The concept of Smart Defence is quite new concept although the same has been discussed for a long time. The Smart Defence concept now is considered to be one of the main NATO‘s engagements which will be developed by the Alliance in the years to come.
The current happenings on the world political scene caused by the global financial crisis forced the majority of countries to reduce the defence costs. Furthermore, in the course of this crisis the Alliance’s security environment has been changing, and has become more diverse and unpredictable. The crisis in Libya, Syria and Egypt are a recent example, underlining the unforeseeable nature of conflicts, but also showing the need for modern systems and facilities and for less reliance on the United States for costly advanced capabilities.
The crisis has also threatened defensive capacity of NATO states. In view of this NATO authorities decided to introduce a Smart Defence concept with the aim to optimize defensive capabilities of the alliance countries and promote more rational use of these capabilities.
The Allies agreed to the Smart Defence initiative during NATO’s Chicago Summit in May 2012. In light of the current financial crisis, geopolitical shifts, and increasing differentiation of security threats, NATO proposed a new fundamental strategy, Smart Defence.The Chicago Summit was the first but essential step in implementing the Smart Defence concept, with possible agreement between the Allies on a series of concrete multinational projects to develop the Smart Defence NATO capability.
Smart Defence is a concept that encourages Allies to cooperate in developing, acquiring and maintaining military capabilities to meet current security problems in accordance with the new NATO Strategic Concept. Therefore, NATO Smart Defence means pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities and coordinating efforts better.
The concept of Smart Defence as a new approach in the field of defence and security was first introduced at the Munich Conference for Security in 2011 by the Secretary General, Andres Fogh Rasmussen. The idea of this concept referred to the commitment of the member states of NATO to deploy and develop different defence capabilities in the areas where they have been most successful. In this regard, the principles of Smart Defence require mutual understanding of all NATO states. This means that they need to concentrate their financial and intellectual assets in one of the defined spheres of cooperation. By doing this, every state of the Alliance ensure the other states to keep their commitments.
But what really the Smart Defence concept is about? In the beginning there was a constant debate among the member states of NATO about the core meaning of the concept. Some of the member states argued that the concept of the “collective defence” is the main driver and the others defended the position that the priority is to have deployable, usable forces ready for international operations.
As it was mentioned before, the concept of Smart Defence referred to the multinational solutions which render either more capacity for the same money of the same capacity for less money. The European Union also has an initiative by which shall coordinate and manage the activities between the member states in security sector. Here we talk about the Pooling and Sharing Initiative of the EU. In fact, this concept is nothing new and its root can be found in 2003 European Security Strategy.
The Pooling and Sharing Initiative can be best explained by defining the role of its main body and that is the European Defence Agency. The European Defence Agency was established under a Joint Action of the Council of Ministers on 12 July 2004 in order to support the Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy. Recent operations have demonstrated critical gaps in European military capabilities. But while defence budgets are under pressure and investment is in decline, costs of major defence systems are rising. For the European Member States cooperation in defence is the solution to acquire and maintain critical capabilities.
Although at first glance it is apparently the same concept, it is necessary to emphasize that among the Smart Defence concept and the Pooling and Sharing Initiative there are significant differences. The fact that the European Union lacks a common security and defense policy talks about necessity to improve the legal and institutional framework in the field of security and defense in terms of creating a strategy that would be the first significant step towards creating a common security and defence policy. The other important thing related to the broader concept of sharing defence capabilities is related to the need for seeking cooperation players outside the NATO. This means that the Alliance should expand the areas of cooperation with the countries with which the Alliance cooperate on the basis of partnerships in accordance with the main principles and procedures.
Finally, there is this question of defining priority areas and capabilities which NATO needs most as well as to look for multinational solutions to common problems. In this context, the role of NATO would be crucial in order to act as a mediator by helping the nations to create common strategies and solutions by sharing their defence capabilities.
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