Smart Defence – a more effective defence
Based on international economic conditions, among other things, NATO is working with the potential of new multinational solutions in the defence area. At the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010, the heads of states and governments agreed that NATO must strengthen its work with new multinational solutions – ranging from the capability area (including investments in equipment, running costs and maintenance), to training, exercise and education, as well as attention to cases as such.
Since then multinational cooperation has been receiving increased focus. At the security policy conference in Munich in February 2011, NATO’s secretary general first introduced the concept of ‘Smart Defence’. It should be perceived as a collect term for multinational solutions, which render either more capacity for the same money of the same capacity for less money.
Examples of Smart Defence
Multi-nationality or multinational solutions as such are not new concepts, and are already being carried out in a long series of areas.
NATO’s decision to carry out collective air surveillance and enforcement of sovereignty over the Baltic countries is just one example of this.
Another specific example of Smart Defence is the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project – which Denmark has decided to rejoin. The AGS is an advanced surveillance and clearance system of unmanned planes for the use of both planning and execution of military as well as civilian operations. This means that the system is useful for supporting weapons control, non-proliferation and disarmament, border control, contribution to fighting of piracy and terrorism, enforcement of sovereignty, as well as civilian related tasks, such as surveillance of trade routes and embargo, and humanitarian emergency tasks, including on the event of national disasters. Finally, the system can be useful for exact targeting during military efforts and thus contribute to minimizing civilian losses.
Political will – also in Denmark
As a concept, the Smart Defence initiative is basically an expression of a political will to obtain cooperative relations, and well-considered divisions of labour where the greatest effect or reductions can be obtained, or otherwise to obtain the needed synergy to enable NATO as an alliance to handle the security policy challenges in a time with fewer resources. Furthermore, the initiative emphasizes the need for securing the required military capacities through better coordination between the national defence plans. The political will is also widely anchored in Denmark. This was last demonstrated by the Defence Agreement 2013-2017
, which states that “The Parties to the Agreement have agreed that NATO’s Smart Defence initiative should be utilized to achieve greater operational effect with the same or fewer resources. This should be achieved through bilateral and multinational cooperative relations, clearer priorities and specializations”.
At the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in February 2012, Denmark launched a project focusing on enhanced multinational cooperation regarding a series of various ammunition types Multinational project: Air-to-Ground Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) (pdf)
. Some ammunition types involve substantial costs in relation to procurement, stock-piling and maintenance. Increased cooperation between the countries in this field is estimated to render savings and increased flexibility in the long term, as well as access to arms reserves. Among other things, the project is based on the Danish experience from the Libya operation, which was a challenging experience in relation to procurement of the needed amount of ammunition. The project was finalized in September 2013 and Denmark delivered a concept for multinational ammunitions life-cycle management to NATO.
Tendency in NATO, the EU and in a Nordic setting
Just as multinational initiatives can create synergy, savings and facilitate procurement of the most crucial capacities in a NATO context, an equivalent synergy can be obtained between the processes in NATO and the EU. As in NATO, an equally substantial effort is being made in an EU setting, termed “Pooling and Sharing”.
The Smart Defence agenda is not only relevant for NATO and the EU, though. In a Nordic setting (i.e. the Nordic defence cooperation, NORDEFCO
), among others, an effort is made to intensify and enhance the defence cooperation. In November 2012 at a Nordic defence ministers’ meeting in Denmark, the ministers signed a declaration of intent regarding intensified cooperation on issues, such as air transportation, training and exercises, while also increased cooperation regarding capacity-building in Africa is high on the Nordic agenda.
Options and challenges
Especially at a time when many European countries have to streamline and find budget cuts, it makes basically good sense to search out cooperative relations that may produce added value, find savings or hold potential opportunities, which might not have been otherwise available due to the economic climate.
This dynamic, as well as the intention of searching out new partners for collaboration and mutual confidence-building initiatives, are present in both the EU and NATO.
However, Smart Defence also holds a number of substantial challenges which must be overcome, including especially more sensitive issues, such as sovereignty, dependency, and security of supplies. When two or more nations join forces to acquire a joint capacity, their mutual dependency will naturally be increased. Similarly, an increased specialization and division of labour will present a series of challenges due to the resulting increased interdependence between the nations. The agreements should therefore carefully stipulate the conditions of taking the collective capacities into use. This will establish the needed security of the capacity actually being available, when needed. There is thus a continued need to further develop the Smart Defence concept.