Armed Force and technological innovation. A conference within the framework of the Forza NEC research project.
On July 4th 2015, the IAI Research Paper “Technological Innovation and Defence: Forza NEC in the Euro-Atlantic framework” was presented. Forza NEC is the program the Italian Army has undertaken to develop its own net-centric capabilities. The term NEC (Network Enabled Capabilities) refers to the network providing digital interaction among different parts of the Armed Forces, allowing for strategic superiority. The Research Paper analyzed the relationship between Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Armed Forces in different countries: Italy, United States, Great Britain, France and Germany.
The IAI’s Vice President, General Vincenzo Camporini, moderated the conference which was opened with a presentation by Alessandro Marrone, Senior Fellow in the IAI Security and Defence Program, illustrating the main points of the Research Paper. The conference was attended by President of the Italian Federation of Industries for Aerospace, Security and Defence Hon. Guido Crosetto, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Danilo Errico, Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti, and Secretary General of the Defence and National Armaments Directorate Gen. Enzo Stefanini. An intervention by the President of the Senate Defence Commission, Sen. Nicola Latorre concluded the panel discussion.
The conference aimed to foster debate on the role of the Italian Armed Forces in a continuously changing international security setting. Debate was centred mainly upon Italian issues – Italian defence policy and the budget, Italian aerospace and defence industries, domestic public opinion – but also touched on the external dimension, that is European and Atlantic aspects.
Various speakers described the complexity of the Forza NEC Program and pointed out the numerous difficulties that it has come up against, especially in the early stages. However, they also noted how the Concept Development and Experimentation phase reached almost 65% of the preset targets – all in all a good result.
Development through Forza NEC of closer dialogue between Italian industry and the military environment was debated. In fact, this partnership is one of the key points of the recent White Paper on international security and defence put out by the Ministry of Defence, which recommends the drafting of an Industrial and Technological Strategy to make planning of public investments in procurement clearer and more concrete. The fact that the military and industry share common aims is a good basis for the program’s success, but secure investment planning is fundamental.
As regards the external dimension, the analysis of the Forza NEC program highlighted how the interoperability of the technologies used by the armed forces of Allied countries is essential. The United States manages equipment and technologies in a unitary way. This is not the case at the European and NATO levels. Forza NEC provides an opportunity for greater integration in this field, with possibilities for EU/NATO member states to share aims and requirements in order to develop common technologies. This important idea comes up against the individual interests of the various nations. However, without the kind of common effort mentioned, it will be difficult to maintain technological supremacy of European armed forces with respect to non-NATO countries.