For the time being, the manufacturers are still waiting for further orders. This new management will ensure the strategic direction of the BITD, including the maintenance and development of existing and future areas.

In addition, the Ministry of Defense estimates that the Ministry’s financial expenditure in favor of the MCO does not lead to sufficient results in terms of equipment availability. Florence Parly had seen it too, as had her predecessors. But it tackled this problem head-on by launching a major reform that is beginning to bear fruit. Sébastien Lecornu wants to continue this effort by tightening the screws on the manufacturers who use it to inflate their margins thanks to the MCO. “This is in line with the mandate given to me yesterday (Tuesday) by the Minister for the Armed Forces to engage in negotiations with manufacturers in the MCO sector, together with the EMA (Army Staff) and the support services, to help its efficiency and control to improve overall costs”, explained Emmanuel Chiva. Nothing really new…

deterrence and cyber

Last mission assigned to the DGA: maintaining nuclear deterrence at a robust level and developing the cyber capacity of the Ministry of Armed Forces for the benefit of France. With this in mind, Emmanuel Chiva is creating a post of Assistant Deterrent reporting directly to him. Within the Department of Operations, MCO and Digital, a Deterrence Operations Division has been established to consolidate all deterrence-related activities. In the cyber field, the DGA, which together with the ANSSI is one of the most important centers of technical competence in the state, must contribute to the development of the French cyber sector.

Michael Cabirol