General Paul Azan in 1936.
|Died||1951 (aged 76–77)|
|Years of service||1902-1936|
|Rank||Général de division|
|Other work||Author, Historian|
Paul-Jean-Louis Azan (Besançon 1874 - Lons-le-Saunier 1951) was a French general and author. He is remembered for his missions to the United States during World War I and his French historical and military writings which examined and celebrated French Colonial rule in North Africa.
A graduate of the Saint-Cyr military academy, Paul Azan served in the 2nd régiment de zouaves in colonial Algeria along the Moroccan border, prior to its conquest by France. Later receiving a doctorate in literature, his thesis and first book Hannibal dans les Alpes brought him attention as a military historian and writer on colonial North Africa. In 1902 he was transferred to the Army's Historical Service. There he authored a number of works on the "Algeria Question", how France might best assimilate and pacify the colonized population of North Africa. His works argued against the "Assimilationist" French policy, arguing that North African Muslims could not become full French citizens. His most notable work on the subject was 1905's "Sidi-Brahim", on the Algerian leader during the period of early colonialism in the 1840s. After serving in the historical mission to Spain, now Captain Azan returned to North Africa, following interventions which culminated in the 1911 French conquest of Morocco, about which he authored several works, and serving under General Lyautey. He took part as an officer in the campaign against the Beni Snassen and the 1908 Fez Crisis expedition of General d'Amade.
Prior to the First World War, Azan was assigned the French home garrison at Autun. At the outbreak of war, Azan was reassigned to the Army High Command (état-major d'armée), and then given command of company of infantry in the 20th Corps.
Wounded first at Yser in Belgium, he was soon made chef de bataillon and was again wounded -- this time more seriously -- during the Artois offensive of May 1915. Following his recovery Azan was made a military instructor in the VIth Army under General Fayolle, the Mangin.
Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, Azan was made Chief of the Information Mission to the United States in the spring of 1917. While there he received much attention as instructor of the Harvard University officers training unit. Translated to English, his The War of positions and The Warfare of to day received much acclaim in the United States.
Returning to North Africa, Colonel Azan commanded the 6th Regiment of the Tirailleurs Algérien at Tlemcen. There he wrote his history of Lyautey's earlier expedition and a biography of Algerian resistance leader, Abd el-Kader. He also commanded troops in the suppression of the Abd el-Krim's revolt against French occupation in the Rif War. In the late 1920s, following an assignment teaching at the Centre des hautes études militaires in Paris, Azan was interim commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade at Tunis and commanded the suppression a series of anti-colonial riots. Promoted to Général de brigade in 1928 General Azan was made head of the "Service historique de l'armée". AsGénéral de division he was head of military forces in French Tunisia from 1933 to 1936.