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.


Bernard Emie, DGSE 


Bernard Emie

The DGSE  has also concluded that Russia sought to influence France’s 2017 presidential elections by generating social media support for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.


France has stationed many intelligence officers in Africa, which became apparent in 2016 when three DGSE agents were killed in a helicopter crash in Libya.


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.


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 service’s budget in 2016 was 839 million Euros ($977 million). As of September 2020, the Director General of External Security was Bernard Emié.