During May, the French-American Cultural Foundation (F-ACF) hosted an intimate gathering to honor the Washington, D.C. visit of General Michel Friedling, the director of France’s Space Command.
While a military presence in space is a relatively new concept — America’s own Space Force was founded in 2019 — France formed its Space Command in 2010. NASA, the U.S. civilian space agency, was created in 1958 and has a long history of productive partnerships with France.
Friedling was in the Nation’s Capital to meet with his American counterparts. In March, France held its first military exercises in space to test the ability to defend its satellites, a critical component of national infrastructure. As Friedling has previously commented, “In France, when it comes to space, we don’t use the term ‘deterrence’ but rather the word ‘discourage.’”
F-ACF was joined by two retired American generals, General David Maddox, former commander U.S. Army Europe, and General John Jumper, a former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force (as such a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). Jumper and Maddox had last seen one another during the 1994 Normandy commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
Naturally, the conversation focused on issues involving the national security implications of space, as well as the close cooperation between the United States and France in the responsible uses of the cosmos.
F-ACF is currently planning a fall symposium to focus on the October 31 launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope aboard a French Ariane rocket — an historical and tangible illustration of the strength and importance of the Transatlantic relationship. Additional details will be shared soon.