“Smart Defence”, or how to ensure security despite defence budget constraints. This is one of the topics to be discussed at the NATO Summit scheduled for May 20 and 21in Chicago. To investigate this crucial matter that has been on the Atlantic Alliance’s agenda for a long time, the Istituto Affari Internazionali organized an international conference at the Italian Senate on April 26, with the support of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the participation of the Italian Minister of Defence, Giampaolo Di Paola.
Introducing the conference, President of the IAI Stefano Silvestri underlined that a weak economy means less resources for security. Almost all NATO Member States are curently forced to reform their defence budgets in light of the economic crisis. This is why “Smart Defence” is being discussed as a solution to reducing the gap between available military capabilities and the goals assigned armed forces. The concept is based on three pillars: preventive consultations among allied countries on priority assets to maintain; pooling and sharing of national assets to create common capabilities; specialization of national armed forces with the aim of guaranteeing the necessary tools at the collective level for facing future crises and threats.
According to Minister Di Paola, “Smart Defence” must be intended as part of a strategy for enhancing and safeguarding global security. The Heads of State and Government of NATO Member Countries are in charge of this strategy and it cannot go back to the mere defence of European territory. The Alliance has to contribute to international security by strengthening existing partnerships and establishing stronger relations with the new emerging players in the international arena, above all the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
To face the challenge of “doing more with less”, Alberto De Benedectis, CEO of Finmeccanica UK, and Michael Clarke, General Director of Rusi (Royal United Service Institute), stressed how the convergence of national and global interests must proceed with closer and more prompt dialogue between governments and industries so thar a more effective system can be set up, based on defence industry “transnationality”.
The problem of the gap between objectives and the Allies’ capacities will be at the heart of the NATO agenda well beyond the Chicago Summit, which could however result in a step forward in transatlantic efforts to face it.