While the world’s attention largely has been focused on areas of conflict, one NATO nation has quietly developed an indigenous defense industry that is poised to be a significant player in international military procurement. By focusing on developing technologies and capabilities within reach, Turkey has developed a domestic defense technology base that spans all military activities on land, at sea and in the air.
Buttressed by modern warfighting realities and battered by fiscal realities, the United Kingdom is laying the groundwork for a major overhaul of its military force structure. Significant studies currently underway aim at building a new defense architecture that both provides for any anticipated contingency and enables flexibility to act in new ways against unforeseen threats.
Technology and relationships go hand-in-hand in the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility, and the head of communications at this military organization has plans for both during his tenure. Long-standing partnerships in the region need continued nurturing, and newer partnerships, such as those with former Soviet bloc nations, require encouragement. These international entities must find ways to interoperate despite having different resources to apply in an environment of blindingly fast technological advancement.
The agency responsible for managing NATO’s computer and communications networks is redrawing its financial goals to deal with the global financial crisis. Not only is the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency reducing expenses, but it also is finding new sources of revenue, such as by providing research and development and procurement services to alliance nations.
Political as well as military transformations are driving major changes at NATO. The alliance is reshaping itself to serve more as a geopolitical security organization than as a purely military one designed for armed deterrence and operations.
Cybermarauders are taking aim at NATO systems both within the alliance and through member nations as experts strive to stay a step ahead of adversaries. The alliance must deal with different security standards along with diverse levels of information system sophistication among member nations.
The Royal Navy is creating an island on an isle in an effort to de-risk advanced communications systems early, easily and with less expense than traditional means. As Britain continues its development of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, those working with the technology systems have created a mock-up of the ships’ aft island, on which will go an array of equipment. The complexity is necessary for the support of all the personnel who will draw from its resources, and officials with the project are determined to ensure top-notch functionality before the carriers set sail.
A NATO program supporting alliance forces in Southwest Asia takes requests for new capabilities from commanders in the field and rapidly turns them into new equipment and services. The increased pace of operations in the region has provided an additional challenge to a very busy organization, particularly as NATO forces operating in Afghanistan require communications and infrastructure support for operations in that nation’s rugged and undeveloped terrain.
The United Kingdom’s defense industry is in a state of flux that may lead to a potential round of consolidations in the coming years as small and medium-size firms are acquired by larger national and international companies. This fluid state is being caused by two factors: the global economic crisis and upcoming general elections that could put the Conservative party in power for the first time since the late 1990s—a move that would trigger a major strategic assessment of the nation’s defense priorities.