Jefferson Morley | October 12, 2018
France: General Board of External Security (DGSE)
The Direction Générale De La Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) has focused its efforts on counterterrorism since a string of terror attacks in Paris in 2015.
France has also stationed many intelligence officers in Africa, which became apparent in 2016 when three DGSE agents were killed in a helicopter crash in Libya. The DGSE also concluded that Russia sought to influence France’s 2017 presidential elections by generating social media support for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Some French operations have caused controversy. In 1985, the service was implicated in the sinking of the environmentalist ship Rainbow Warrior that was protesting French nuclear testing off of New Zealand. Bombs planted by French agents sank the ship and killed one crew member. In 2012, a French mission to save a hostage in Somalia led to the death of the hostage and two agents
The predecessor to the DGSE was the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionage SDECE was France‘s external intelligence agency from 6 November 1944 to 2 April 1982, when it was replaced by the DGSE. It should not be confused with the Deuxième Bureau which was intended to pursue purely military intelligence.
The service’s budget in 2016 was 839 million Euros ($977 million). As of November 2019, the Director General of External Security was Bernard Emie.