Establishing a greater partnership with the private sector is one of NATO’s primary goals as it adjusts to changing political, financial and military trends. A strong partnership with industry is viewed by alliance members as the key to opening the door to innovative solutions in a time of fiscal limitations. However, tapping that wellspring of imagination poses some difficulties for the multinational organization.
NATO places its partnership with industry on a high plane, and it aims to improve that partnership in a time of severe financial constraints and transforming combat needs. Foremost among the benefits that the Atlantic alliance seeks is best industry practices, especially for delivering the latest technologies.
Achieving its goals, particularly in the arena of communications and electronics systems, will require a more agile process. However, NATO is handicapped in this effort by its nature as a multinational organization that must take its members’ needs into account.
“We are spending the money of 38 nations that basically are all under financial pressure, so they will scrutinize all the work that we do with industry,” relates Maj. Gen. Koen Gijsbers, RNLA (Ret.), the general manager of the newly formed NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency. “In that environment, we need to find a relationship to make this [partnership] most effective and efficient.”
This is one opportunity that is being driven by necessity. Because of the global financial crisis—which has hit Europe and the United States particularly hard—all military and government planners must do more with less. So, tapping the font of innovation that emerges from commercial technologies and capabilities offers a way for NATO to achieve its modernization goals without exceeding its shrinking budget.