About us

Founded in 2009, the Institute for Strategic Research of the Ecole Militaire (IRSEM) is a research-oriented institution, albeit external, tied to the  Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS) operating under the umbrella of the Ministry for the Armed Forces.

The IRSEM is home to a staff of about forty civilian and military permanent researchers. Another 10 members can be added when counting postdoctoral and doctoral residents, interns, and students employed through “youth military contracts” (CAJ).

Four main goals guide the work carried out at the IRSEM:

1) Research. The IRSEM’s members are sent all over the world to conduct fieldwork. Its experts operate on two distinct levels: a) internal research following the needs formulated by the Ministry of Defence; b) external research intended for the wider trategic community, and published via multiple academic outlets, such as the self-styled “Collections de l’IRSEM”, peer-reviewed books and journals. Publications are available both in French and in English.

2) “Strategic Takeover.” The Institute seeks to foster the emergence of a new generation of researchers specialised in security and defence issues. To do so, the IRSEM regularly coordinates the work of PhD candidates via its monthly seminars at the Ecole Militaire, as well as allocates grants and financial assistance directly to postdoctoral contracts. Moreover, younger researchers can benefit from the Institute’s extensive network. Since its foundation, the Institute has supported more than a hundred researchers in accordance to its “Strategic Takeover” program.

3) Improving academia in security and defence through the organisation of courses at the École de Guerre (War College) and at the Centre for Higher Military Studies (CHEM). Interns working for these institutions also benefit from the IRSEM staff’s mentoring skills as they often supervise the research papers of said interns.

4) Enriching the current dialogue. The IRSEM regularly organises conferences in France and abroad. Official publications as well as research papers are available in multiple formats and languages (French and English). On top of this, researchers often influence media commentary positively through their appearances.

To achieve its goals, the IRSEM can count on its effective hybrid identity: 

- On the one hand, the Institute displays a strong academic dimension. This academic dimension is clearly visible among the academic requirements defined in the ministerial order on the framework of the IRSEM. Indeed, new members are expected to show previous academic experience according to their positions. For example, its scientific director must simultaneously be a university Lecturer. While PhDs are required for permanent civilian researchers, field study directors must own an additional accreditation to supervise research (Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches - French post-doctoral degrees enable academics to supervise PhD students). Other researchers are strongly encouraged to acquire their “HDR, while several are currently underway.  Furthermore, its staff have recently been bolstered through recruiting a full-time university Associate Professor and a part-time research director affiliated to the CNRS. Additionally, almost all of the IRSEM’s researchers teach at university. Some contribute to scientific articles journals or peer-reviewed articles while others also publish their work in renowned academic outlets, both in English and in French. Others also organise and attend international conferences such as the annual congress of the International Studies Association (ISA). In 2020, a team composed of the IRSEM researchers was awarded funding for the first time from the French research agency, the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR). Moreover, the IRSEM hosts a monthly doctoral seminar, attended by approximately thirty doctoral students. Each year, three post-doctoral students are carefully selected to receive proper funding for their research. Likewise, the IRSEM is also providing articles for the scientific journal, Les Champs de Mars, published by the well-known Presses de Sciences Po. Naturally, those submitted articles undergo a meticulous and strict procedure (double-blind peer review). More generally, the IRSEM’s Scientific Council is in charge of reviewing the academic quality of any research published by fellow members. Among its members are seven esteemed academics, originating both from France and abroad. Finally, over the last few years, several former IRSEM researchers have been employed as Research officers at the CNRS and as Professors and Associate Professors at international universities.

This clearly indicates that the IRSEM is first and foremost a university research centre, rather than a regular think-tank. Considering its connection to the Ministry for the Armed Forces, the Institute is not subject to the private law structure. As such, the IRSEM should not officially be seen as a think tank.

- On the other hand, there is no doubt that the IRSEM displays a clear operational purpose. As a matter of fact, the Institute has many military figures among its ranks. Moreover, several civilian researchers have also had prior experiences in the military. The Institute carries any research-related tasks requested internally by the Ministry. In turn, the analysis provided does not only benefit the DGRIS but also the Armed Forces Staff (EMA) as well as other services. On a more practical level, the IRSEM organises selective seminars and Wargaming workshops, while participating in ministerial and interministerial working groups. On top of this, the Institute contributes to defence diplomacy by regularly receiving foreign delegations and carrying out missions throughout the world. The institute fully assumes this policy-oriented dimension, which is reflected in most of its internal and external publications. As a result, this allows the IRSEM’s publications to cover a large readership, including important leaders.

At the crossroads between the academic realm and defence world, the IRSEM benefits from a relatively unique hybrid identity. This hybrid identity does not come without its challenges, as tensions sometimes arise between two different perceptions. While expectations can be different and sometimes contradictory, this cross-sectoral and mutually enriching cooperation allows for unique performances. In a mindset of close cooperation, the IRSEM’s current management policy is to “academise” and to operationalise the institute. Thanks to this method, the IRSEM’s goal is to contribute to the emergence of War Studies in France:

 

Being a Ministry of Defence research institute, acting as the interface between Defence and academia, the IRSEM is naturally at the heart of this dynamic which aims to establish a War Studies network in France. It needs to be the cornerstone of this. Its raison d’être and its added value is precisely its positioning at the intersection of two worlds: that of the Minister of Defence and that of academic research. Being well positioned, the institute can satisfy the two objectives required by it hybridity: be useful to the Minister and respected by academia. This is my aspiration. Being badly positioned, it would satisfy neither of them, be too much on the outside to be useful to the inside, too much on the inside to be respected by the outside. Based on this observation and to keep the continuity of this movement that was initiated before my arrival, I have two objectives: on the one hand to “academize” the IRSEM, that is to make it more scientifically credible, more visible and more attractive for the CNRS and universities; on the other hand “operationalise” the IRSEM, that is to make the IRSEM more useful to the Minister of Defence and therefore more influential, more respected. A common error is to think that these two objectives are incompatible, that asserting one necessarily means that the other is one is refuted and that a choice has to be made: “academizing” would automatically mitigate how useful we are and operationalising would diminish our scientific quality. However, one does not actually impede the other (…). They complement each other and in the specific case of the IRSEM, they are both necessary”.

(Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, « L’IRSEM évolue », La Lettre de l’IRSEM, special edition,15 September 2016, p. 3) ».

To know more :

Lettre de l’IRSEM, édition spéciale du 15 septembre 2016

Lettre de l’IRSEM, édition spéciale du 22 septembre 2017

— J.-V. Holeindre et J.-B. Jeangène Vilmer, « Pour des War Studies en France : un diagnostic et des propositions », Revue Défense Nationale, n° 785, december 2015, p. 53-59.

— J.-B. Jeangène Vilmer, « Le tournant des études sur la guerre en France », Revue Défense Nationale, n° 800, may 2017, p. 51-61.

— J.-V. Holeindre et J.-B. Jeangène Vilmer, « La revue des études sur la guerre et la paix », Les Champs de Mars. Revue d’études sur la guerre et la paix, n° 29, 2017, p. 5-12.

— J.-B. Jeangène Vilmer, « La relève stratégique : les jeunes chercheurs de l’IRSEM », Revue Défense Nationale, n°826, january 2020, p. 13-20.

 

Equipe IRSEM 2019

 

Our History

While its de facto creation dates back to September 2009, the IRSEM was officially founded through the 15 October 2010 order. At that time, it was decided that the IRSEM would be formed by reassembling four research centres tied to the Ministry for the Armed Forces into one. Among them were the former:

- Centre d’Études en Sciences Sociales de la Défense - C2SD, 1995-2010), previously known as the Centre de Sociologie de la Défense Nationale (CSDN, 1969-1995)

- Centre d’Études d’Histoire de la Défense (CEHD, 1994-2010)

- Centre d’Études et de Recherches de l’Enseignement Militaire Supérieur (CEREMS, 2001-2010)

- Research Department of the Centre des Hautes Études de l’Armement (CHEAr, 1964-2010). However, its training department has been redirected to the IHEDN in order to host its "Armament and economy of defence" program.

Initially operated by the Chief of Defence (COD, Deputy chief of human resources), IRSEM’s overseership has been taken over by Direction Générale des Relations Internationales et de la Stratégie (DGRIS) since 2015. The DGRIS had then been operating for only a few months before its Department for Defence Strategy, Counter Proliferation and Strategic Foresight (DSPC) started managing the Institute.

In February 2016, the IRSEM moved into the fully renovated infrastructure hosting the Ecole Militaire, where it operates within the walls of the building 33.

In January 2019, the IRSEM launched its new website.

 

→ See the press release dated 16/01/2019

In January 2019, the IRSEM inaugurated its podcast : Le Collimateur.

→ See the press release dated 29/01/2019

 

Changes in our management team :

  • Directors : Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer became the IRSEM’s new director on 15 June 2016. Before this date, the IRSEM had been directed by Frederic Charillon, a professor of political science at the University of Clermont-Ferrand. Charillon had held this position ever since the creation of the Institute.

  • General secretaries : General Jean-Claude Beyer (2009-2010), General André Var, General Jérôme de Tarlé, Commander Jean-François Morel (2013-2015), Army Inspector Marie-Noëlle Quiot (2016-2017), General Commissioner Étienne Vuillermet (since September 2017).

  • Scientific directors : Frédéric Ramel, Professor of political science at the University Paris-11 and later at Sciences Po (2009-2013); Thierry Balzacq, Professor of political science at the University of Namur (2014-2016); and Jean-Vincent Holeindre, Professor of political science at the University of Poitiers and since 2016, University Paris-2 Panthéon-Assas.

Remodelling of our logo :

logo IRSEM 2009-2016 logo IRSEM fond transparent
2009 - 2016 Since september 2016

 

Presentation booklet: 

Presentation Irsem Article Vignette


France Article Demi Colonne Plaquette de présentation en français (pdf)

United Kingdom Article Demi Colonne Introduction booklet (pdf)

 

 

Activity report

La Lettre Annee 2019  Annual report 2019 (pdf)

 

La Lettre Annee 2018 Annual report 2018 (pdf)

 

La Lettre Annee 2017 Annual report 2017 (pdf)

 

La Lettre Annee 2016 Annual report 2016 (pdf)

 

 

Reforming IRSEM : 2 years of operation (2016-2018)

 

La reforme de l'IRSEMReforming the IRSEM (FR only) (pdf)

Indeed, new members are expected to show previous academic experience according to their positions. For example, its scientific director must simultaneously be a university Lecturer. While PhDs are required for permanent civilian researchers, field study directors must own an additional accreditation to supervise research (Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches - French post-doctoral degrees enable academics to supervise PhD students). Other researchers are strongly encouraged to acquire their“HDR, while several are currently underway.  Furthermore,its staff have recently been bolstered through recruiting a full-time university Associate Professor and a part-time research director affiliated to the CNRS. Additionally, almost all of the IRSEM’s researchers teach at university. Some contribute to scientific articles journals or peer-reviewed articles while others also publish their work in renowned academic outlets, both in English and in French. Others also organise and attend international conferences such as the annual congress of the International Studies Association (ISA). In 2020, a team composed of the IRSEM researchers was awarded funding for the first time from the French research agency, the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR). Moreover, the IRSEM hosts a monthly doctoral seminar, attended by approximately thirty doctoral students. Each year, three post-doctoral students are carefully selected to receive proper funding for their research. Likewise, the IRSEM is also providing articles for the scientific journal,