The origin of the ‘smart defense’ concept is linked with the preparation of the NATO New Strategic Concept of Lisbon, November 2010. Definitely, Secretary Rasmussen advised by the ‘Wise Men Group’ led by Madelain Albright, supported the idea for a substantial change in the Alliance business. He further elaborated his vision in his speech at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, in 30 September 2011.
He said, and I quote: “I know that in an age of austerity, we cannot spend more. But neither should we spend less. So the answer is to spend better. And to get better value for money. To help nations to preserve capabilities and to deliver new ones. This means we must prioritize, we must specialize, and we must seek multinational solutions. Taken together, this is what I call Smart Defense.”
For information, ‘Smart Defense’ is one of 4 key topics of the agenda of the next NATO summit of May 2012, in Chicago, US. Allied Command for Transformation (ACT) is tasked to provide ways and approaches for a smart defence in this summit. Prioritize, specialize, and provide multinational solutions on collective defense, are the three key points for discussions prior to, during and after the Chicago Summit.
There are different perceptions about smart defence. Some are very ambitious, some others are skeptical. Some say it might be important for NATO as a whole, some say it is relevant only to big NATO countries, and some say it might be effective for all allied countries, either they are big or small. The authors of this article are aligned with the third group.
This article is particularly focused on how to apply a smart defence in the Balkan region, and especially within the community of A5 Adriatic Charter countries. The Balkans is a region of small countries with a total of about 550,000 km2 and a population of over 50 million people. In our opinion, ‘smart defence’ may have a specific approach for our region. We initiated with the Vilnius group after the Washington summit, later we continued with the A3 Initiative with the US in May 2003 with 3 countries (Albania, Croatia and Macedonia). From October 2008 we are 5, together with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Later we will expect to be more. In this new regional framework, we should not act in isolation; we should be smart to build our multinational and regional approaches in the interest of our peoples.
Years ago, we have the experience of Baltic countries, which based on their good will, developed good practical aspects of a regional smart defence approach. Based on this experience and others, we are in the right time to identify specific options for our countries, bilaterally, multilaterally, and regionally, as a whole. In this evolutionary effort, we have to overcome some historic barriers linked with the traditional development of security services and the armed forces, and adopt new approaches based on the messages of NATO Strategic Concept of Lisbon Summit.
Now and ahead, all our regional countries have and will have pressure to national budgets, where pressures to defense budget can not be excluded. There is an urgent need for new solutions. How to develop more capabilities with less financial resources? This is the smart question that requires smart answers.
Smart Defence – A National and Regional Approach
In order to be more practical, below, we have explored through a ‘food for thought’ approach some of the priority areas we can use in connection with the application of a ‘smart defense’ approach in Albania and the Balkan region/ A5 community. In our opinion, we should further extend the ‘smart defense’ to a broader ‘smart security’ agenda in national and regional level. We believe Security and Defense are interrelated topics which cannot be separated. This approach will better promote the armed forces as one of the instruments of national security, and as a service to the taxpayers as well. Let us further explore some key issues.
First, we need a ‘smart defense’ at national level. When building national capabilities, we should avoid parallel capabilities in the armed forces, police, information services, border control units, customs services, etc. We cannot develop a bit of everything and everywhere. We need to prioritize, and now under the ‘smart defense’, we need to further prioritize the priorities. There are still duplications of national capabilities of the security institutions covering tasks in land, air and maritime areas. Small countries of the region cannot afford maintaining or building national capabilities with the same mission in different national security institutions. There are many areas we can use dual use technology, such as civil and military. The case of Pashaliman facility to build civil and military ships can be one of the areas. Other areas are those related to Maritime and Airspace Management systems, communication equipment, maintenance and logistic facilities, training and education institutions, integrated procurement, and many other areas to be further explored. In order to promote the right capabilities for security and defense as a NATO country, Albania is currently conducting a Strategic Security and Defense Review (SSDR). We are working also to develop a new Security and Military Strategy, which will also consider elements of the ‘smart security and defense’ concept.
Second, ‘smart defense’ is about development of most critical capabilities through elimination of surpluses, obsolete capabilities, or units of low frequency use. The concept of usability is a primary test for future forces. Again, we cannot afford to develop and maintain military units which belong to the past and do not resist to the existing or expected security situations. SSDR is the right tool to identify the surpluses and the shortages of a smart defence. As Secretary Rasmussen rightly argues “Our guiding principle should be to cut fat, and build up muscle. Rather than spending on fixed infrastructure and soldiers, who are essentially stuck in their barracks, we should re-direct our investments towards more flexible, mobile and modern armed forces – armed forces that we can actually use, against the challenges we actually face”(2).
Third, we need the development of a ‘smart defense’ concept at regional level. We together should build a new mentality for a better cooperation in the area of joint and common capabilities needed to face common threats and risks to the region. In the emerging security situation, no country in the region can develop all required capabilities to deal with the full spectrum of threats we are facing today and tomorrow. Where necessary, ‘regionalization’ of some defense capabilities, based on NATO standards, is a smarter choice to be considered by all our countries. “The best security is shared security”, says Secretary Rasmussen(3).
Fourth, we need a ‘smart defense’ for the development of collective defense capabilities of NDPP (NATO Defence Planning Process). This ‘smart defense’ has to do with the implementation of the Force Goals or Partnership Goals’ package of our countries. Force Goals/Partnership Goals are a very important area for cooperation. NATO is in the transition phase of the New Defense Planning Process and we should take advantage of this period to develop the capabilities we need for Article 5 or Non-Article 5 contribution. To build more and spend less, we can develop a regional framework for the development of specific Force Goals/ Partnership Goals. As ACT Commander, General Abrial said “I do believe that by working together we can achieve surprising results. We all know the old maxim that necessity is the mother of invention. I also subscribe to the belief that financial adversity can also be the mother of invention or of new ways to achieve the most from what we have available.”(4)
For a successful implementation of a smart defence, the Alliance will strive to act as the “honest broker and ... facilitator”, enabling nations to work better, more effectively and efficiently together”(5). And, as a centerpiece of NATO’s smart defence initiative, ACT is leading a task force across NATO aimed at identifying new opportunities for multinational collaborations. The group has presented its final report and identified over 150 ideas and among them, a dozen projects are already off the ground, especially in maintenance, logistics and training and education fields.
Development of the concept of a “Single Set of Forces” for NATO Force Structure, EU Battle groups (especially the Balkan Battlegroup), and UN Pool of Forces is a rational way of ‘smart defense’ for all our regional countries. We cannot afford the development of specific forces/capabilities for each of international organizations. Furthermore, all forces assigned for international operations should be available any time to support national operations as well. This is recommended by Secretary Rasmussen, saying that “In many cases, NATO and the EU share the same requirements for military capabilities. So let us identify priority areas and agree that, wherever possible, any capability work in one organization shall be open to all members of the other too, making mutual cooperation the norm rather than the exception.”(6)
Fifth, we need a ‘smart defense’ with regard to joint participation in NATO/EU/UN or Coalition led missions. Joint participation in NATO led operations, based on the experience of A3 countries medical team and the current POMLT case in ISAF. Going together in operations is much better and cheaper than going alone. This is an area of great interest for all of our regional countries.
Sixth, we need a ‘smart defense’ with special focus on the development of specialized niche capabilities. All our countries have traditional units and specialties, for which NATO is in real need. What NATO and EU need from our countries today are not mechanized or motorized battalions, but both organizations are in need for EOD, CIED, MP, OMLT, POMLT, CIMIC, PRT teams, and other small specialized capabilities, which can be better provided by smaller nations.
Seventh, we need a ‘smarter defense’ with regard to Civil Emergencies. Civil Emergency should be the primary area for cooperation and development of joint capabilities. Albania had a flood crisis situation last December and most regional countries helped our country. We are committed to do the same, and we should continue this approach of helping each other in these cases.
Eighth, we need a ‘Smart Defense’ through applying a ‘sharing and pooling’ approach at bilateral, multinational and regional level, where possible. Sharing and polling could be a better way to develop capabilities which overcome the possibilities of our individual nations, such as a Regional Airspace Management System, a Regional Air Policing System. Also, our countries are not able to develop Strategic Airlift, Intelligence capabilities, or other highly expensive capabilities, but we can work on alternative approaches based on national, regional, or collective level.
Ninth, we need a ‘Smart Defense’ in support of the Education and Training, Infrastructure and Maintenance. This is a large area of research on how to effectively use our precious available resources at local or regional level. Pooling and sharing some of the national training and education institutions, where necessary, is a very efficient tool to get closer our armed forces, and save considerable spending. The efforts made so far in this area are to be appreciated, but a new promotion of a regional cooperation framework on training and education capabilities under the ‘smart defense’ concept is a project to be supported by all countries. Among others, Albania has made available a Senior Regional Course on Security and Defense, and it has been successful so far. Pooling and sharing can be further extended when building and using the capabilities of existing and future Regional Centers of Excellence, or Facilities for Training and Exercises of regional countries. We are working to finalize the project of Biza Training Center, a project to be provided for use to all regional countries and beyond. We appreciate the capabilities provided by all other regional countries in this direction. This is a very important area to be further explored by the experts of our countries. Using infrastructure, maintenance and logistics capabilities of countries at regional level, or at multinational level is an area of smart cooperation to be further explored. For example, for a small region such as the Balkans, instead of having separate capabilities in all regional countries, we can use at a regional level destruction sites of excess ammunitions, or repair and maintenance factories, ship-building and shipyard facilities, and many other services. Communication is another area of interest to promote interoperability of our forces. Of course, they need legal appropriate arrangements.
Tenth, but not the least, ‘Smart Defense’ is not completed without the Research and Development element. We cannot find smart solutions without research and development in our defense institutions. Smart solutions require smart peoples and smart defense institutions based on knowledge and innovation practices. Albanian MoD is using all intellectual potentials of the Defence Academy and the Center for Defence Analyses to bring about ‘smart defense’ solutions regarding issues in national and international security agenda. In our opinion, Research and Development in the security and defence area should become a new item in the agenda of cooperation among our regional countries.
We identified only ten ideas on how to start with a smart defence approach in our region. Of course, there may be tens of others to be explored. Beyond the identification, they should be discussed in round tables based on a top-down or bottom-up approach, depending on the situation. The way ahead is open for debates and discussions for the good of our countries. We should be open-minded to promote them. Small countries, like our regional countries, cannot develop all required capabilities on their own. Being flexible and pragmatic, away from being conformist and traditional, are two key elements of a smart defense. A new vision should be developed, a new mentality should be articulated, a new area of cooperation should be opened. Capabilities, we cannot afford at national level, could be developed together. A good example to be followed is the successful approach of the Baltic countries. Smart defence may require short, mid and long term solutions. It has to do with use of existing capabilities and building new ones. With concern of using existing capabilities, smart defence has to do only with their identification and use with common consensus. While, in connection with building new capabilities, first comes common vision and good will, second comes short, mid and long term planning, and third comes implementation. Application of ‘smart defense’ concept requires first of all a strong political will at national and regional level. It will require new legal arrangements from all regional countries, either members or aspiring NATO and EU membership. The new changes should be reflected in the National Security and Military Strategies of our countries. Security and defense of each of our countries is not any longer a question of the countries in isolation. We have common challenges, regional and transnational risks and threats which have to be managed by use of regional approaches, capabilities and solutions. The ideas of this article are of the authors and do not necessarily represent the positions of the institutions they belong to. Opinions for and against the ideas of this article are welcomed.
- NATO Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of States and Government of the Alliance, Lisbon Summit 2010
- Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speech at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, 30 September 2011 General Stephane Abrial, Speech at Defence Ministerial meeting, October 5-6 in Brussels.
- Foreign Affairs, “The Atlantic Alliance in Austere Times, NATO After Libya”, July/August 2011 edition, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, www.ForeignAffairs.com
- “The New Strategic Concept – Three different perspectives”, NATO Defence College ‘Vox Collegii’ Magazine, January 2011.
- Anders Fogh Rasmussen speech at the conference of the Security and Defense Agenda in Brussels
Dr. Leonard Demi, Col ® Thimi Hudhra
(2) Secretary Rasmussen, Munich Security Conference, February 2011
(3) Secretary Rasmussen, speech at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, 30 September 2011
(4) General Stephane Abrial, ACT Commander Speech at Defence Ministerial meeting, October 5-6 in Brussels.
(5) ACT Industry Newsletter, August 2011, Issue 46
(6)“Security policy in an era of budgetary constraint’’, 21 Jun. 2010, Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the conference of the Security and Defence Agenda in Brussels