2021 - 2023
Your Excellency Maris Selga, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia,
Mr Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor of the City of Norfolk. Dear Kenneth,
Honourable councilpersons and civic leaders of the city of Norfolk,
Mr. Robert Cross, founder and Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival,
Mr. Scott Jackson, General Manager of the Virginia Arts Festival, and Producer Director of the Virginia International Tattoo,
Mr. Gary Bonnewell, Chairman of the Norfolk NATO Festival Committee,
Admirals, generals of the Hampton Roads area,
ACT and JFC Norfolk military leadership,
Dear friends and families,
Ladies and gentlemen.
The Norfolk NATO Festival has celebrated the bond between the city of Norfolk and NATO for many years. And 2023 is special for at least three reasons.
First, 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of this Festival, making it the longest continuously running festival in the Hampton Roads region.
The name has changed, but from the very beginning, since 1953, the associations and civic leaders of the Festival Committee, have made the choice to associate and align the Festival / with the only NATO Strategic Command on this side of the Atlantic.
Ever since then, Norfolk has been NATO’s Home in North America.
Second reason, because 2023 also celebrates Allied Command Transformation’s 20th Anniversary!
In 2003, following the Prague Summit, NATO’s military command structure was reorganized to become more efficient, and ACT was created to become NATO’s leading agent for change.
For 20 years, ACT has anticipated new security challenges, designed future capabilities and educated talents, to keep the edge.
For the next 20 years, ACT will continue to lead warfare development of military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines. So that NATO, the most successful military Alliance in History, can continue to fulfil its collective defence mission, guarantee the security of its one billion citizens, and defend the democratic values on which our Alliance is built.
And third reason why this Norfolk NATO Festival edition is so special, because 2023 has just seen the accession of a 31st member nation to NATO.
Indeed, Finland is now a full NATO member, and its flag flies proudly over our heads today.
Joining NATO means a lot…
- It means, having 30 other countries committed to protect you against any aggression.
- It means, being engaged for the respect of the rule of law, and the self-determination of peoples.
- It means, being prepared to defend any member of the family, like you would defend yourself.
Finland is stronger and safer within NATO, and NATO is stronger and safer with Finland as an Ally.
As it will be for Sweden, whose ratification process is expected to come to an end soon.
The Russian War of aggression in Ukraine was a catalyst, which accelerated the accession processes that were underway.
As I did last year, I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the Ukrainians. They have shown remarkable determination from the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
As part of the wider NATO team, ACT is focused on providing Ukraine with what it needs, to win and prevail as a sovereign, independent nation.
While Russia is sending thousands more troops into battle, trying to compensate in quantity what they lack in quality, Ukraine is benefitting from an unprecedented support provided by NATO and Allies, with training and modern weapons.
And we need to step up that support.
This war makes us realize that security can never be taken for granted.
NATO is a defensive Alliance by nature, based on solidarity between Allies that are different, but share the same values.
And the Norfolk NATO Festival has always been a symbol of this international solidarity, and friendship. Today, this colourful display of 31 Nations flags and uniforms, also shows our diversity, our inclusiveness and our cohesion!
Year after year, it strengthens the ties between the city of Norfolk and the NATO families living in Hampton Roads.
And since it’s the theme of this year’s International Tattoo, I also want to praise our military families.
They embody ideals we cherish: strength, loyalty, and commitment.
They are standing beside those who stand behind their flags, allowing the women and men in uniform / to give everything.
So the happiness and wellbeing of our families are crucial to our military’s morale. Successful integration of our families in new environment is, therefore, paramount.
We, the military and civilian families from NATO nations, are grateful to the entire Hampton Roads area for its support and warm welcome.
I express my sincere gratitude to the Mayor of Norfolk, and with him, to the local civilian and military authorities, associations, organizations and individuals / who work daily for and with us.
Thank you to the Festival Committee, which has worked so hard to make this Festival such a rich succession of wonderful moments.
And, finally, I would like to thank all of you, especially those who come from far away to participate to this year’s Festival.
You are the living proof of what collective perseverance, resilience, and unrelenting focus on pushing forward, can achieve.
Long live Norfolk NATO Festival, and Win as a Team!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Less than a year ago, Russia carried out its plan to invade Ukraine, while the international community looked on in disbelief. This brutal aggression of a sovereign nation sounded the return of war to the European soil, and marked the end of an era.
Now, everybody knows that we face a new reality for our security. Europe and North America continue to stand strong together in NATO to protect our people, defend our values and deter further aggression.
As SACT, one of my mission is to propose the adaptation, evolution and transformation of our Military Instrument of Power, in order to fulfil NATO’s missions, and ambition. For that, we must first anticipate the future operating environment.
So what might that war of tomorrow look like? In two words, More, and faster!
1. More, of everything:
- more missiles;
- more loitering, swarms of drones;
- more competition in the information sphere;
- more threats to our economies, sovereignties, and so on.
2. And Faster. Think hypersonic, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing.
These new threats will take multiple forms, across different instruments of power and timescales, and over a vastly expanded battlespace.
New threats, yes, but also new opportunities!
My mission is to identify these opportunities, and to do everything possible to ensure that NATO is able to seize and exploit them.
To this end, we are developing together a vision for the future of NATO’s military instrument of power. A vision based on multi-domain operations, which will enable us to think, plan and conduct faster than our adversaries, across all domains. Multi-Domain Operations will rely on Digital Transformation, which our new Strategic Concept urges us to expedite.
In terms of capability development, it gives ACT many responsibilities to ensure that NATO’s starship stays on route and maintain its climb rate.
As a first step, we must “connect the dots” between our main concepts, and clearly identify the short, mid and long-term linkages between the NATO Military Strategy, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept and the (Concept for the) Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area. We have to know more precisely, not only where we are going, but also when and how.
This morning, general Badia and admiral Robinson will elaborate on ACT’s contributions to that endeavour, which we are committed to fulfil in close coordination with ACO and the whole NATO Command Structure, and of course the nations.
Then, this conference proposes to work on four topics that are critical for this transformation.
The first topic directly flows from the Russian aggression against Ukraine. And with no surprise, our early observations underline the need for us to better anticipate the fast-evolving operating environment.
And to do this, it is no longer just a question of the military instrument of power, but of being able to think the other instruments of power.
And we can see this need today through interdependencies – think of energy security!
For example, we need to look at our own industrial capacity to produce in the long term, in the event of a war. But I could also talk about the importance of Resilience in the deterrence posture.
Having said that – and this should reassure you – the five NWCC imperatives remain valid and relevant; competition in the different spheres brings us back to MDO implementation, the need to shape and contest, and the necessity of managing escalation and de-escalation.
We must now accelerate the implementation of the concepts. The role of ACT is to orchestrate this acceleration, by synchronizing the activities, and maximizing the interactions.
The second topic is about Cognitive Warfare.
Russia’s war against Ukraine demonstrates the importance of the cognitive dimension. While the use of propaganda and influence operations has always existed, what is new with Cognitive Warfare is its strategic use and unprecedented scope.
In cognitive warfare, human mind becomes the battlefield; and a local event can have global repercussions, almost instantaneously! I think you will agree with me that President Zelensky has already won several battles on this field.
So, this is an urgent necessity… Some of our competitors are on the verge of realizing the age-old dream of Sun Tzu “Winning without Fighting”.
- must seize the initiative in the Cognitive Dimension, recognising the threat of persistent cognitive attacks and the resulting risk to the Military Instrument of Power,
- and take proactive steps to, first, understand and educate, then shape the environment and contest the threat of Cognitive Warfare.
The third topic deals with ACT’s domain of expertise, Interoperability, which is somehow the military part of NATO’s Digital Transformation.
Interoperability is NATO’s added-value to the nations’ capabilities. This is an enduring challenge, and we must take care that it does not become more and more difficult to achieve, over the coming years.
Let’s never lose sight that the future is about data, civilian standards, open architecture and agile development.
Nations must recover the ownership of their own transformation! And ACT and NATO HQ will help with the implementation of NATO Digital Transformation.
The last topic is about innovation.
Innovation is a different way to approach capability development; resolutely data-centric, modular and agile, but at the same time, offering practical solutions to real-world problems that our warfighters may face today or tomorrow.
Ten years after ACT established its Innovation Hub, we believe we must continue to develop our open innovation community and network, through NATO nations and entities like DIANA, and with academia and industry.
And we need to experiment more! ACT offers realistic testing grounds with real inputs and requirements, which helps to improve products for the immediate satisfaction of our soldiers, the end users. And ACT is committed to offering even more.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope this quick overview has made your mouth water for the next two days. I myself am looking forward to participating in the syndicates and sharing on the proposed topics.
Thank you for your attention. Dear Janusz, please, I give you the floor. And then, I will be ready to answer one or two questions.
Ambassador Braze, dear Baiba
NATO’s spokesperson, dear Oana
Ambassadors, Generals and Admirals,
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin
by thanking Ambassador Braze for inviting me, and especially for recently honoring ACT with her presence in Norfolk.
I regret not being with you in person, but what better way to talk about the future of warfare than appearing before you remotely from thousands of miles and six time zones away?
Something previous generation would have considered science fiction.
Today, I want to tell you a little bit about how ACT sees that future, what ACT is doing to prepare for that future, working with ACO, NATO HQ and the Nations and finally link those efforts to yours since it is together that we will ensure NATO continues to be the world’s most successful alliance.
Let me start by inviting you to use your mind’s eye.
Picture a small unit. It is expecting an enemy offensive and a rumble of approaching tanks is growing more audible every second. The sergeant reaches for our most potent weapon, the smartphone. And yes, there is an app for that.
Using that app she can call up via commercial satellite connection all kinds of near immediate fires. And since you are communicators, think now another place and another time. Well, that phone is another soldier’s worst enemy. He is trouble unable to concentrate on the task at hand on his duty. His children’s are, he thinks texting him, sending him links to media reports.
And this is the message he is getting.
All is lost.
He needs to come all now while he still has a home, before all the worthless politicians ruin everything. Many of you will know that version of these stories are happening right now in and around Ukraine. The future of war fighting is in some ways already here.
But you also know that to win tomorrow’s war, you don’t prepare to fight the wars of yesterday.
So NATO must be prepare for the immediate future and at the same time look much further ahead to be ready for more changes and surprises.
So, what might that war of tomorrow look like?
In a few words. More.
More of everything. More missiles, more loitering drones or swarm drones. More competition in the information sphere, more threats to our economies and energy security or whatever all the tools our opponent can reach for, including the abuse of mass migration flows, for example.
More and faster, faster.
These threats will be faster, think hypersonic, obviously, but think also artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
And that means we will need to be much faster because it’s not clear our current decision making process will be up to the task.
And finally, everything, everywhere and all the time.
That is because these new threats will take multiple forms across the different instruments of powers and timescales of our vastly expanded battle space.
That’s what we need to be ready for.
But before you lose all hope, know that we have been hard at work with our friends in ACO and their plans, posture and readiness efforts and exercises here at ACT, we are working on Multi-Domain Operations, or MDO and NATO’s digital transformation and resilience, and especially cognitive superiority and information environment assessment.
For the military side of our alliance our work is broadly defined by three major documents.
The new Strategic Concept agreed this summer, the ACT NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, NWCC, and the ACO concept for the deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic area, DDA.
All three highlight how, in order to provide deterrence and defense for 1 billion of our fellow citizens, NATO forces will have to be equipped, trained for, and able to conduct multi-domain operations.
The military committee has approved the MDO vision and a working definition for MDO, which is â€œthe orchestration of the military activities across all domains and environments, synchronized with nonmilitary activities to enable the alliance to deliver a converging effect at the speed of relevance.
What do we mean by that?
I will invite you once again to picture another scene.
But we have to jump forward in time. A loitering drone has found an important new target of opportunity that we did not know about.
A large command center. We need more information. A lot more information. And we need it now so that our decision makers can make the right call while eliminating the risk of collateral damage.
What kind of information?
It may include historical background data from satellite pictures taken by partners, GSM and ISP data from nano satellites and any other digital traces the personnel working there might have left on social media or via their posted best running times.
Collecting that data sifting through it, and bringing together the various domains is how we get what they need to our decision makers for NATO forces to succeed in this way. They will have to operate beyond the known familiar joint environment and make that giant qualitative leap to MDO, where all the military activities, irrespective of domain or environment, must mesh together.
To do that in an Alliance setting also means much more sharing of data information and intelligence and significantly closer interaction with other instrument of power.
More on than in a moment.
Notice not all of this is entirely new.
Of course, NATO’s has long operated jointly, and you may recall talk of the comprehensive approach. But in a way, we are comparing checkers and the three dimensional chess game played by Dr. Spock. Both use a board and pieces, but the level of complexity is of an entirely different order.
And the fact is, we have little choice because our adversaries can already challenge us in some, if not all, operational domains where we previously enjoy an edge. MDO is how we can keep one step ahead and ensure we can think, decide and act faster than everyone.
All of that will also require moving ahead with our digital transformation because in the example, given just now, clearly all that data needs to flow as fast as possible.
This will involve technological leaps with agile software development organization and structure, able to share and process input faster and more efficiently and the use of more open systems.
So much of what we need, of what we want to achieve will not be possible without it.
Returning now to those other instruments of power mentioned in the MDO definition, I want to make the link to another of our five warfare development imperative that in our ACT warfare development agenda.
I’m talking, of course, here of Cognitive supriority, which will bring better situational awareness and allow greater understanding of our opponents.
But it is also related to the information environment assessment and the importance of ensuring the resilience of our societies.
Let me give you another illustration by drawing your attention to a particularly instructive recent historical comparison.
In 2014, Ukraine’s cognitive strengths will severely tested both in terms of situational awareness, but also in shoring up their own resilience against a physical but also a digital assault.
Clearly, at that time, many of our own governments and NATO as a whole, were a little slow off the mark, too. And we all remember the avalanche of false and misleading information that fell on our open societies, which made it harder to react and mobilise opinions our lack of an adequate information environment assessment capabilities was a clear failure.
But we learn from failures as much as we do from our successes. In the lead up to the Russian invasion this year, the alliance and allied communication efforts and warnings were significantly improved and we were able to significantly increase the resilience of our societies.
And that was achieved both within the borders of Ukraine due in no small part to Ukraine’s successful communication efforts, but also beyond them to a wider world, including our populations.
We continue to work on improving our information environment assessment capability. ACT as with SHAPE and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, been working for instance a project Merlin.
It will bring improved data analytics, better modeling simulation and forecasting alerts. We know that other nations are working on collective strengths and weaknesses, including through the use of artificial intelligence on other technologies, or as part of Chinese or Russian collective war efforts.
NATO cannot ignore these developments, especially since we know that democracies are in some way more vulnerable than closed societies.
Which is why one of our warfare development imperative deals with cognitive superiority.
Recall that scenario I mentioned in the opening speech where a smartphone which was used directly at the cognitive resilience of a soldier.
And that is the point here, our armed forces are only as strong as the men and women who serve in them.
That applies at all levels of course, from the top political military leaderships whose decision making processes must take place at the speed of relevance.
It goes all the way down to our men and women on the ground who need the best training and equipment we can provide.
So then, when we think about the future of warfare, I also invite communicators to help us think about how best to protect them from that kind of threat by making use of the other instruments of powers available to the alliance, for example.
To conclude, the fog of war, will continue to worsen and the blinding speed and force of lightning strikes in that fog will continue to grow in intensity and complexity.
But the nations have given us the framework and approve our way ahead, to help us see through that fog and stay ahead.
By pulling together we can, I am confident, continue to ensure the peace and prosperity of our members and our citizens.
Before closing, dear communicators and guardians of the information domain, I wish you a successful conference.
I am also looking forward to seeing you at the 2023 Bi-SC NATO Communicators Conference next September, and I discussed that even with today’s host, ASG PDD during a visit to Norfolk earlier this month.
I am delighted to announce that we will meet in Paris for the September 2023 conference to build our capabilities and continue our conversation.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Communicate as a team and of course, win as a team.
Mr. Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium,
Mr. Geoană, Deputy Secretary General, dear Mircea,
Mr. Decamps, General Manager of the NATO Communication and Information Agency, dear Ludwig,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy to be here today in Mons, for this first NATO EDGE Conference. It is a major event for achieving our common objective of keeping NATO’s Warfighting edge.
But how do we keep the advantage, collectively?
Through a new data-centric, modular and agile approach to capability development, in order to enable Multi-Domain Operations by 2030.
First of all, it is necessary to see from where we start, and where we want to go.
NATO is without doubt the most successful international political and military organization in modern history, built on common democratic values.
Today, NATO’s military instrument of power is the result of combining the women, men and equipment of 30 different nations, united by common procedures and interoperability standards.
In recent years, increasingly bold competitors have emerged in an ever more complex security environment.
All around us, the digital revolution is shortening all cycles: research and development cycles, training cycles, user cycles…. We have entered the era of agility, open architectures and constant questioning. That’s where we are.
And in our sights, where we want to be by 2030, is MDO, which stands for “Multi-Domain Operations”; “the orchestration of military activities, across all domains & environments, synchronized with non‐military activities, to enable the Alliance to deliver converging effects at the speed of relevance”.
And there is a big difference between conducting complex joint operations – as we do today – and being able to conduct multi-domain operations, as we aim to do tomorrow.
- Joint operations are military actions conducted by joint forces: significant elements of two or more military services operating under a single Joint Force Command.
- The typical joint operation is Operation Overlord in Normandy, back in World War II. At that time, we executed stove-piped, pre-planned operations in several domains.
- In Afghanistan, one could argue that we executed operations in multiple domains.
- However, connectivity between domains and level of command was built upon fragile, temporary communication networks, glued together using existing technology.
- Commands and commanders struggled to synchronize each of the domains, and were rarely able to inform or synchronize activities with other Instruments of Power.
Yes, there is a big step between Executing operations in multi domains and Conducting Multi-Domain Operations.
- MDO is larger; MDO coordinates and synchronizes activities from multiple forces (military and non-military) that can operate in a non-traditional domain.
Unlike in Afghanistan, MDO should enable us to operate in a non-permissive environment, against a peer adversary that can fight back in all 5 domains: sea, air, land, space and cyberspace.
MDO will ensure that our Command and Control, our Communication and Information systems, and all the key capabilities such as the ISR, or Cyber, are linked and synchronized.
Across all domains, MDO will guarantee that all levels of command have a real-time awareness of delivered and available effects, allowing seamless synchronization.
MDO will allow the orchestration of all instruments of power, and the use of non-military effects to support the military objectives, and vice-versa.
And on the battlefield, MDO will enable a warfighter to leverage any available sensor or effector, military or not, across all domains.
This is the “where we want to go”. Now the question is… What is the way? And what is the method?
We have asked a lot from our traditional defence industries[p] in terms of reliability, accountability and guarantees. Because of these high standards, the approach we inherited is a little heavy, which does not fit well with this increasingly compelling need for agility.
Of course, we will not compromise on our standards of reliability and performance; we owe it to our warfighters, and to the one billion citizens that NATO protects, in accordance with our democratic and human values.
But we will add the “need for speed and agility” to the mix.
That’s why, in order to keep up with the pace of the world, we must now resolutely – and quickly – switch to a new development approach.
This calls for a change of “philosophy” in terms of capability development, at all levels:
- for the warfighters,
- for their equipment,
- and for our operating processes.
The period in which we find ourselves is a crucial transition phase. We must both modernize and transform, building on lead nations, but taking care not to leave anyone behind.
Basically, to win any confrontation, we must think and act better and faster than the adversary.
First, we need to gain speed. From cycles lasting a few years today, we must be able to move to a few months or even weeks. For this, we must now disconnect the software and hardware capability cycles.
This switch, from an approach based on sequential and monolithic programmes, to one based on a scalable and agile capability approach, is essential if we are to develop multi-domain, data-centric and interoperable capabilities and operations.
Allied nations must also have equipment that communicates natively and interacts naturally with each other to maximize operational effectiveness. This equipment must be able to easily evolve to meet new requirements, as they emerge through Innovation, experimentations, exercises and real operations.
The segregation between the civilian and military worlds no longer makes sense. NATO must be able to draw inspiration and good ideas from civilian innovation, at scale. The innovation mind-set must become the new normal for capability development, education and training, and working processes.
NATO’s functioning must finally be based on processes that are agile, too. The objective is to strengthen our responsiveness and competitiveness as an organization.
And the instrument for this transformation, the vehicle by which NATO will be able, by 2030, to conduct multi-domain operations, is the NATO Digital Transformation.
Data and agility are at the heart of Digital Transformation.
In short, Digital Transformation is the ability to produce data, and to make it consumable by anyone who is entitled to, resulting into a decisive operational advantage – data must be seamlessly shared and processed, whatever position, Nation or domain.
It leads to three requirements and one challenge for NATO Allies.
First requirement, to have agile, interoperable capabilities, developed with open architectures, able to evolve rapidly as the environment and needs of our warfighters change.
Because change is inevitable; we must be able to embrace it at the speed of relevance.
Interoperability is a collective responsibility.
- NATO can define the framework, but the implementation is the responsibility of member nations.
- ACT provides an interoperability testing, experimentation and certification environment. Nations must make the most of it, to accelerate their capability cycles.
If not, it would lead to a growing gap between ‘digital allies’ who have embraced Digital Transformation, and the others who would hamper the Alliance’s overhaul Transformation.
Second requirement, to implement a new distributed and connected Command and Control, compatible with the agility we need for conducting Multi-Domain Operations.
Indeed, the verticality of our C2 is a handicap for MDO, because it induces major bottlenecks in the upper part of the decision-making spectrum, which artificial intelligence will not be enough to overcome.
Distribution and connectivity should allow us to restore horizontality. This newfound subsidiarity should lead to significant time savings and a more fluid functioning.
Third requirement, to have the means to securely collect, convey and consume any kind of data, in an “agnostic” manner, i.e. independently of the nature and origin of the data.
This third requirement has several implications.
- It means a lot in terms of cyber intelligence, and cybersecurity.
Like a submarine in the water or an airplane in the air, cyber is the natural environment of data. Mastering this environment is therefore an essential prerequisite for shaping, contesting and fighting in other domains.
- In terms of data exploitation, the mass of information to be processed in a necessarily very short time imposes the use of automated treatments based on Artificial Intelligence.
The purpose of these automatisms is to give the human being – whatever his position: operator, controller or decision-maker – a clear and comprehensible, simplified but relevant representation of reality.
These synthetic representations will allow the real-time monitoring of the environment and a high level of situation awareness.
Seamless Data handling clears the fog of war!
- And AI-based, Assisted Decision-Making tools will become essential as leaders gain access to increasingly detailed situations, the complexity of which is likely to exceed human abstraction capacities.
And now, let me please end my speech on the major challenge we have to face for implementing NATO Digital Transformation.
Sharing. Data sharing. And it’s essentially a political commitment.
Nations must recover the ownership of their own data, so that they are able to collect, and exploit, and share it, irrespective of who are the main industrial contractors.
And that sharing is itself, of course, a political issue. Nations and NATO entities must understand the urgent need to better share Data. The whole logic of digital transformation is centred on data. And when we talk about data, the notion of mass is fundamental.
- If we don’t have enough data, we can’t account for the complexity of our security environment.
- If we don’t have enough data, artificial intelligence doesn’t work; and the Artificial Intelligence tools we need cannot be developed.
- If we don’t have enough data, we are vulnerable to attacks and deception.
We must share more – by breaking down the barriers that prevent us from doing so today – and better – by sharing the right data, as a service, and not a piece of intelligence that must be classified and protected from our own allies.
- If we fail to share better, we won’t be able to implement new agile, modular approach to capability development.
- If we fail to share better, we won’t be able to conduct Multi-Domain Operations, despite our tremendous collective efforts to implementing NATO Digital Transformation.
- If we fail to share better, we will lose our warfighting edge.
We have all the cards in our hands.
We have the will, the skills, and the means to carry out this transformation.
I think Ludwig will agree with me that we can accomplish great things in less than 10 years. It is now up to us to continue on this path, to win together, as a team.
I wish the NCIA a happy 10-year Anniversary!
I thank you for your attention.
Generals and Admirals,
Distinguished hosts and guests.
I am delighted to have the finest communication experts of our 30 nations gathered today in Skopje for this NATO Communicators Conference 2022.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the authorities of North Macedonia for hosting this conference. I extend my gratitude to all those who have participated in the organization of this event.
Here are the right people with the right skills. This should allow us to collectively maintain our lead in an increasingly complex security environment.
Information is a resource that is, and will be, increasingly used to destabilize nations; especially democracies, which are more exposed because of their openness.
What has drastically changed over the past few years is the hyper-connectivity of the world.
It is now possible to actually target people’s minds; to change not only WHAT they think – the Information – but also HOW they think – the Cognition.
As NATO’s Warfare Development Command, ACT has been tasked with providing the best military advice to enable NATO to keep the edge in the Cognitive dimension.
How we do this?
We must first understand, and equip ourselves with the right tools to monitor the environment, to decipher all competing strategies, and to detect malicious actions.
And then, we must counteract, and maintain or regain the initiative.
Take the example of Russia’s war in Ukraine; we have seen that Putin’s political warfare strategy aims to undermine the trust, cohesion, and societal framework of NATO nations, by exploiting our democracy-induced vulnerabilities through below-the-threshold attacks on our core values.
To counter this and shape the environment to our own advantage, NATO must build its resilience as an Alliance, and help each nation to build its own.
Thus, we will ensure NATO maintains its warfighting advantage and safeguards its freedom of action, by protecting our intelligence and our C2.
In this way, NATO will also be able to preserve our way of life and offer security, from assertive authoritarian actors and extremist ideologies, under appropriate ethical and legal frameworks, as agreed by NATO nations.
ACT’s Cognitive Warfare efforts will position NATO to seize the initiative in the cognitive dimension whenever necessary, and to ensure the Alliance is prepared to defend against any cognitive attacks from aggressors.
The Digital Transformation will allow us to drive this ramp-up to cognitive warfare.
By our ability to better share data, NATO’s word will remain strong and reliable.
Because trust is long to gain and quick to lose, we must ensure ours is the first voice to be heard, backed by unfettered facts.
But I know I am talking to eminent specialists.
I must say I am particularly confident in our collective ability to lead this evolution with agility and creativity.
I wish you a very fruitful conference. I look forward to reading your outcomes.
And to the authorities and people of North Macedonia, I wish you a happy Independence Day tomorrow.
Thank you for your attention.
Mrs. Elaine Luria, Congresswoman for Virginia, dear Elaine,
Mr. Kenneth Alexander, Mayor of Norfolk, dear Kenny,
Vice Admiral Dwyer, Commander US Second Fleet and JFC Norfolk, dear Daniel,
General Ruggiero, dear Paolo,
General Badia, dear Chris,
Admiral Robinson, dear Guy,
Chief Master Sergeant Blais, dear Brion,
Admirals, Generals, military authorities,
Distinguished civilian representatives of Hampton Roads communities,
National Liaison Representatives,
HQ SACT Staff, dear colleagues and friends,
It is not without some emotion that I preside today over this ceremony of change of responsibility between General Ruggiero and General Badia.
This marks the end of a year that has been extremely rich in events, but also in lessons, for all of us, for ACT and for NATO in general.
ACT is one of the two Strategic Commands of NATO, and the only one on this side of the Atlantic.
Our mission is to lead NATO’s Transformation; and it’s a big one!
- It means first and foremost to “scan the future”, that is to say to develop capabilities to propose new options to the political leadership…
- It means aligning 30 nations…
- while adopting a 360 approach and a great flexibility, to ensure that we can adapt to the constantly evolving context…
- with the ultimate goal of keeping the advantage.
This begins with understanding our world and the new strategic reality, in its complexity and changing nature.
This understanding must allow us to project ourselves into the future in order to anticipate the capabilities, talents and processes that we will need tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.
Without ever losing sight of those for whom we work, the warfighters of NATO nations.
But being the Warfare Development Command goes beyond developing capabilities;
identifying the skills;
and educating and training our human resource.
It is also a matter of developing cooperation among member nations, taking advantage of the progress of some for the benefit of all.
It is also to establish partnerships, to seek outside what we lack internally; or to help those who can work with us for the peace and stability of our world, of our billion citizens who have entrusted us with the keys to their security.
This is a beautiful and important mission, and to fulfil it, HQ SACT here in Norfolk is not alone.
First, we make the best use of our position in the United States to listen, to share, to brainstorm… and to bring our added-value, in order to win as a team.
We can also count on our three subordinate entities, the Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, the Joint Force Training Centre in Poland and the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre in Portugal.
They bring expertise in specific domains, and their own networks.
And, to be as close as possible to the concerns of our decision-makers, and to the operational needs, Allied Command Transformation has a representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and a Staff Element who sits alongside ACO HQ in Mons.
To lead a command of this magnitude and to assume my responsibilities requires a command team.
This Command Team brings together the FOGOs, the POLAD, the CSEL, the DCOSes and the Branch Heads… and, of course, the Chief of Staff, DSACT and myself.
Let me elaborate a little bit on this trio.
This is a true command tool, ensuring that what we deliver is consistent with the expectations of those who lead us and those who serve in operations.
This tight command team is a source of diversity and a guarantee of efficiency. Because a trio is not a triumvirate. There is a great complementarity and no unnecessary redundancy.
And while, in the domain of Transformation, everything is a matter of networks, working in trio is a force multiplier. Especially when nations appoint their finest minds as DSACT.
General Paolo Ruggiero is a man of achievements and relations.
Together with General André Lanata, he produced the NWCC, which reflects our best strategic thinking, and serve as the Military North Star of the Alliance towards 2040; and he actively contributed to its endorsement by the nations.
What he has accomplished over the past three years as Deputy SACT truly illustrates the modern vision of transformation that ACT promotes.
General Ruggiero has been very helpful in strengthening the bonds with nations through NLRs and PNLRs.
He has put a lot of effort into leveraging the expertise of the various NATO-accredited COEs…
and that’s a huge task, considering there are 28 today, and will be 29 by December, and probably 30 within a year.
I might also mention his role in improving the lessons learned process across NATO.
And of course, the NATO Industry Forum in Roma last year, which attracted over 660 participants, and was unanimously recognized as highly valuable to help strengthen our collaboration with defence, security and tech industries.
Dear Paolo, for the precious help you have provided to General Lanata and myself throughout the last 3 years,
and for all that you have done for ACT and NATO,
Thank you so much!
And of course my thanks and gratitude also go to your wife Holly-Ann.
I told you a trio is a source of diversity, and one could argue that we are about to reduce this diversity by appointing another Air Force General as DSACT… Yes guys, it will be challenging!
Please bear with me if you see me talking with my hands and attacking my wrist watch!
General Chris Badia, you have the difficult task of succeeding general Ruggiero.
Your outstanding professionalism and experience, your huge expertise in Programs and Plans – to name a few – will undoubtedly be valuable for ACT. I am both glad and impatient to start working with you.
We have so many tasks to implement after the Transformative Summit of Madrid!
On behalf of all ACT staff,
- dear Paolo, once again THANK YOU VERY MUCH, as the SecGen is used to say;
- and dear Chris, welcome to the team;
Welcome to ACT;
and Welcome to Cornelia in this wonderful community of Hampton Roads and NATO.
Win as a team!
General Eric Autellet, French Deputy CHoD,
Dr Bryan Wells, NATO Chief Scientist,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me today to share my vision with you on the conflicts of the future, the impact of technology on future capabilities and concepts of the Alliance, and about the role of ACT in their development.
There is a general tendency to think about the character of future wars through the lenses of the present time.
The wars in former Yugoslavia, and especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, between 1992 and 1995, led some scholars to argue that armed conflicts have shifted from primarily state-oriented conflicts involving a mass of soldiers and centralized “top-down” planning – to a series of hybrid or “low intensity” conflicts that involve private contractors, paramilitaries and illegal sponsors.
At the beginning of the 21st century, you may have heard many scholars claim that conventional warfare was officially dead. They contended that political and military leadership must adapt to the new reality that no adversary wants to fight the United States and NATO in a symmetrically conventional fashion.
Ukraine crisis and Russian annexation of Crimea, in 2014, led us to believe that hybrid warfare will be the predominant challenge, a way our adversaries will use to circumvent our conventional military power to achieve their political goals.
And, the Russian aggression on Ukraine brought geopolitics and conventional warfare again on “the stage” of Europe’s soil. It also brought back “irrationality” in international relations because Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine had been unprovoked from a rational stance perspective.
Putin had also overestimated his power and potential to win a quick war, and, at the same time, underestimated Ukraine. The determination of Ukraine’s leadership and people to transform their armed forces with NATO’s assistance, since 2014, and to resist Russian aggression since February this year, turned out to be remarkable.
This example shows how difficult it may be to assess the potential of military power only by examining quantitative parameters.
And, while many things related to that war have been unexpected or wrongly predicted, this conflict serves as a reminder that sustained conventional war hinges on the availability of manpower, materiel, ammunition, and defence industrial capacity to sustain it.
Hence, conventional warfare is not dead, and hybrid warfare may not necessarily be the predominant way of achieving gains below the threshold of an open conflict.
And, when we talk about the war in Ukraine, we must accept that this is not the “model war” we may hypothesize as a potential NATO-Russia war, but just a “type of war”. It is because we are aware that this war is specific to geography, history, strategic narrative and culture, and economic factors, among others.
So, in our strategic thinking we have to go wider and farther … and we do. This is why we say that our NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept is threat-informed but risk and opportunity-based.
In this Concept we take into consideration all relevant current developments in security environment, but we don’t bound ourselves on any of them.
This Concept was endorsed by all NATO Nations, and it takes into consideration all their perspectives – but is comprehensive and inclusive enough to encompass them all and not to limit itself to any specifically.
It is because we know that we cannot derive definite conclusions about the future (security environment) from current trends, no matter how convincing they are. This is why in our strategic thinking we want to go “above and beyond”. Hence, we consider the current developments in the character of warfare as one of the “parameters”, as one of the variables in the “big equation”.
Regarding Technology, and I want to talk about technology with a capital “T” – its development is, certainly, an important variable in scanning the security horizon.
There is no doubt, that Technology has been a key driver of our societies for decades, and especially since the pace of its development accelerated in the very last years.
The recent decades have seen an unprecedented growth and acceleration of technological development thanks in large part to the commercial sector. And, it is especially the case in the digital domain, such as cyber or AI today, and quantum technologies or cognitive warfare tomorrow.
These developments have potential or are already being exploited by all kinds of potential adversaries, from terrorists to our peer or near peer competitors. New technologies, which are widely available, have offered state and non-state actors a multitude of solutions to threaten and create potential disruption well above and beyond what was imaginable a few decades ago.
The ability of potential adversaries to challenge the Alliance and its member nations politically, militarily, and technologically is growing. Technology is, therefore, an important driver of our adaptation, and transformation of our capabilities.
Arguably, technology, especially Emerging and Disruptive Technology, is one of the key drivers of the transformation of NATO defence capabilities.
Facing this challenge, the Alliance decided to adopt the NATO EDT roadmap. Since then, we have focused in particular on AI, Big Data, Autonomy, Space, Quantum Technologies, Biotechnologies, Human Enhancement, and Hypersonics.
I believe that we all agree that behind every successful defence enterprise there is a significant number of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, all working to ensure that warfighters have the best technology, knowledge and know-how to outperform and outsmart potential adversaries.
The North Atlantic Alliance, born in 1949, the longest-running political and military organization in the world, has been so far successfully fulfilling its mission thanks to its cohesion, its deterrence but also its technological edge against adversaries and competitors.
This is why, it is paramount to connect the way we perceive our strategic environment to the most recent evolution of the technological landscape challenges in order to ensure the persistence of this technological superiority of the Alliance.
Of course, there is always a challenge what to choose as priorities, and where to focus. A British (Irish) author and journalist Rebecca West observed that “before the war, military science looked like real science, like astronomy; but after the war it looks more like astrology.” And, this is not because science or technology development failed, but because conflict usually develops in often unprecedented ways.
The risk is, therefore, that we don’t anticipate correctly the type of war(fare), or operations we may be engaged in … and consequently don’t have the right capabilities.
But, this is not the only challenge – time also works against us. We have come to realise that we also must accelerate Transformation in all areas, while ensuring overall coherence. This requires us to adopt new ways of doing things and a more agile approach.
Faced with different challenges and threats in our security environment, its complexity and variety of actors, technology development, and other challenges that multiply the threats, such as pandemics or climate change, we knew we needed a “guide” that would ensure us more proactive and anticipatory approach.
That is the role of NWCC, NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, developed to be our “North Star” concept. With this Concept, we aim at bringing the greatest possible coherence to our efforts to cope with future challenges. And, while we think about a 20 year perspective, it is not a fixed plan for the next 20 years, but the beginning of a process.
And, I am aware there will be doubts and challenges along the way, and we will not always be able to come to definite answers. It is because we are facing a non-linear, complex security environment.
Were we to compare warfare development to physics, we are at the point where we have evolved from understanding the laws of kinetics and electromagnetics, to entering the age of quantum physics. And we too will need to confront the “Uncertainty principle”.
To succeed, we need to factor in a great number of variables, including the changing character of future warfare, with its speed, and blurred lines between systemic competition, crisis and war.
We also have to take into considerations variety of actors, use of disruptive technology, difficulty of attributing cyber threats and attacks, “fighting” in grey zones and hybrid warfare, engaging in Multi-Domain operations, and a coherent civil-military resilience … to name a few.
This is why our Warfare Development Agenda, which sets a plan to implement NWCC, ensures we explore so-called Warfare Development Imperatives, to always be “on track”, and ensure adequate adaptation.
We comprehend that answers to complex issues, due to causalities between the different variables and actors, are rarely binary. Therefore, we are aware that we need to think in terms of trade-offs, and in terms of effects and incremental approaches. Hence my motto: “Think big, act small and fast”, as a steady way to success.
We also know that, to fully succeed in implementing our concepts, we need to accept new paradigms when approaching challenges and proposing new solutions. Our attitude is vital in this effort, or as Winston Churchill put it: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.
It is about creating team spirit, wherever and whenever possible. This is about creating “a fertile ground” for innovation (creativity), agility, and resilience within our organization. NWCC Implementation and the successful adaptation of our Military Instrument of Power to the evolving security environment greatly depend on our ability to maintain our capability and technology edge, but also on this “team mindset”.
At ACT we are aware that NATO’s Transformation must give us the means to face the new challenges.
And, to acquire these tools we, at NATO, have to be innovative and to fully benefit from science and technology. However, to achieve that, we need to assume fully the risk of failure. That is something that is pretty counter-intuitive for the current procurement processes, which have become rigid for some reasons, but that is a fundamental enabler of innovation.
It is interesting to note, for example, that DARPA uses a “failure indicator” that, if too low, proves that they are not innovating hard enough!
In ACT, we have a relatively long tradition of innovation through our Science & Technology Programme of Work, which is executed by the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation.
And, our maritime Science and Technology programme of work is impressive, where autonomous systems, AI technologies, and quantum sensing, developed through this programme are field-tested during exercises or through sea trials.
We also work shoulder to shoulder with the NATO Science and Technology Organization. And, collaboration with NATO STO is essential to understanding the future and helping leverage knowledge and technology in particular.
The lessons we learn every day – including from the war in Ukraine, for instance – the experimentations we conduct, the growing understanding we have of the changing security environment, the emerging and disruptive technologies we monitor and harness, the partnerships with nations, academia and, of course, industry… all help us find the best way to maintain NATO’s technological edge.
ACT is also leading a set of parallel and interconnected efforts across the Alliance to achieve digital transformation by modernising and transforming NATO’s digital capabilities, people and processes.
This is, actually, one of my priorities: to provide the alliance with the ability to conduct Multi-Domain Operations based on digital transformation. By harnessing multi-domain operations, digital transformation must allow us to understand better, to be able to decide faster, and thus be stronger together.
And, along with this “capability-oriented thinking”, we in ACT are also exploring on how to improve our processes and organizational culture.
We think on how to improve and make our acquisition processes more agile and faster, by using, for example, digital twins, to create simulations that can predict how a product or process will perform.
And, we also think about the “whole NATO”, especially on how to use different tools to facilitate agile and “asymmetric” thinking to enhance our Art of Command and support decision-making with new technology.
To conclude, I would say that the role of science and technology is vital for the transformation of NATO’s Military Instrument of Power. To express it in the terminology of strategy development: science and technology connects the ends, ways and means of our efforts, as it is often part of all these three dimensions. In “ends”, it is about maintaining our edge, and in “ways” it is about how we use the technology, both in capabilities and decision making. And, in “means” it is about technology as tools and infrastructure.
And, as a “roof” over it, it is the team spirit that must ensure we are smarter, faster and more creative than our adversaries, in using technology for our defence.
Thank you for your attention.
Ministers, Excellences, generals, admirals,
Distinguished hosts and guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would have liked to be physically with you in Riga. Fortunately, today we are equipped with the technological means to conduct a fruitful dialogue, even over such strategic distances…
We have long entered the communication era, and the military has been quick to realize the importance of STRATCOM. Didn’t Napoleon say that “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets...”?
Since then, technological developments have amplified the importance of information in our security environment. Information is a resource that is and will increasingly be used to destabilize countries, in particular democracies that are exposed through their openness.
While they are not new, disinformation campaigns, fake news, or conspiracy theories, are used to fragment states and polarize the public opinion. Directed towards NATO and its member states, they weaken our democratic values, increase distrust and discontent towards political systems, and promote populist and nationalist movements.
What is new is the pervasiveness of information now being leveraged by our competitors via increasing, diverse and largely unregulated information tools, to influence attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. This is further exacerbated as we actively provide opportunities for demanders to obtain our information and codify our behaviours for manipulation.
You will have seen how certain large multinational companies used this to define and anticipate human behaviour. This growing personal data expose vulnerabilities ready for ‘social engineering’. As for China, these practices give autocracies new tools for information control, and even manipulation and disinformation. The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia offers a blatant illustration of the challenges we now face.
Since 2008 and the return of war in Europe for the first time in the 21st century, Russia has been developing a political strategy to undermine the cohesion of the Alliance. In Ukraine, Russia has systematically used all the instruments of power at its disposal – military, of course, but also diplomatic, economic, cultural and informational – to achieve its goals.
I would argue that Russia’s strategy of political warfare is designed and conducted using this tools specially to undermine trust and cohesion and impact negatively our societal resilience; thus, presenting a great risk to NATO.
Russia’s STRATCOM and cognitive actions have long targeted our one billion citizens with below-the-threshold attacks on NATO’s core values, exploiting our democracy-induced vulnerabilities. They seek to break our willpower by remaining below the threshold that would prompt a warfighting response.
To counter this and shape the environment to our own advantage, NATO must build its resilience as an Alliance, and also help each nation to build its own. We need to strengthen our cohesion, and have our own strategy to better exploit the cognitive dimension, in order to tackle attempts by adversaries, to gain strategic advantage, and to generate the effects needed to safeguard our deterrence and defence posture.
To maintain advantage, preserve freedom of action and actively defend unfettered decision-making, NATO must now develop a Cognitive Warfare capability.
Cognitive Warfare is broader than, but encompasses NATO Strategic Communication, as a holistic approach to counter attempts by adversaries to gain strategic Cognitive advantage within the new hyper-connected operating reality.
Cognitive Warfare is the generation of cognitive effects based on actions in the five military domains and the information environment. Cognitive Warfare leverages hyper-connectivity, the pervasiveness of data, psychological warfare and cognitive sciences to affect not only what people think but also how they think and act.
The Cognitive Warfare concept will propose how NATO can effectively increase the Cognitive resilience of our Military Instrument of Power by enhancing and protecting decision superiority to ensure freedom of action, but could also be applied to our societal Resilience.
This concept will provide a framework for NATO to develop the military instrument of power, by appreciating the implications of the cognitive dimension for the Alliance warfare development, and its accelerated adaptation through defence planning, capabilities and doctrine.
Cognitive warfare directly exploits advances in digital technology, applied both at individual and networked levels, to manipulate the psychological, social and information environment.
You may argue that manipulation and psychological warfare have existed since the dawn of humanity. What has changed is the scale, speed and stealthiness that cognitive technologies now allow.
Our competitors are using Cognitive Warfare to leading people, knowingly and unknowingly, to exacerbate divisions in our societies with implications for the Alliance. Exploiting information technology, they seek to create confusion, false representations, and uncertainty with a deluge of information or misinformation. They use delocalized cyber tools and information to alter our cognitive processes, exploit mental limitations, biases and automatism.
The data provides unprecedented insight into the psychology of targeted groups and individuals, and can lead to distortions in representations and consensus building, altered decision making and inhibited action. The Cambridge Analytica data scandal is an emblematic example of these methods and their potential effects.
Pursued to the fullest, Cognitive Warfare has the potential to destabilize societies, military organizations, and fracture alliances. Sensitivity to cognitive warfare raises many questions and concerns for NATO. How to guard against such attacks? How to detect networked automations that distort and manipulate the information sphere? How to attribute them?
That’s why the conceptualization of Cognitive Warfare is currently being done in Allied Command Transformation. Now more than ever, we need to understand what we are fighting against and how to defend ourselves. We need the contribution of all relevant NATO and national or private entities to help us grasping the outreach of such a complex issue. The Riga STRATCOM Dialogue is certainly the perfect forum to draw attention to this topic.
NATO’s Transformation must give us the means to face these new challenges. This is the sense of my priorities, to provide the alliance with the ability to conduct multi-domain operations based on digital transformation .By harnessing multi-domain operations, digital transformation must allow us to understand better, to be able to decide faster, and thus be stronger together.
Everything starts with understanding the information environment.
Our Capability Development Directorate is currently working on the Information Environment assessment, which can provide detailed analysis of the Information Environment in order to enhance the speed, connectivity and effectiveness of STRATCOM.
It will protect and enhance our decision making through the exploration of the Cognitive Warfare Concept and the overarching Cognitive Superiority Warfare Development Imperative that connects it to other key transformational work. The goal is to recognise, respond to and repel cognitive threats under appropriate ethical and legal frameworks as agreed by NATO nations.
ACT’s Cognitive Warfare efforts will position NATO to seize the initiative in the cognitive dimension whenever necessary, and ensure the Alliance is prepared to defend against any cognitive attacks from aggressors. Thus, we will ensure NATO maintains its warfighting advantage and safeguards its freedom of action, to protect our way of life and offer security from assertive authoritarian actors and extremist ideologies.
These cognitive warfare effort is part of the Warfare Development Agenda, the backbone of our work for the next 20 years. ACT is leading a set of parallel and interconnected efforts across the Alliance to achieve digital transformation by modernising and transforming NATO’s digital capabilities, people and processes. At an age of data predominance, technologies such as AI or quantum computing will probably significantly extend the Cognitive Warfare in the coming years. We must make data resilient too!
We must accelerate Transformation in all areas, while ensuring overall coherence. We need to adopt new ways of doing things and a more agile approach, and this of course includes STRATCOM.
This new state of mind materializes in different ways.
- First, by a work of thinking and conceptualization. It’s useful, a concept! It helps us speak the same language, and aligns 30 nations to pave the way towards increased interoperability and integration.
- Second, through an incremental approach which aims at thinking big, acting small and fast, to scale up. We must take advantage of every opportunity, every exercise to experiment new ideas and capabilities, and deduce standards and way ahead. I hope there’s no NATO-led exercise today without any STRATCOM component.
- Third, we must expand our networks and build relationships with all relevant actors, be it military, governmental or multi-national corporations and organisations, in order to seek solution for problems that will inevitably arise.
- And fourth, we need to educate and train our people, from soldiers to political leaders, to a high level of maturity. This will enhance the overall understanding of the cognitive dimension, allow the conception of intelligent systems for assisted decision-making that take into account a set of cognitive, human biases to be resilient, and thus strengthen our unity.
It can also contribute to the regulation of the Information Environment, hampering our adversaries’ and competitors’ strategies.
For instance, on ethical and legal questions, collaboration with the EU, which develops a Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Toolbox, could be mutually beneficial. But the diversity of the audience today makes me think that this shouldn’t be difficult for STRATCOM people to use their networks…
I will conclude with perhaps the most important thing. While empowering ourselves to drive the narrative, we must never surrender our principles and values. When Russia seeks to confuse the narrative and China to control it, NATO must speak first and always tell the truth. As we have during the Russian war in Ukraine.
I now look forward to exchanging views with you. Thank you for your attention.
Général d’armée aérienne Philippe LAVIGNE
- Mr Giedrimas Jeglinskas, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management,
- Mr Piotr Naimski, Secretary of State,
- Colonel Konrad Korpowski, Direcor of the Government Centre for Security,
- Representatives of allied and partner nations and organizations,
- Distinguished guests,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
Here we already are at the end of this symposium!
Let me first thank my team for organizing this event, and also thank the Polish Ministry of Defence for hosting this event and making it so informative and enjoyable, from the beginning to the end! A special thanks to you Konrad and your team, Ms Marta Podkowska and Mr Slawomir Lazarek. Also, thank you Vlasta and all your ACT team. Thank you!
At the opening session, I said that I hoped we would learn new ideas from each other, which we could adopt to further improve our work in this important area of resilience. I certainly learned a lot and we can say that this symposium has been a huge success!
There have been many interesting topics discussed during these two days, and good lessons identified. We have shared a lot, and we have to continue to build upon it.
Thank you, Mr, Thankey for your takeways from this symposium.
I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on resilience and potential way ahead.
- First – resilience is first and foremost a national responsibility. It requires political commitment, dedicated organization, money, choices, and prioritization.
- Second – civil-military cooperation is of the utmost importance for strong resilience, in order to generate unity of effort. This collaboration requires trust between political, civilian and military authorities. It also requires the will and the capability to share data in a whole-of-government approach.
- Third – since resilience is the ability to absorb strategic shocks, we need to reduce the risk of such a shock happening. We must know how to shape and contest the environment, to win war before it happens.
- Four – about the effect of the war in Ukraine on our resilience: we need to be dynamic rather than static; proactive rather than passive. This war has also demonstrated the importance of the Space domain for state resilience, with solutions that can be brought by partner nations and also by non-state actors, such as Space X.
- Five – to deter an enemy, we need to project force and strength; and we also need to project resilience.
- Six – resilience requires training our people. We have to focus on the “dynamic part” of our exercises, but also on interagency cooperation, including civilian participation in military exercises. We also need to consider using new ways of training and education to strengthen our resilience, including experimentation, wargaming, modelling and simulation, and other modern tools.
- Seven – regarding Energy Resilience: we need to adapt and rethink (e.g. fuel inventory and procurement) and we need to transform (e.g. consumption patterns, new energy sources).
- Eight – societal resilience, a question of trust, of “distribution” of resilience and education of our youth. Because resilience is also a question of spirit.
- Finally, while resilience is a national responsibility, it is also a collective commitment in which we need to leverage our partners.
Hence, we need to modernize and transform our organizations through digital transformation, to have the right tools to share data. We also need to educate our people on new technologies and innovation.
In this area, where military and civilian cooperation is key, NATO needs to take advantage of complementarity with the European Union. We need this cooperation to be more resilient as a team!
Let me reiterate the method we must follow in building resilience too: “Think big, Act Small and Fast”.
The war in Ukraine has reset the strategic and geopolitical context of NATO, Europe and the wider world. Consequently, the real challenge for the forthcoming NATO’s Strategic Concept will be to capture that change and the changes to come by 2030 and beyond and get in front of it. Progressing in building resilience will remain an important part of our efforts to face these challenges.
That is why we have to work together, to succeed as a team.
Thank you for your participation and attention.
Mr Mariusz Błaszczak, Minister of National Defence of Poland;
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome (again) to the Resilience Symposium organized by NATO Allied Command Transformation and the Polish Ministry of Defence, and welcome to the wonderful city of Warsaw. I am using this opportunity to warmly thank our hosts for having us in Poland these three days. Thank you.
After having had two successfully organized Resilience Conferences by Allied Command Transformation in recent years, we are continuing in this, symposium format, aiming at outreaching to a broader audience, particularly civilian, including academic and scientific.
It is because resilience requires a comprehensive, holistic approach, and because of strong interdependencies. To be successfully built, resilience requires successful collaboration between civilian and military stakeholders and must consider these two mutually reinforcing layers.
In NATO, we realized the significance of building resilience, as a measure to respond to, and to protect against the threats of hybrid warfare, incarnated in Russian behaviour in shaping international relations, which culminated with the so-called Ukraine crisis, in 2014.
However, it was not the first time resilience had been introduced in NATO. The principles of resilience were already built into the NATO founding act, the North Atlantic Treaty, in its Article 3, in 1949.
In Article 3, parties agree to “separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”
Accordingly, resilience is recognized in NATO as a national responsibility but, also, as the collective imperative, because it underpins deterrence and defence. And, credible deterrence and defence is NATO’s first and foremost concern, which, arguably, depends on the stability and functionality of our societies and our economies.
We are aware that democracy and values we hold dear bring opportunities, but also risks. Our openness, political, economic and individual freedoms may sometimes be exploited by our adversaries, who target our vulnerabilities. And, resilience is, in a practical sense, about the ability and capacity to fill the vulnerability gaps.
It is, as we define it, the capacity to resist and recover from shock, absorb the damage, and resume functions as quickly and efficiently as possible. Resilience is, therefore, about adaptability, agility, and, ideally, the ability to undertake alternative ways, which requires flexibility.
It is, therefore, of ultimate importance to have a holistic understanding and recognition of where shortfalls and vulnerabilities exist, and of the factors and trends that shape them. This will help the Alliance determine risks, prioritise mitigation, and strengthen enablement, readiness and responsiveness.
And, effective resilience is, as we witness that in the example of Ukraine, as well as in Poland and many other European countries, also dependent on peoples’ spirit.
I would draw a parallel here with the military instrument of power. To be effective, it, roughly, needs to comprise the right capabilities (means to fight), right strategies and doctrines (ways to fight), and the fighting spirit.
That means: motivation, discipline, commitment, courage, leadership, or, shortly, willingness to sacrifice for the nations’ political ends.
There is no better example today than Ukrainian people and its leadership that shows how superior morale, determination, and adaptive strategies and tactics can match overwhelming military capabilities.
I believe, these constitutive elements are equally important for resilience. We need capacity (to ensure the “backup”), we need procedures (to recover), and we need that “spirit”, to ensure commitment, adaptability and creativity that will make resilience “alive” and successful.
As you can see, I touched here on one delicate topic, which we may call “cognitive dimension”, which is also worth examining. It is about ethical and moral aspects that we need to have not only in our governments and specialized services … but in the whole society.
Societal resilience, in order to succeed rests on, above all, inspired, dedicated, and committed people.
This cognitive dimension, the perception and decision process of our citizens, is, however, also exposed to malicious influence. Spread of fake news, relativisation of truth and facts, sawing the seed of mistrust in democratic institutions and traditions … are among the risks we have to take into account.
So, and this is a rhetorical question, how can we counter these negative influences, and not lose any freedom we have achieved (such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press etc.)?
Today, we see that the risks for our societies are not coming only from state or non-state actors but also from what we may call “threats without threateners”, such as pandemics and rising challenges of climate change, which all puts an increasing importance on resilience.
In ACT, my command, we are very aware of that. And, although we focus primarily on developing assessments to support military resilience, we take into consideration resilience as a whole. So, while we progress in building resilience in areas such as command and control, warfighting capability, situational understanding, logistics, military infrastructure, among others, we approach resilience by constantly keeping in mind the broader context.
We, therefore, take into consideration the changing strategic environment, including climate change, energy security, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, and demographic change, to name a few.
Here I want to take energy security as an example. It, obviously, emerged as a very important topic since relations between the West and Russia deteriorated, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This topic is an example of complexity related to security, and it affects us all, and the military is not exempted from that.
Our operational energy, the blood of our combat capabilities, which is still based mainly on fossil fuels, are also dependent on the energy supplies of our nations.
While we (especially European countries) face risks in supplies and prices, this situation should also be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to transition towards renewable sources of energy wherever possible. This direction would minimize dependencies and also benefit efforts to counter negative consequences of climate change, by decreasing the carbon footprint.
We, in ACT, understand and develop military resilience as a layer of the broader Alliance Resilience, and it has a renewed emphasis in NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC). This is why ACT works on so-called Layered Resilience, as one imperative of the Warfare Development Agenda, which serves as an implementation plan of the NWCC.
This way, Layered Resilience is one of the priorities alongside other key activities in ACT, including development of the Resilience Network, Net Assessment, Digital Transformation and Multi-Domain Operations. And, it will be developed through 8 agreed Thematic Working Groups. I also want to emphasize that the Allies’ Chiefs of Defence recognized Layered Resilience as a priority in the NWCC framework.
NWCC advocates that resilience requires a layered approach comprising mutually reinforcing layers of military and civil resilience, with numerous connecting points and interdependencies. And, it is precisely civil preparedness and civil resilience, the two aspects that ACT is seeking to influence, and where we offer our support and are eager to cooperate.
Partnering is vital to strengthening resilience. Cooperation and team work are, therefore, the best ways to achieve meaningful results.
This is where ACT has already achieved some results, in partnering with the UN, and the EU, in particular.
During this event, ACT staff will be demonstrating our Modelling and Simulation Training Technology resilience tool, and Resilience Integrated Project Team’s display during the Symposium, and I proudly invite you to join these presentations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for participating. I am sure that the outcomes of our discussions during these two days will be beneficial and will open some new perspectives. I hope, and I am sure, we will learn some new ideas from each other.
Moreover, I invite all of us to use the best of our knowledge and creativity to discuss all the different topics on our agenda. This will help us develop our way ahead and plans afterwards.
I expect that this symposium will allow us, at ACT, to expand our views and perspectives on resilience and to further improve our Resilience Concept. I also expect we, together, will be able to identify priorities and areas of closer cooperation between military and civilian stakeholders.
Thank you for your attention and I wish you two fruitful and exciting days.
 One example is the establishment of a joint UN-NATO three year project to assist Jordan in improving its preparedness in the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons)
 Comprises staff-to-staff consultations and practical cooperation in number of areas.
- Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Dear Secretary General,
- Dear permanent representatives, dear ambassadors,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
It is both an honour and a pleasure to address the NAC for my first time as SACT. I would like to thank you to have dedicated some of your time and consideration to ACT, and allow me to personally present to you ideas and proposals articulated in my 90 days letter.
I see the most important aspect of NATO’s transformation, and its main objective, in collectively ensuring NATO’s decisive advantage. This is critical for our relevance and ensuring we maintain the status of the most successful Alliance in history. We owe it to the 1 billion people we protect and secure.
To do that, we have to take into consideration all the challenges we face, in order to adapt our Military Instrument of Power at the right pace.
We need this adaptation because our security environment is changing fast. Competition is permanent. Escalation has become non-linear. This environment is complex, and therefore, uncertain.
Hence, my vision to achieve our objectives, which is: to improve our Alliance’s ability to understand better, to decide faster and to be stronger together.
By “understand better” I mean we need the ability of chess players, to understand the causalities and anticipate the consequences of several “moves” in advance. We need to see “the mosaic” while it is still in fragments.
Our need, in essence, is to be able to acquire full, and collective, situational awareness. With this awareness, our Alliance will be better placed to shape the environment and win the “battle of opportunities”. We will be better able to understand our strengths and our vulnerabilities.
This also includes being aware of the main trends in Russian military thought and strategy, and the challenges that may emerge as a consequence of the new assertiveness of China.
As an example, I would like to point out what General Gerasimov said on the Russian “strategy of active defence”, which represents their response to current and foreseen threats.
[and I quote] “… [by] acting quickly, we should pre-empt the enemy with our preventive measures, promptly identify his vulnerabilities and create threats of unacceptable damage to him. This ensures the capture and retention of the strategic initiative”. [end of quote].
We also must seek to anticipate the impact of new, emerging technologies on defence and security matters. And we must take into consideration potential consequences from threat multipliers such as climate change and pandemics.
I want to highlight that ACT is regularly contributing to strategic thinking, including recently on offence/defence convergence and escalation management.
My second objective is to decide faster than our adversaries. And, when I say “we”, I think about accelerating and improving the decision-making in the continuum – from political decision making to tactical action.
Timely decision making is crucial for engaging in the complex, uncertain security environment. It helps us to not only to react faster, but position ourselves to even better anticipate.
In this area, we intend to work on the creation of realistic scenarios for our analyses, particularly with Wargaming realistic scenarios, which will be augmented with advanced technology, such as Artificial Intelligence. This will allow us to better understand the context and decide faster, on all levels.
And, finally, the third objective, timely understanding and the ability to decide swiftly will reinforce the cohesion of the Alliance – in order to be stronger together.
This is about maximizing our coherence, which is necessary in an environment where challenges are multifaceted and often hidden, difficult to attribute or categorize. From an operational standpoint, this means ability to integrate different operational domains (including space and cyber), making us capable of operating in a Multi-domain environment, by engaging both in kinetic and non-kinetic actions.
This is why we must think and act towards closer cooperation with governmental agencies, academia, industry and the scientific community. And, we must have the ability to better leverage existing networks and pull the expertise from within Nations. These efforts will allow us to win as a team!
The critical milestone to achieve this vision will be the implementation of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC) through the Warfare Development Agenda.
In addition, I will focus on two priorities:
The first priority, that will be at the heart of the Warfare Development Agenda and central to its success, is Digital Transformation. This ambitious agenda aims at allowing our Alliance to fully take advantage of our data. It involves the establishment of capabilities and services that will be designed around this data and will allow to maximize its potential in a secure way. A core asset will be the “digital backbone”.
This asset will allow us to make data shareable for different levels of decision making, across all operational domains: Land, Maritime, Air, Cyber and Space.
However, as a prerequisite, we need the willingness of Nations to share information! … the willingness … to share … information!
The second priority, and it is again speed-related, I want to ensure the delivery of new, critical capabilities – on time. It is essentially about the agility of our processes.
And, it is particularly the case with the software development. As we successfully implement the new governance model for Common Funded Capabilities, we need to establish rapid pathways for software acquisition. Several member nations have already started to implement such pathways.
I also want to leverage experimentation, whenever possible, in particular during exercises. This will shorten our capability development cycles and allow our warfighters to use and familiarize themselves with new technologies to accelerate change.
In short, we need to change the rules and make them work for us, not against us.
And, finally, I would like to present to you the “enablers”, which will allow me to achieve my vision.
First, it is to innovate – a key to delivering my priorities. I see innovation as a continuous effort that must permeate the way we think about capability development.
This is why ACT will apply innovation in all that we do and will continue to provide innovative solutions to the warfighters, through our Innovation Hub, and in support of DIANA. We deem connecting warfighters with warfare developers as vital for the success of innovation.
Second, collaboration and cooperation. An effective relationship between political leadership and our military team is at the heart of my vision.
I will endeavour to promote seamless communication, shared knowledge and trust among Allies and Partners, through inclusivity, transparency and networks. This will accelerate decision-making and strengthen the resilience of the Alliance.
Moreover, ACT will leverage its unique location on US soil through a dedicated engagement plan with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the innovation ecosystems and US Academia.
I also intend to maximize the benefits of having NATO’s accredited centres of excellence, and will reinforce our interactions with academia, industry and the European Union.
And, to increase our readiness, we need to train together and be able to operate together. Hence interoperability, which will remain at the heart of our capability development.
Finally, the third, it is our human capital. This is our most valuable resource. I will strive to cultivate talent through our training and exercises, especially in support of data and digital transformation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank you very much again for all the support you have given and give to ACT. I count on your future support to my transformational agenda and I appreciate your efforts to engage your Nations in contributing to NATO’s mission.
Thank you for your attention.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
It is with a great pleasure I close this year’s activities related to the Exercise Cyber Coalition 2021.
We all may be proud of what we have achieved, because Cyber Coalition is one of the largest cyber exercises in the world, with a realistic scenario that allows participants to practice responding to cyber incidents.
And, I am very much aware that the success of this exercise depended on the voluntary work and workforce provided by Nations and individuals. And, this is why I appreciate very much and thank to all Nations and individuals who contributed to it.
More than 1,000 people from across the Alliance, the agency’s experts, Partner Nations and the European Union participated in the exercise. The NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Joint Warfare Centre, Joint Force Command Brunssum, NATO Rapid Reaction Teams and multiple entities from NATO Headquarters, industry and academia, all together participated in the exercise.
For us in NATO, this exercise allows our Cyberspace Operations Centre the opportunity to develop reporting requirements within cyberspace and examine new tactics, techniques, and procedures.
In terms of warfare development, it is important because it supports the military readiness of the Alliance, through our collective capacity to respond, and, in the long term, promotes collaboration and interoperability.
And, this exercise perfectly demonstrated that interoperability does not relate only to the technical aspects, or to say “the hardware”, but also on how to operate, including procedures or the doctrinal aspects.
The importance of Cyberspace increases day by day. Cyberspace has become crucial for NATO’s mission – hence the intense focus on cyber adaptation to ensure effective cyber security of the NATO enterprise.
But the Cyber domain is not just another domain, because what happens in that domain may impact our effectiveness in all other domains. Hence, its importance for our ability to engage in Multi-Domain Operations.
We declared cyberspace as a domain of operation in order to ensure unhindered access and freedom of manoeuvre in cyberspace during Allied Operations and Missions.
In addition, as the cognitive domain, cognitive warfare and cognitive superiority have been identified in our NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, cyberspace is considered the main vehicle for this.
We are also aware that cyberattacks may affect critical infrastructure in our societies, which puts an emphasis on resilience, making cyber defence a complex endeavour.
This is why, this Exercise enhances the Alliance ability to conduct cyberspace operations for military and civilian entities by exercising the development of situational awareness, sharing of cyberspace intelligence, and the conduct of cyber incident management.
Also, this Exercise was a great way to strengthen the existing mechanisms for interaction between NATO, Allies and Partners to improve collaboration within the cyberspace domain.
We, again, proved to be able work collectively on facing threats that are emerging in this domain, focusing on coordination, collaboration, information sharing, and experimentation.
This exercise was also an ideal environment for innovation, experimentation, concept development and requirements identification.
I will, in particular, highlight the fact that two experiments were being conducted during this exercise: Cyberspace Situational Awareness and Cyber Deception Techniques, with participation of ACT, ACO, nations, CCD CoE (the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence), industry and academia.
This way, we fulfilled our intent to use every opportunity to experiment during exercises.
I thank, once again, our hosts, organizers, and participants, and congratulate them on producing so many useful outcomes for our warfare development.
I am looking forward to seeing you in the same format next year. Thank you.
Mr Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General,
Dear Ambassadors, members of the North Atlantic Council,
Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee,
Mr Camille Grand, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, mon cher Camille,
Senior Industry leaders from all Allied nations,
Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome back to the second day of our NIF 2021.
Yesterday, we had lots of incredibly interesting presentations and discussions on technologies that affects and are, therefore, vital for NATO in ensuring its relevance and developing its capabilities.
We continue, today, with our plenary sessions focusing thematically more on our strategic context and “strategic NATO”.
I, therefore, consider it important to elaborate a little bit more on our security environment, following my yesterdays’ introduction.
In short, our security environment is characterized by its non-linearity. It is, instead, complex, which means that there exists no proportionality and no simple causality between the magnitude of responses and the strength of their stimuli. Sometimes, allegedly small changes, events that don’t seem like a threat, can have striking and unanticipated effects, whereas great stimuli will not always lead to drastic consequences.
The lines between systemic competition, crisis and war are blurred, which is also the case for forward and rear, of virtual and physical. This leads us to prepare and act in a much different way than before. Today, and in the future, we will have to proactively shape our environment, contest adversarial behaviour and, if needed, fight.
What used to be a war throughout history, is today rather competition or “conflictuality” of all kind, across the spectrum of operational domains. And war today has multiple faces, where an armed conflict is just one of them.
This “conflictuality” also leads to extension of conflict into new domains for which physical borders are irrelevant, like Cyber, Space or the Cognitive domain, where any kind of actor can challenge our military instrument of power and our societies, often anonymously.
We also observe the combination of effects in these domains, which requires from us to be ready to engage in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).
However, while ability to engage in Multi-Domain Operations is vital for our Joint Warfare, we also face challenges of the irregular warfare, hybrid and grey zone conflicts or competition. And we have to deal with escalation/de-escalation scenarios, something we haven’t done much in the last 20 years.
Our challenge is, therefore, to seamlessly manoeuvre through the entire spectrum of warfare, to include, of course, kinetic effects.
Along with these challenges in security environment, we see the fundamental shift in the technological paradigm with our adversaries challenging our edge and the civilian sector acting as the lead innovator, especially in the domain of data and computation.
And, on “top of that”, we are faced with so called “threats without threateners”, such as pandemics and climate change, that will cause instabilities and represents the “threat multiplier”.
And, these long term challenges are in our focus too. For example, regarding NATO’s commitments in facing the consequences of climate changes we see them as “dual”.
It is to deal with (1) consequences, for example: with flooding of military bases, with openings the flows along the Arctic paths, immigration etc. … and (2) with causes.
This includes support to “greening” of our defence capabilities and transitions in the area of operational energy, for example, when and where it is possible.
All these developments in our security environment require from us to adapt. And, adaptation in NATO became an imperative for maintaining our relevance and ensuring our advantage … plus, to avoid strategic risk.
After 2014, we have observed the “return of geopolitics”. This was triggered by the “Ukraine crisis” and deteriorated relations with Russia but later included concerns of the “strategic behaviour” of China. Consequently, we, in NATO, put higher focus, or, rather, “refocused” on so called warfare development.
We also realized that we needed more concrete and straightforward tool to ensure the coherent, proactive development of our capabilities.
Hence NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC) and the Concept for Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA), and their respective implementation plans. These two concepts, agreed by Nations, allow us to launch key structuring works for the future of our forces.
NWCC is envisaged to ensure flexibility, by adapting continuously to security environment in heading towards 2030.
In implementation of NWCC, we intend to exchange actively with the Nations to synchronize these efforts, and identify the priorities which will make the difference tomorrow. Multi-domain operations should be central to this work.
For ACT, my Command, the main goal is to ensure the most relevant identification of military requirements, in support of NATO’s adaptation. And, this is where Industry comes to play as an integral part of that capability development ecosystem, crucial both for deterrence and defence.
The more we work closely together, the stronger our military instrument of power is … and, therefore, more secure we are!
In cooperation with industry, we want:
First, to make sure we (NATO) are able to move from a platform-centric development to a system-centric approach.
In other words, we need to move from acquisition programmes developed independently from each other, operating, sometimes, in stove pipes, making us struggling to integrate them in a consistent global architecture. It is about designing an open architecture, in which our different systems can operate collaboratively in a multi-domain environment.
And, second, we want to work, together with Industry, on what needs to be done to be more agile collectively to ensure quicker delivery.
My conviction is that NATO’s adaptation should focus on our ability to better understand our environment (and our adversaries), decide faster, which requires to be more agile, and be more connected and interoperable, to be stronger together. We need to adapt together and synchronize our efforts!
And, in “understanding our environment”, one important thing is to anticipate what is vital and where to focus our efforts to ensure credibility and relevance of our deterrence and defence.
One of these vital resources is data. What used to be oil (petroleum), especially during and after World War I, when it emerged as a strategic global asset … it is now, more and more, data!
Today, the speed is of utmost importance, especially in decision making, and is crucial for the effectiveness and efficiency of our operational capabilities.
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is quoted as saying, “In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”
Hence, data! Data fuels our processes and systems, and everyone goes after it.
Data is relevant to one important capability that has to be developed in NATO to succeed and be effective in Multi-Domain Operations … and it is our C2, Command and Control, our communication and data backbone.
Here, we need a vision of a future C2 architecture, in which data is available in a cloud to allies and partners. We also need a transition plan from now to that vision, on how to operationalize it.
However, we have two problems to fully benefit from our collective data availability: (1) data are not shareable because of proprietary locks, which are imposed by developers, and/or (2) because of national policies, due to distrust and unwillingness to share them.
These issues could be partly overcome by the fact that we don’t need to share everything related to particular data, for example, its source … but what is relevant for everybody to get the “whole picture”.
That’s why, what we need is “data discoverability”, to ensure that data format is not the most important requirement but its “shareability”. This requires to develop technics to tag data and its meta-data to be able to share what we want.
The new digital infrastructure will also allow to move data not only “horizontally” across domains but also “vertically”, and allies and partners would be able to access data according to their credentials.
Further progress in this domain would also be to develop algorithms for data analytics, to allow predictive C2 capability.
We need to progress ambitiously in developing this “Alliance’s data backbone”, and we can work on it via an incremental approach. And I am convinced that Nations will follow if they see tangible results.
My belief is also that we need to continue, even more ambitiously, with our innovation efforts in NATO.
That means we need to be more open, think through, and rethink our acquisition processes. Most importantly, we need to help creating a new mindset, to ensure more flexibility, agility and speed in our processes.
We also need to leverage the research development effort from industry, ensuring rapid prototyping.
Innovation, however, is not an end state, it is a way to an end. And, we want these (innovation) efforts to be done in close cooperation among Allies’ and partners’ governments, academia and industry. The teamwork is crucial for success!
Take as an example quantum technology. We are interested in all the three major categories of this technology: quantum sensing, quantum communication, and quantum computing.
In this field, our (ACT’s) Maritime Science and Technology Programme of Work is impressive, where autonomous systems, AI technologies, and quantum sensing, developed through this programme are field-tested during exercises or through sea trials.
Since most of these technologies are still in the laboratory, we are very interested to follow its developments and, when possible, test it in the most realistic environment possible. Whether this technology will be applicable for civil and military use in three or ten years, we would like to understand it already, and know where to implement it in our existing capabilities.
We are also aware that our “innovation outcomes” have to be sustainable, deployable and robust, which is far more demanding than the technology developed for the market, because it will be immediately contested once used in potential conflict.
This is why we need a close cooperation between warfighters (“the customers”) and producers of technology, to ensure that the innovations, technologies and the processes, which we implement in our capabilities are fully relevant and benefit our operational requirements.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have full confidence that we will have fascinating and enlightening debates during today’s plenaries.
Thank you for your attention.
Excellences, dear ambassadors,
Mr Lorenzo Guerini, Italian Minister of Defence,
Mr Camille Grand, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, mon cher Camille,
Leaders and representatives from industry,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished guests, from around the globe,
Good morning and welcome to Rome and to Italy, our Host Nation for this year’s NATO Industry Forum, or NIF, as we call it.
It is my real honour and a great privilege for me, together with my co-host Mr Camille Grand, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, to welcome you to this live event.
Thank you all for coming, since your participation and contributions are what made this event possible.
And, thank you, above all, to the NATO teams and our hosts, the Italian authorities, for organizing this year’s Forum in this wonderful place.
For this year’s NIF, literally “all roads lead to Rome”, as this event is a “great finale” for what we had been doing since the last NIF in Washington D.C. in 2019.
I am particularly glad to have with us today so many distinguished representatives from the “production sector”, both from what we call “traditional” and the “non-traditional defence industry.”
For that matter, I am convinced that the borders between these two will increasingly fade as we seek to address the requirements of our defence capability development.
This is the result of changes in our security environment that continues to evolve at a tremendous pace, requiring us in turn (both NATO and Nations) to continuously adapt … in order to preserve our relevance.
When I was a kid, watching and reading science fiction, including popular movies, series and books you may also be familiar with, I was fascinated by the devices used to fight, communicate or transport, which were available to the characters in those stories.Lasers, holograms, instant communication, wide availability of data and information, Space, incredible speed … or artificial intelligence … everything looked so fantastic. Think just of HAL 9000 (a supercomputer with AI capabilities) from Stanley Kubricks’ “2001: A Space Odyssey”, with all its “intellectual” power, “social skills” and legal and ethical issues associated with him!And, today, we are living with many of those “fantasies”! They are part of our everyday live. However, along with benefits that progress has brought us, we are also faced with a great many challenges … because this widely available technology can and often is used against us and our way of life.
We observe today that the traditional lines between systemic competition, crisis and war are increasingly blurred. As are the former differences between forward and rear, between virtual and physical.
Our environment is characterized by persistent competition, with competitors determined to shape the environment, challenge the liberal world order and who are investing heavily in their military capabilities, while also seeking to circumvent the deterrence we have built on our military power by remaining below “the threshold of conflict” to look beyond NATO’s Article 5.
This is typified for instance by the form of “Unrestricted warfare”, the concept which two senior Chinese colonels developed in their 1999 book.
This “asymmetry” causes conflict to expand into new domains where physical borders are irrelevant, like Cyber, Space or the cognitive domain, where a number of new or existing players can challenge our military instrument of power and our societies, often anonymously, especially since attribution may prove challenging or even impossible.
This is, certainly, challenging for the military, since we need to understand the broader context in which our military instrument of power will be developed, and create the frameworks to proactively shape the environment in which this instrument will be used.
To illustrate our challenge, think of the fragment of verse written by the 7th-century BC Greek poet Archilochus, which reads: “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
Obviously, we, the military, are the hedgehog
However, while the “one big thing” we need to know is how to provide efficient deterrence and defence, we also need to know the “many things”, that may offer challenges, but also opportunities that relate to a central, all-embracing system of security and defence.
And, this is why, facing this “extension of conflictuality”, we expand our engagements in other operational domains, even when they are not “weaponized” in the classical sense of that word.
And, this is where we need you, our industry partners.
I consider our defence industrial base an integral part of our (military) instrument of power, particularly for the development of our defence capabilities. Industry is therefore a genuine part of the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture.
And, this is the reason why we need to maintain a quality dialogue with our “industrial eco-system” about the “production” of our defence capabilities.
For us, in NATO, it is vital we understand the prospects of new technologies and in particular their potential to become disruptive regarding security. And in so doing, it is vital that we encompass both dimensions of this technology … technology as a challenge (potential threat) and technology as an opportunity.
However, the fact is that the defence sector no longer has the exclusive control over the development and availability of defence technologies, since so much innovation and technology progress is now driven by the market. And, for most of these developments, we are no more than customers.
But our intent is to use these security relevant technologies, implement them in our capability development, ensure they are interoperable and make sure they are used in the most effective way possible.
That will require we out-think our adversaries and avoid strategic surprises. Which is why the transformation of our capabilities and of the way we conduct war must be a permanent process (as it is the essence of adaptation), and it implies a permanent dialogue between the actors of that transformation – warfighters and producers.
ACT, by representing the capability needs of warfighters, is paving the way for Allied Command Operations to be successful today and tomorrow, by integrating Nations’ efforts in warfare development. That way, we support ACO by building the “capability blocks” and dealing with legacy systems, by integrating them into the Alliance’s new capabilities, whenever possible.
Being a part of NATO’s “big wheel” responsible for defence planning and facilitation of Alliance’s capability development, ACT is also responsible for identifying military requirements. We are, therefore, the catalyst for adapting NATO’s military instrument of power.
In cooperation with industry, we want (1) to make sure we (NATO) are able to move from a platform-centric development to a system-centric approach, and (2) to solve, together with Industry, what needs to be done to be more agile collectively to ensure quicker delivery.
ACT (and NATO as a whole) needs industry to help it maintain this new defence and security ecosystem. ACT, and other NATO stakeholders responsible for capability development, are therefore a part of one shared community with Industry. We need you, you need us!
We face an uncertain future – but we face it together. My message to my NATO’s colleagues is, therefore: Let’s be bold enough to embrace innovation, smart enough to grow our agility, and open enough to learn from Allies’ industries. We can win (only by working) together – as a team, and I am excited about that shared future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I count very much on our exchanges today and tomorrow, and I am sure they will be fruitful.
ACT is open to cooperating with you to facilitate the future work you and the NATO member Nations can carry out. And, just to remind you, ACT is a NATO stakeholder with the largest established network of partners, including industry, academia, COEs, and scientific and innovation community.
I strongly believe that this Forum allows us to reinforce the bonds – bonds that go beyond a simple business partnership – that strengthen our instruments of power. And, doing so, contribute to our security.
I wish you all promising and fruitful exchanges during this event. I expect fresh and new ideas, and I am sure that this event will lead to concrete outcomes.
Thank you very much for your attention!
Mister Minister of Defence of Portugal, dear Minister,
Members of the European Council, European Parliament, European Commission, European External Action Service, European Military Committee and EUMS,
Representatives from Ministries of Defence, Armed forces, research and technology organizations, industry and academia,
Chief executive of the European Defence Agency, dear Jiri,
Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning!
I am delighted to be here, physically in Lisbon, alongside Portuguese authorities, in this marvellous country. I want to thank the EDA for organizing this event. Despite the COVID restrictions which do not allow us to meet in person, I feel necessary to discuss together this important question: the impact of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (‘EDTs’) on Defence.
As I am addressing a well informed audience, I offer to focus my remarks around a number of cross-cutting considerations rather than discussing the impact of specific EDTs that would probably teach you nothing.
No doubt that Technology (with a capital T) is a key driver of our societies for decades and especially since the pace accelerated in the very last years.
Obviously, technology is also a key driver of our governmental organizations. As it is for the international ones!
Without bragging, nor comparing, the North Atlantic Alliance, born in 1949, the longest-running political and military organization in the world, has been so far successfully fulfilling its mission thanks to its cohesion, its deterrence but also its technological edge against adversaries and competitors.
However, it is paramount to connect the way we perceive our strategic environment to the recent evolution of the technological landscape challenges in order to ensure the persistence of this technological superiority of the Alliance.
On the one hand, traditional technological competition continues to rage. NATO and EU provide appropriate frameworks and venues to analyze collectively the Pol-Mil context and the issues, but in these matters, it is up to our Nations to make the final decisions.
And they know what to do in order to decide sovereignly the appropriate answer for their own investments in novel specific military technologies, informed by the discussions held in multilateral forums like EU and NATO, on topics such as hypersonics or 5/6th generation jet-fighters, for example.
Indeed, for decades, NATO’s technological superiority was assured in a context where, not only, the technologies relevant for military applications were essentially driven by the Defence investments, but also where the dominance of the Alliance in this field was unparalleled and unquestioned.
In parallel, military budgets in most of the Western Nations have steadily declined in the post-Cold War era – a trend that took time to reverse while peer competitors have been investing in their capabilities.
Between brackets, it seems appropriate at this stage to differentiate well Russia, which has chosen a niche strategy exploiting our vulnerabilities and its strength, from China, which seeks to impose itself on all sides.
As a result, the ability of potential adversaries to challenge the Alliance and its member nations politically, militarily, and technologically is growing.
Even if I do not underestimate the strategic challenge and the associated requested investments in this traditional competition and the absolute need to stay deterrent enough, I do not think this is our main challenge with regard to Disruptive Technologies.
I think that the main challenge lies mainly with technological developments not driven by Defence sector.
The recent decades have seen an unprecedented growth and acceleration of technological development thanks in a large part to the commercial sector, especially in the digital domain (such as cyber or AI today, quantum technologies or cognitive warfare tomorrow).
These developments are being exploited by all kind of potential adversaries, from terrorists to our peer or near peer competitors who use them to drag the field of conflictuality, deterrence proving sufficiently effective. And it is easy to illustrate this idea with the hybrid warfare actions we are observing nowadays.
Then, new technologies made widely available have offered state and non-state actors a multitude of solutions to threaten and create potential disruption well above and beyond what was imaginable a few decades ago.
This damage and disruption, which can be generated with modest financial and material resources, can not only be inflicted on traditionally superior military forces on the battlefield, but also on the civilian population and critical infrastructures.
The associated proliferation and availability of knowledge and technologies have provided a number of non-state actors and non-NATO nations with growing opportunities, creating a ‘battle of the uses’ to turn these technologies into aggressive capabilities – a battle where speed is key and uses are key too.
That is the reason why the proximity between capability developers and final users are more essential than ever while until a couple of years ago regular capability development and procurement processes were widening this distance… partially, because of the “risk adverse” trend of our processes…
In between, if I dare to say so, it is “50 shades of grey” as the new Space field, evolving today between these two models of development gives us an interesting illustration.
There is no doubt that this new ecosystem must be fully understood in order to adapt to it and this is one of the main missions of my command, Allied Command Transformation.
In this new technological paradigm, it is imperative for the Alliance to embrace Innovation in order to reverse this dynamic and re-gain its strategic and military advantage by taking in the upper hand in the ability to leverage EDTs.The NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, my command proposed recently and which has been recently approved by NATO Ministers of Defence, contributes to this endeavor.
In order to leave no ambiguity, I would like to start by offering a definition of EDTs in a defence context.
For me EDTs are novel technologies whose potential practical uses are still partially uncertain, but whose the application to military capabilities have the potential to change the way military forces operate and could shift the balance of military power.
It is equally important to be clear about what I mean by Innovation.
If I define it as the implementation of new and different ideas, methods or solutions that achieves value for the Alliance, I would like to distinguish two different approaches, each adapted to one of the technological development model that I mentioned earlier:
- First, Directed Innovation: “pushing” the development of military technologies. We come back here to the traditional strategic competition with peer competitors I developed before. Hypersonics for instance.
- Second, Open Innovation: “pulling” innovative solutions from the civilian world to explore their adaptation for a military purpose. It is where acceleration of civil technical developments occurs and all actors are present, including peer competitors through hybrid warfare. Artificial Intelligence for instance.
Facing this situation, the Alliance decided the adoption of the NATO EDT roadmap.
Since then, we focus in particular on AI, Big Data, Autonomy, Space, Quantum Technologies, Biotechnologies, Human Enhancement, and Hypersonics.
The framework being laid out, I would like to move to the ‘How?’ As you probably noticed with my definition of Innovation, I consider that it makes sense only if it aims to put in the end a capability on the hands of war fighters. The overall Innovation cycle therefore goes from ideation to fielding at scale.
There are however very different mechanisms at stake in the upstream phase, where you explore potential solutions, and the downstream phase, where you deploy at scale successfully tested innovation. Let us have a separately look at these two phases.
The upstream phase is about recognizing issues or opportunities, looking for solutions, inventing or adapting them, user in the loop, and testing them as you go as much as possible.
These mechanisms are fundamentally different for directed innovation and open innovation, with lots more of ‘inventing’ for the former and lots more of ‘adapting’ for the later, and very different timeframes.
Nevertheless, they have in common the need for proper resourcing and adapted processes, allowing empowered teams to take bold initiatives.
That means in particular to assume fully the risk of failure.
That is something that is pretty counter-intuitive for the current procurement processes which became rigid for some reasons, but that is a fundamental enabler of innovation.
It is interesting to note for example that DARPA uses a failure indicator that, if too low, proves that they are not innovating hard enough!
In ACT, we have a long tradition of directed innovation through our Science & Technology Programme of Work, which is executed by the Centre for Maritime Research & Experimentation. We also work shoulder to shoulder with the Science and Technology Organization.
I know that STO members are attending the conference, good morning to you! And thank you for your commitment.
We complemented it with an open innovation endeavour when we established an Innovation Hub as early as 2012.
In 2020, we decided to take our Hub to the next step by giving it an ‘Innovation Lab’ capability to quickly prototype and test solutions, user in the loop – notably thanks to an in-house coding capacity implementing state-of-the-art software techniques inspired by Industry and Allied best practices.
Products are then updated continuously, sometimes even daily, to cope with the users feedback and evolving needs. This is what we should aim for. But, if we really want to embrace the new technological paradigm, we have no choice but transforming the way we operate.
The transformation that we need must aim at one idea first and foremost: to regain agility.
Look at what Elon Musk has accomplished. He has invested two theoretically impenetrable markets: Luxury automobiles with Tesla and Space transportation with SpaceX.
And, when I say ‘invested’, ‘disrupted’ would probably be more accurate… What is fascinating is to see HOW he achieved that. In a nutshell, by applying to complex cyber-physical system what he learnt from the software domain: agile development astutely combined with the techniques of ‘Industry 4.0’ and, to say it abruptly, guts. Guts to question status-quo. Guts to take risk by knowing that you learn more from your failures. Guts to accept to see rockets exploding at launch.
Moreover, by doing so, he became the work leader within Space Transportation in less than fifteen years.
He developed Falcon 9 for a tenth of what NASA’s costing model was saying it should have costed.
I can hear some of you think: “All that is very interesting but inapplicable in a governmental defence context”.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the US Air Force is currently proving you wrong.
They have started by revolutionizing software acquisitions by embracing the state-of-the art software practices I mentioned earlier about ACT’s Innovation Hub.
To be honest, to give credit where credit is due, we adopted these practices ourselves based on the lessons learned of the US Air Force, more specifically from their Kessel Run Experimental Lab, with which we have established a partnership.
To sum up the philosophy of the US DoD software acquisition reform largely driven by the US Air Force, I would like to refer to Dr. Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Quote: “So, you know how your app on your phone updates? Those developers are often getting real-time feedback – are you using your app? Are you happy with it? Is your use duration commensurate with what they designed it for? Then they use that feedback to update.
The war-fighting analogy for that is obvious. We’d really like to be able to have software go out into the battlefield, get feedback from the users.
What was day one of the war like? Change it, upgrade it and be different on day two. We have to adopt these commercial development tools that allow us to change software routinely, but change it safely.” End of quote.
Nevertheless, they do not stopped there. Now they are looking how to apply this approach to complex cyber-physical systems such as fighter jets with the ‘Digital Century Series’ acquisition strategy considered by for its Next-Generation Air Dominance programme, based on the combination of agile software development with digital engineering and open architecture.
That’s what I’m talking about when I talk of the need to embrace agility…
To sum it up: if we are serious about seizing the opportunities of EDTs, about keeping our technological edge, we need to make of innovation more than another buzzword, we need to fundamentally change the way we operate and think. We need resources but above all, we need a real cultural revolution.
To conclude my remarks, I would like to say a word about what we in NATO are doing together, with you in the EU.
The will of the Nations and the EU member states remains critical to enhance the “Transatlantic Bond” between NATO and the EU; to bring the NATO-EU cooperation further and beyond the current achievements in key areas like the development of capabilities, strengthening resilience, the defence against cyber-attacks, information warfare and the sharing of innovative ideas.
A broad cooperation has been established between our two organizations and is executed through the well-known 74 proposals of the joint declaration.
When it comes to Warfare Development, this cooperation is materialized in the following fields: Defence planning, Interoperability, concepts, exercises, strategic foresight to mention only few…
That being said, I am convinced and eager to further boost this fruitful NATO-EU cooperation and I think that the fields of Innovation and EDT offer a particularly wide range of opportunities in this area.
In ACT, we have developed an important network of NATO’s Centres of Excellence (like Stratcom or Cyber). The skills and expertise available in these structures constitute a remarkable bridge between our organizations. They are used as forerunners in NATO-EU Cooperation, to tackle current and future challenges;
We have also developed a vast Innovation Network (more than 3000 members) that should allow us to share our best practices;
We are working hand in hand with the EDA to organize common Innovation Challenges that will benefit to both organizations;
One of the challenge we face in this new era is also to get a common understanding of the technologies we face, their potential use, their legal and ethical dimension. I am convinced that we should be able to develop this common understanding together by addressing initially, for example, common taxonomy since it is paramount to lay the groundwork for more advanced AI cooperation by example.
Finally, I am deeply convinced that we should apprehend together implications of such new domains such as cognitive warfare; I submit these lines of thought to your future discussions, and I am sure that they will lead to concrete proposals.
Allow me to conclude on a quote not by an European, but an American, John McCain which illustrates where we are nowadays:
“A strong E.U., a strong NATO, and a true strategic partnership between them is profoundly in our interest”
Thank you again to the EDA for organizing this timely event. I wish you a very fruitful conference.
Thank you very much for you attention.
Norfolk (VTC), 31 March 2021
- Rear Admiral (Retired) Larry Baucom, Dear Larry,
- My esteemed predecessors,
- Admiral (Retired) Edmund Giambastiani, Dear Edmund,
- General (Retired) James Mattis, Dear James, and
- General (Retired) Denis Mercier, cher Denis,
- Dr. Regina Karp, Director of ODU’s International Studies Program, our moderator today,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
Larry, thank you and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads for organizing this unique event. It is really an honour to be with you today.
I also thank the Norfolk-NATO Festival Committee for finding a way to continue our successful cooperation despite the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I deeply regret that we are not able to meet in person and acknowledge that no technology can entirely replace direct interactions and their many advantages.
This event highlights our shared determination by bringing together my Command, Allied Command Transformation, representing 30 nations, our Hampton Roads hosts and especially 3 former Supreme Allied Commanders Transformation – embodying NATO’s cohesion, consistency and persistent determination in the face of all challenges.
As Amit Kalantri, a young Indian writer, put it: “Our ancestors have invented, we can at least innovate.” And that, in many ways, might usefully sum up our ACT philosophy.
My predecessors – I want you to note that I resisted the temptation of referring to them as our ancestors – each in his own way, set the foundations for something that was then implemented during their tenure or by their successors. Something that improved the way the Alliance develops and maintains its Military Instrument of Power.
And, something that ensured peace and stability for all of us, for all of you … which is our collective Military Instrument of Power!
NATO is rightly celebrated as history’s most successful military alliance. Today it protects almost one billion people. And once again, this success is born of its cohesion … and its ability to adapt.
And this is particularly the case with NATO’s Military Instrument of Power, the Alliance’s strong and stable foundation.
Like any family, there have been occasional political differences and even a few dissonant tones between our leaders, but the Alliance’s strength is in no small part due to its ability to bring all of them around the same table and discuss these issues … and move forward as one!
We are all old enough to remember times when our opponents have questioned NATO’s continued existence, but as Mark Twain might have said, those reports were greatly exaggerated!
We are here today with an Alliance that is very much alive, present, and credible. And the protection and stability it provides are due to the efforts of its military organization and leaders.
Allow me to say a few words about the great contributions made by my predecessors, who together made our Military Instrument of Power what it is today.
Admiral Edmund Giambastiani was the first Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He, in reality brought transformation to NATO, as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) transitioned to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT).
Admiral Giambastiani was the catalyst behind NATO’s reorientation towards the future by providing a vision of how NATO could think about tomorrow.
General James Mattis ensured that NATO could think differently, at the political and military level, about the global security environment. His qualities of the visionary military leader may be well illustrated by the fact that he described beforehand what a hybrid conflict could be.
He was also instrumental in developing the Multiple Futures Project and the provision of military inputs into the NATO Strategic Concept 2010, which remains in use today.
You might say, General Mattis brought strategy back to NATO.
General Denis Mercier continued to move us forward by ensuring the strategic level remained connected to our warfighters. His leadership, by focusing on the warfighting focus areas, ensured the significant improvement of the practical application, including introduction of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies to our transformational agenda.
General Mercier also led the efforts of proposing the framework and started implementation of the plans for restructuring ACT, as part of the broader NATO Command Structure Adaptation … to better deal with the initiatives put forth in Wales’ and Warsaw’s Summits.
As you can see, much has been accomplished since ACT was stood up in 2003. It took a great deal of vision, leadership and effort to come as far as we have today, towards directing our collective capability development.
And, continuing on the path set by its previous military leaders, ACT is currently focused on implementing new operational domains, like space; on the use of and defence against Emerging and Disruptive Technologies; on innovation; on interoperability and on paving the way for NATO’s future transformational efforts.
When we talk about our way ahead, I would like to mention the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC), which we developed in ACT to operationalize NATO’s military strategy.
The Concept was recently approved by the CHODs and endorsed by NATO’s defence ministers, at the political level.
We now turn to its implementation for the upcoming years. It is because NWCC complements existing strategic documents by looking at global trends and factors affecting Alliance security over the next 20 years and prioritizing efforts in concept and capability development needed for Alliance forces to maintain a decisive comparative advantage.
Returning to today’s topic: “stronger, together”, it is clear today that emerging challenges require even more cooperation and cohesion.
Today, no country, however powerful, is able to face alone the challenges confronting us …
Or as the NATO Secretary General said, when he addressed the American Congress 18 months ago, as we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Alliance – “It’s good to have friends”.
And as you all know, the challenges we face today are legion: an aggressive and capable Russia, active international terrorist groups, and significant instability in Europe’ vicinity … all of which is complicated by Emerging Disruptive Technologies, the explosion of the cognitive sphere, China, post-Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty … and even global challenges like climate change and pandemics like the one that made today’s event a virtual one.
It is in this ever changing and complex environment that ACT continues to toil in order to develop and maintain NATO’s Military Instrument of Power, while ensuring it remains credible, robust and resilient. This is the practical application of the principle of “strategic patience”, a persevered and determined improvement of our MIoP, which we collectively improve.
I already mentioned the increased relevance of innovation in NATO, due in no small part to the pace of technological change.
The increased importance of technological development within the commercial sector, especially in the digital sphere, the falling costs of advanced technologies and the military modernization programmes our potential adversaries and competitors (irrespective of their relative size) have embarked on – require we adapt in this domain as well.
This is the arena where we also need to have close partnerships with industry, academia and the scientific community.
The effectiveness of our Military Instrument of Power depends therefore, in part, on our ability to keep up with dynamic changes in sectors that are not part of the “traditional defence development eco-system”.
Hence, agility. It is a quality that is required alongside pure combat power. It is about adapting our capability development, changing our mindset and our procedures, our organization, our acquisition processes … while keeping in mind our ultimate goal: supporting our soldiers, sailors and airmen in the field.
As you can see, dealing with complexity requires a transformational agenda that is not exclusively focused on the “outside world”, our environment, but also inwards: on us, on the way we adapt to this evolution.
That is why another important aspect is proactivity, which is needed to avoid surprises, to anticipate them, and, above all, to retain the initiative. I am profoundly convinced that we need to understand what success looks like for NATO if we are to shape, contest and fight in this evolving security environment.
And, this is why I directed that NWCC, the Concept I mentioned before, be designed based on that logic and mindset. To encourage a proactive and anticipatory approach.
To conclude, I’d like to highlight again, that while there may be occasional political turbulence at the political level, the military remains NATO’s strong and stable foundation.
The coherence and the cohesion of this common military culture and forces, having been built up patiently over more than 70 years, constitutes, in my eyes, a phenomenal success, the effects of which go well beyond the military effects achieved in operations.
It has proven its effectiveness in the field on numerous occasions. It brings confidence to our forces and instils fear in our adversaries. It is a deterrent and a factor for stability.
That is why, I am sure, our collective capabilities, our military culture represents the sum of the strong and credible unity of efforts and sacrifices made by 30 nations … and their partners.
As the world changes, as the environment changes, so do we.
And today, we are fortunate to be able to discuss these changes with some of the finest military leaders this Alliance has ever had, the former SACTs.
Please make the most of this unique opportunity. I wish you a fruitful discussion and many great insights.
Thank you for your attention.
Speeches marked with (*) are classified and available on the NATO SECRET network. To request those speeches, please contact:
Lieutenant Colonel Christophe Dubois, French Air and Space Force
SACT Communications Advisor