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04 May 17. French presidential candidate pushes for stronger intel links with US. Emmanuel Macron will launch a strategic review of French defense and security, if the centrist independent candidate wins the presidential election Sunday, his military adviser Jean-Paul Palomeros said May 4. Palomeros retired in 2015 from active service, having served as head of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation unit in Norfolk, Virginia, and chief of the French Air Force. Such is the importance of Macron’s campaign, former U.S. president Barack Obama said in a video of support for the French candidate: “The success of France matters to the entire world,” Obama said. Macron tweeted the video, which was posted on the website of his political movement En Marche, or On the Move. Other priorities of Macron include spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2025, as targeted by all NATO members, and setting up a counter-terrorism task force, Palomeros told the defense journalists association. France presently spends some 1.6 or 1.7 percent, excluding pensions. A major factor in forming that task force will be closer intelligence links with the U.S.
“That is a key issue,” he said.
America shares intelligence with Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand under the longstanding “five eyes” agreement, while France seeks to gain greater access to data in its bid to fight terrorist attacks, French media have reported. NATO’s role is collective defense, but there is debate whether to extend that approach to security and, by extension, fighting terrorism, he said. Macron is ready for a close dialog to improve the counter terrorist fight in the south of Europe. That anti-terrorist subject will likely be debated at the May 25 NATO summit at Brussels, addressing the question of whether the alliance is obsolete. President Donald Trump is due to attend that meeting.
The planned defense and security review would be published by the end of the year, reflecting a high priority, he said.
“We need a strategic analysis. The world has changed, will continue to change. We need a look 10-25 years out, not five years of administration,” he said, adding that present arms programs are reaching maturity, and now is the time to look ahead to address issues such as artificial intelligence and digital technology. Future threats will likely include supersonic and hypersonic systems, he said.
Those future responses should be viewed on a domestic, European and NATO basis, and should draw on the “brilliant” work done by Air Force Gen. Denis Mercier at the NATO Allied Command Transformation, he said.
Another priority for Macron would be pursuit of a strong European defense.
“That’s the chance we have today,” he said. “There’s a sort of European moment, we should not miss it.”
Germany committed in 2013 to a stronger defense policy and is a key partner for closer European cooperation, especially as Britain is pulling out of the European Union under the Brexit plan, he said. Macron has visited Germany, forging closer ties between Paris and Berlin.
“To launch European defense at the political level, it is necessary to go further at the level of integration of our defense policy and create a real ‘defense zone,’” said Jean-Pierre Maulny deputy director of think tank Institute de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques.
A major Brexit concern is that Europe will suffer a loss of British capability and know-how, which will not be easily replaced, Palomeros said. Britain and France have close bilateral ties through the 2010 Lancaster house treaty but there “could be knock-on effects,” he said, adding “there could be a Brexit victim of collateral damage.”
There are bilateral operational, capability and industrial commitments, but uncertainly remains.
“Much depends on the typ