A Russian offensive against Kiev reportedly led to the dismissal of the French general in military intelligence.
French leaders have decided to replace Directorate of Military Intelligence head (DRM), according to national media reports on Wednesday, citing sources. General Eric Vidaud was fired just seven months after getting the job, allegedly for being blindsided by Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Vidaud became the military intelligence chief this summer. Vidaud was previously the head of French Special Operations Command (COS), and was credited for the June 2020 killing of Al-Qaeda’s leader in the Islamic Maghreb.
According to French media, the general’s short tenure at the helm of military intelligence was ended by the mismanagement of the Ukraine crisis and the government’s intention to drastically reorganize the agency in the wake of Russia’s attack against Kiev in late February.
The termination was first reported by the newspaper L’Opinion and later covered by other outlets, including Agence France-Presse (AFP). They also cited people who were aware of the circumstances.
According to AFP, rumors about Vidaud’s imminent resignation were circulating in the French military for several days. While some expected Vidaud would be offered another top-ranking post, it appears that the general is taking a major career risk.
Earlier this month, the chief of staff of the French Army, General Thierry Burkhard, told Le Monde that French intelligence failed to predict Russia’s military operation, unlike their American counterparts.
One source cited by AFP suggested that sacking the DRM chief over Ukraine was not particularly reasonable, because the agency’s job is to assess military capabilities, not the intentions of foreign governments – and the agency correctly said Russia had the means to attack Ukraine.
“We can’t boil this change of leadership down to the Ukrainian situation alone. It is also about reorganizing the service,”The source stated.
According to the news agency the Ukraine crisis forces the French government into a rethink on how it handles military intelligence. According to an expert cited by AFP, the agency that supplies it with intelligence will be more important as a future geopolitical tool.
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