Strategic Signaling: A Lever for France in the Competition Between Powers? Focus stratégique, No 114, May 2023
From the joint and combined Orion 2023 exercice to the deployment of Leclerc tanks in Romania, through the qualification fire of new missiles, the French armed forces conduct many manoeuvres and activities that are now described as falling under the "strategic signaling".
This concept, resulting from nuclear deterrence, describes a way to spread a strategic message designed at the highest level of government, using several levers, of which military action is one of the main ones. Properly handled, strategic signaling demonstrates France's willingness and credibility to defend its interests and those of its partners. It also allows to modulate the action and reaction of the competitor by avoiding crossing the threshold of the conflictuality, and is part of a broader approach of influence, essential in a perspective of a multi domain integrated action.
However, in order to be effective, that is to say correctly perceived by allies and opponents, this strategic signaling must be in line with the resources available to France, and with a coherent strategy that is still struggling to be defined over the long term. In addition, there is a need to ensure greater fluidity in the design and conduct of signaling, which is still sometimes confused with simple operational communication. Finally, to verify that the message has been understood and has had an impact, it is essential to engage in reflection on the feedback, particularly through the intelligence services.