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Common Standards: NATO’s Next Priority

The alliance’s evolution demands new thinking, emphasizing interoperability and adaptable, cost-effective defense technologies.


In the next battle, the alliance will demand a new mindset among NATO allies as challenges evolve.

“For the first time ever since the Cold War, we have real operational tasks,” said Maj. Gen. Jörg See, deputy assistant secretary general for defense policy and planning, NATO.

The alliance’s past confrontations were against rivals with limited conventional capabilities in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, according to Gen. See. Future challenges will encounter peer adversaries and this, in turn, demands that readiness is adjusted and updated.

One example comes from the Ukrainian battlefield, where unmanned aerial devices are numerous and perform a variety of missions, including attack and intelligence.

“We are wrestling with a choice to invest in high-cost, low-density cruise systems versus, for example, a larger number of low-tech, less survivable but more easily replaceable systems,” Gen. See told the audience at TechNet International in Brussels on Thursday.












Still, creating the best system for the military is akin to mass consumer technology adoption like a Google or Apple product for a European-wide defense planner.

When speaking about the most successful system development within the Austrian defense forces, an internally produced system was the only case a career officer saw of a successful implementation.

“An IT department was embedded in the organization of the defense system, which means that the engineers were on a daily basis present with the user community. They observed on a daily basis, their initiatives, their problems, their tasks; all the requirements were produced jointly,” said Col. Christian Wagner, head of division, Policy and Requirements at the European External Action Service, a European Union diplomatic and defense body.








Maj. Gen. JÖRG SEE, deputy assistant secretary general for defence policy and planning, NATO Headquarters
For the first time ever since the Cold War, we have real operational tasks.
Maj. Gen. Jörg See
deputy assistant secretary general for defense policy and planning, NATO


Wagner used the case to explain the key to increasing capabilities: keeping developers and final users as close as possible.

Europeans fight within a large coalition and there are many moving parts.

As systems evolve and technology gains relevance, standards become a crucial factor for sharing intelligence and resources.

“Interoperability was a fairly high-level setting; now, this has totally changed,” Gen. See said.

He explained that new demands for technologies at tactical levels require members to supply their warfighters with compatibilities not necessary against previous enemies.

TechNet International is a yearly event organized by AFCEA International, SIGNAL Media’s parent association.