On July 22, the French armies will acquire a new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMA) and it is General Thierry Burkhard, 56, who must officially assume the function, replacing General François Lecointre. , in office since 2017. A long-awaited handover in defense circles, as the presidential campaign looms and global strategic competition continues to sharpen in all areas.
If the appointment of General Lecointre had largely been a solution of circumstance – he had found himself propelled to the head of the armies following the resignation of his predecessor, General Pierre de Villiers -, the handover with Thierry Burkhard appears this time the result of a carefully matured choice. As much the fruit of a broad consensus within the military institution as of an Elysian choice of a personality having, on paper, everything to fit without hindrance into the Macronian political software.
Pure product of military meritocracy
The one who was until then Chief of Staff of the Army is a pure product of military meritocracy. Originally from Delle, a village of 5,000 inhabitants in the Territoire de Belfort, and from a relatively modest background – his father was notably a teacher in a vocational high school -, Thierry Burkhard nevertheless followed the royal course to reach the highest positions. . Starting with its essential gateway: Saint-Cyr, Cadets of Free France promotion (1985-1988).
Thierry Burkhard then chose the infantry, and it was in the Legion that he spent a good part of his operational career. In particular at the prestigious “2e REP ”on 2e foreign parachute regiment, located in Calvi, Corsica. He was notably head of the parachute commando section. And it is with the 2e REP that it finds itself projected in Guyana, in ex-Yugoslavia, in Chad or in Gabon. It was also with this regiment that he took part in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 during the First Gulf War in Iraq.
Of Protestant culture, Thierry Burkard is undoubtedly, from corroborating sources, the first chief of staff of the armies not to be of the catholic confession within an institution where the faith is not a marginal subject. However, the general maintains absolute discretion on this point, as on that of his social origins, considering, like many in the armies, that military clothing and values prevail above all. The illustration of a tenacity which would have ended up making the difference, estimate a certain number of interlocutors.
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