France’s military hires team of sci-fi writers to advise them on future threats

'Red team' of four or five future thinkers will consider strategic consequences of 'disruptive technologies'

Vincent Wood
Saturday 20 July 2019 15:50 BST
France's Bastille Day parade sees 'flying soldier' demonstration

The French military will employ a team of “futurologists and sci-fi writers” to consider future threats to the country and its interests.

The policy from the government’s Defence Innovation Agency will see a small “red team” of future-minded citizens make recommendations to be handed up the chain of command.

In its annual report, the agency said it had “decided to create a ‘Red team’, a cell of four to five people, responsible for proposing scenarios of disruption”.

The report added: “The work of this cell will be to construct valid strategic hypotheses, ie likely to upset the capability plans.

“This unit will be set up by the Defence Innovation Agency and the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy, and will be composed of futurologists and authors of science fiction.”

Their tasks will include “reflecting on the strategic consequences of the arrival of disruptive technologies”.

It comes as the French military looks to modernise its approach to international threats and warfare and follows a show of technological prowess from the French military on its Bastille Day march.

With Emmanuel Macron, the French president, watching on, the military showcased anti-drone guns and a jet powered “hoverboard” flown by its inventor, Franky Zapata.

Mr Macron shared a video of the inventor’s flight, saying that he was “proud of our army, modern and innovative”.

On top of the technologies on display, the French military is believed to be looking at deploying robots to support its soldiers in Mali – with experiments currently underway.

French Army soldiers hold anti-drone guns during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris
French Army soldiers hold anti-drone guns during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris (REUTERS)

Earlier this month, Mr Macron launched the nation’s “space command”, a new unit announced a year after Donald Trump, the US president, raised fears of creeping militarisation beyond Earth.

Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Mr Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites.

In 2017, Paris said it suspected Russia was trying to intercept secret communications when it flew a spy probe close to a European satellite 22,000 miles above the Earth.

“To give substance to this doctrine and ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a space command will be created next September in the air force,” Mr Macron said, adding that it would later become the Space and Air Force.

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

It is not believed to be the first time science fiction writers have been drafted in by military powers.

Following the 11 September attacks in New York, sci-fi writers were reportedly brought in by the CIA to help brainstorm future strategic scenarios due to a US government belief the agency had lacked the imagination required to predict the attack.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in