Social science, especially in France, has long ignored the analysis of the army from a sociological or political sociology perspective. There is even less methodological literature on this point, except for the significant book by Samy Cohen (Cohen 1999). This lack of analysis on the subject is significant to the extent that the military institution raises specific methodological challenges for a social researcher and requires reflexivity. The analyst actually needs to be conscious of some supposed common knowledge on the military field that must be put aside. Enquiring directly on the military ground actually shows the social scientist that the culture of secrecy in the army still exists and makes the enquiry difficult for the civilian social researcher. However, the interviewed officers and diplomats actually show a true will to communicate on their profession with the social science researchers. Consequently, the social outlines of the military field oblige us to reflect on the praxis of qualitative enquiry and more precisely on the praxis of qualitative research interview insofar as “the paradox of research interview is to have the interviewee say and show what he had until then held hidden, voluntarily or not” (Marmoz 2001: 7) by using a specific instrumentation (e.g. questionnaires, concepts) even if secrecy appears as a constitutive characteristic of the military profession and the politico-military decision-making process in France, as well as abroad. This chapter is based on our dissertation dealing with the genesis, practices and uses of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) with a focus on the comparison between France and Germany, both in the genesis and daily practices and representations of ESDP actors (military and diplomats). More precisely, we led over 130 qualitative interviews with high military officials, diplomats and political leaders in Paris, Berlin, Bonn and Brussels. Here we focus on what it means to study the military with a qualitative and comparative methodology. We will therefore raise

three main issues, which are intertwined in our research. The first issue will be the qualitative perspective and the questions it raises regarding the specificity of the military mission, which is often confidential. The second issue is to concretely raise the question of the implementation of the qualitative method in the military field in a comparative perspective: how to ask questions so they make sense to the interviewees? The last issue will address the question of reflexivity, and more precisely of the position of the enquirer before the military officers. What does it mean, and how does it impact the research? We will of course rely on our case study (French and German officers in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)) to draw empirical examples, so as to illustrate the three issues raised in this chapter.