As highlighted by the French Chief of Defence Staff (CEMA) in his strategic vision, the changing international context requires us to envisage the nature of future operations in a three-phase continuum of competition-contest-conflict. “Exercise ORION 2023” is the first exercise in what French Joint Forces Command hopes will be a triennial cycle of exercises aimed at reinforcing joint forces operational readiness.
ORION is based on a scenario developed by NATO to apprehend the different phases of a modern conflict and will be on a scale unprecedented in recent decades. It aims to train the French armed forces within a multinational joint forces framework, with the goal of refocusing the armed forces and their various branches and administrative levels on a joint, multi-domain (MDO) exercise in a contested environment. The exercise will also involve an inter-ministerial perspective extending beyond purely military concerns. So, one of the major training themes of ORION 23 will be the coordination of assets and effects over the full spectrum of operations, in order to tackle these hybrid strategies. For example, as a joint forces inter-ministerial exercise, ORION will bring together the energies of civilian and military personnel working on the cohesion of the French nation and on France’s resilience in the face of the challenges presented by an international context of growing instability. The integration of our Allies in the exercise reinforces the credibility of the defence alliance, while demonstrating France’s capability to engage as a leading coalition partner. Several international partners (United States, United Kingdom, Spain etc.) have confirmed that they are taking part in the various phases of the exercise. This multinational dimension will enable every branch of French command to integrate allied units and optimize interoperability with them.
This exercise will directly help to demonstrate France’s role as a major force for balance, able to commit to the defence of its own interests and to live up to its ambitions by engaging its effective participation in any actions that the Alliance may take in response a crisis. In this respect, the exercise will enable France to position itself as one of the few European nations able to summon this level of expertise in the operational planning and conduct of large-scale military exercises.
Exercise ORION will also enable the various branches of the French armed forces to maintain their response capability and their capacity to meet the demands of their operational contract. It will integrate around twenty training exercises (AsterX,, DEFNET, POLARIS etc.) that are normally conducted separately by the armed forces. Consequently, the training will gain in density, with greater realism and higher intensity, while reducing the logistic workload and achieving economies of scale.