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IMPACT DES NTIC

SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN


OPERATIONS
SYNTHESE
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratgique (FRS)
Auteur : Pascale Combelles-Siegel
Avril 2003

Le contenu de cette synthse n'engage que son auteur.

http://www.frstrategie.org

IMPACT DES NTIC

SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATIONS

SYNTHESE

Aujourdhui, les armes doivent faire face et sadapter au dveloppement des


nouvelles technologies de linformation et de la communication. Traditionnellement,
les soldats projets en oprations extrieures (OPEX) vivaient leur mission dans
un relatif isolement, relis larrire et leur famille par le courrier, dont le
service tait lent et pisodique. La gnralisation des tlphones portables et lessor
dInternet ont conduit une dmocratisation et une privatisation des modes de
communication. Dsormais, la hirarchie militaire ne contrle ni le flux, ni le
contenu des informations changes entre lavant et larrire. Outre les risques en
matire de scurit oprationnelle (notamment lie lutilisation des tlphones
portables), la libert (incontrle) de communiquer pourrait gnrer des effets
pervers, notamment en portant atteinte au moral des soldats, mais aussi de larrire.
Ltude se propose dexaminer les modes dutilisation des diffrents moyens de
communication du 35me RI pendant lopration TRIDENT au Kosovo (fvrierjuin 2002) et comment cet usage a affect le moral et lefficacit oprationnelle
des personnels pendant la mission.

LES MODES DE CONSOMMATION DES NTIC


Les communications des soldats projets passent dsormais majoritairement par
des moyens individuels et immdiats, notamment le tlphone. Celui-ci est devenu
le principal moyen de communication avec larrire, devant le courrier (dont
lutilisation reste gnralise et frquente). En revanche, Internet reste un moyen
de communication marginal, peu disponible, difficilement accessible, et donc peu
utilis.
Les modes de consommation rvlent des ingalits importantes daccs et dutilisation, notamment en fonction du grade, du site de rattachement et de lge des
utilisateurs. Les militaires du rang cumulent toutes les difficults pour entrer en
contact rgulirement avec leurs proches.
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IMPACT DES NTIC


SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATION

Les conditions difficiles daccs et dutilisation nempchent pas un emploi frquent


des diffrents moyens disponibles, mais sont juges svrement par lchantillon.
En fait, les qualits techniques (rapidit et fiabilit de la connexion) sont juges
peine satisfaisantes ; les conditions daccs sont juges mauvaises. Mais cest le
cot dutilisation qui gnre la plus grande dsapprobation ; ce dernier tant jug
trs insatisfaisant par une large majorit de lchantillon.
Ces conditions contribuent aussi une mauvaise image de marque de la France
auprs de ses propres soldats. Dans le cadre doprations multinationales comme
au Kosovo au cours desquelles les personnels ctoient dautres armes, parfois
mieux dotes, les soldats font rapidement des comparaisons. Durant lopration
TRIDENT, les hommes du 35me RI avaient le sentiment dappartenir une
arme pauvre et une nation qui nglige ses militaires.

AVANTAGES ET INCONVENIENTS
DE LA PLUS GRANDE LIBERTE DE COMMUNIQUER
La multiplication de moyens privs et en dotation de communication bouleverse
un champ qui tait traditionnellement contrl par linstitution. Avec le courrier
comme seul moyen de communication pendant longtemps, linstitution pouvait
contrler la fois le flux (elle tait matre de la distribution) et le contenu (elle
pouvait intercepter les lettres) des informations changes. La gnralisation des
tlphones (a fortiori avec les portables personnels) rend ces moyens de contrle
caduques.
Les avantages dcoulant dune plus grande libert de communiquer lemportent
largement sur les inconvnients. En effet, lchantillon plbiscite cette libert accrue
de communiquer en affirmant quelle :
amliore le moral des troupes. Ce rsultat est conforme ceux obtenus par
des recherches antrieures (notamment celles de David Segal sur les forces de
maintien de la paix au Sina et des sociologues amricains pendant la guerre
du Vietnam) ;
renforce la cohsion de groupe. Ce rsultat est plus surprenant car les activits
de communication sont par dfinition individualistes ;
augmente lefficacit personnelle.

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IMPACT DES NTIC


SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATION

Sur le plan pratique, la facilitation des communications peut permettre de vhiculer


plus vite et sans contrle de linstitution des nouvelles de nature produire une
rosion du moral :
pour une minorit (entre 1/5 et 1/4 de lchantillon), la plus grande libert de
communication peut accrotre le sentiment de sparation ou le sentiment
disolement vis--vis de la famille ;
pour une minorit, la rception de mauvaises nouvelles peut se traduire par un
sentiment dimpuissance de nature gnrer une rosion du moral ;
cependant, les moyens de communication offrent une possibilit rapide et
efficace de rgler les problmes.

RECOMMANDATIONS
Leffort dquipement en NTIC doit tre poursuivi et acclr. Le dveloppement
dInternet doit tre li la demande et faire lobjet denqute de besoin (le taux
dquipement en France est relativement faible).
On sait que la faible quantit des quipements est en partie due leur cot lev.
Pour pallier ce problme, le ministre devrait tudier la possibilit de recourir
des systmes de donation de la part dentreprises et de collectivits publiques.
Les ingalits daccs et dutilisation doivent tre corriges parce quelles risquent
dengendrer, terme, de srieuses frustrations. Une solution consisterait accorder
tout militaire deux communications gratuites par semaine (dure dterminer), le
reste tant sa charge selon ses moyens et sa disponibilit.
Il est ncessaire de mesurer rgulirement lindice de satisfaction sur les moyens
de communication. Cela devrait faire lobjet de questions incluses dans lenqute
"moral" du Centre des Relations Humaines.
Il est galement indispensable de bien grer les attentes des personnels en dtaillant
ce quoi ils peuvent/doivent sattendre en arrivant sur un thtre doprations ;
en continuant dinformer les soldats sur les ressources dont ils disposent pour les
aider en cas de problme.

!!!!!
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This study examines how soldiers in the French 35me Rgiment dInfanterie (35th
Infantry Regiment) communicated with family during the units (third) deployment
to Kosovo during Operation TRIDENT in February-June 2002. More specifically,
the study examines how different communication technologies and methods
affected individual morale and unit cohesion. Until quite recently, deployments
essentially cut French soldiers off from their home base for the duration of their
mission. Deployed soldiers were only linked to the rear by a slow and irregular
mail system and not necessarily predictable access to telephones. The information
revolution has dramatically altered this reality. During Operation TRIDENT in
Kosovo, for example, many soldiers deployed with (their own) portable phones
and could communicate with their families virtually as they wished. There was
also (at least some) access to the internet, French Army provided telephones for
morale purposes and other official phone systems, in addition to the traditional
mail system.
The French defense staff commissioned this study to gain a perspective on how
these dramatic changes might be affecting personal moral and unit cohesion, and
to identify potential future actions in French military policy due to these changes.
The study builds on a survey of 300 soldiers (both enlisted and officers), conducted
during a week-long visit to the 35me Rgiment dInfanteries home base in
January 2003. The survey had both multiple choice sections and free commentary
sections. The survey response was 100%, as it was an ordered event, although
the researcher strove to emphasis that all responses were anonymous. A large
share wrote substantial commentaries in the survey. The researcher also conducted
interviews with soldiers and officers during that week.

THE CONTEXT
These survey results and their implications for the French Army cannot be
isolated from the context of technological developments and the operational
experience of the surveyed regiment. Re technologies, the portable telephone has
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IMPACT DES NTIC


SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATION

high penetration in France. Internet access is growing, but remains behind that of
the United States. Little of that internet access is currently with wireless systems.
Wireless computing network systems that are likely to emerge in coming years
could change the role of the internet in personal communications just as the
portable telephone has revolutionized them already.
While many of those surveyed had other operational, deployed experience, this
study (and responses) focused on Kosovo operations. By this 2002 deployment,
Kosovo represented a relatively stable and well-established peace support operation
with essentially no active combat operations. Related to portable telephones, the
portable telephone network operates effectively basically throughout the French
sector and uses the same technological system used in France (and essentially all
of Europe). Deployments to more intensive combat operations or areas with
significantly different communications infrastructures could modify some of the
conclusions re this study.

HOW SOLDIERS COMMUNICATE


For the French Army on deployment, the telephone became the primary means
for soldiers to communicate with families and friends. The mail ranked in second
place and remained frequently used, even among the youngest age group. On the
other hand, e-mail use remained marginal. A small minority of soldiers use the
internet as it rarely available difficult to access, and not used by families back in
France.
Consumption patterns revealed important inequalities in access and use. Rank,
age and location were discriminating factors in both access and use. Across the
board, the enlisted had greater difficulties communicating regularly with their
loved ones.
Access limitations, high costs and technical difficulties did not dampen enthusiasm
for various communications technologies. However, soldiers were very critical of
the difficulties and the high cost, and would welcome some improvements in
these arenas. Few considered technical qualities fully satisfactory in government
provided systems, with access too limited and costs prohibitive.

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IMPACT DES NTIC


SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATION

The soldiers negative views were magnified by their perceptions of other


militaries in theater.
The French soldiers viewed other NATO nations (rightly or wrongly this study
did not conduct a cross-NATO survey) as providing more robust communications
for personal use at lower cost to their soldiers. Based on their survey responses,
the personnel of Operation TRIDENT felt like soldiers in a poor Army from a
Nation willing to neglect its men.

COSTS AND BENEFITS OF COMMUNICATING


Military personnel interviewed highly value the increased freedom of communicating that new technologies provided. They think it improves morale, reinforces
group cohesion and increases personal efficiency. The soldiers and officers value
the increased freedom and better access to means of communications. They note,
almost without exception, that this enabled them to reassure families (either
about operational or family events), be engaged in decision-making and give
advice about family issues.
For a minority of personnel, however, increased use of telephone can trigger
negative side effects. For example, a minority experienced increased feelings of
isolation and separation and reported experiencing (a slight) erosion in their
morale when they received bad news.

RECOMMENDATIONS
To capture and expand the benefits that new communications technologies provide
in terms of morale, the French military should:
Improve access to communications tools
! Purchase more equipment (telephones, computers, internet connections)
! Facilitate access (especially computers with internet access)
! Reduce costs (through subsidies, negotiated contracts, otherwise)
Accelerate internet access and connections deployment with forces
! Consider access for morale purposes.
! Examine internet access by soldiers families.

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IMPACT DES NTIC


SUR LE MORAL DES FORCES EN OPERATION

Examine public-partnerships to improve communications


! Consider soldier charity to support morale related communications cost
! Solicit equipment donations (especially computers for morale internet use).
Address access inequalities
! Examine staff / HQ vs. unit access to Army systems for personal use.
! Consider allocation of phone / computer access for personal use to all
personnel.
Revisit satisfaction with communications systems
! Consider inclusion in the Centre de Relations Humaines morale studies.
Continue and reinforce education programs about the Armys support
network and resources.

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