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Center for Strategic Decision Research, Peter Struck, Michele Alliot-Marie, General George Joulwan, SACEUR, General James L. Jones, SHAPE, NATO, EU, BDLI, ILA, EADS, Northrop Grumman, Under Secretary Michael Wynne, Assistant Secretary Linton Wells, Ambassador William Burns, NATO Military Committee Chairman General Harald Kujat, General Dynamics, Boeing, Global Security Terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rainer Hertrich, David Stafford

Center for Strategic Decision Research


Using the Tail Wind to Reform European Security Policy

Mr. Rainer Hertrich
Co-CEO, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS)


You may be wondering why the opening speech before a panel of Defense Ministers is being made by a representative from industry. Most likely the organizers of this NATO Workshop assumed that the CEO of a trinational aerospace and defense company must be someone who thinks and acts politically. But I have to disappoint you! One cannot be everything in one’s lifetime, and certainly not everything at one and the same time. I am a full-blooded entrepreneur, if I may put it that way.

However, the challenges involved in the creation of cross-border European structures in the defense industry certainly have a lot in common with the development of a European Security and Defense Identity, the ESDI. Some of the common features are the numerous political, cultural, and legal hurdles they both have to overcome. In the case of ESDI, the issues involve how significant portions of national sovereignty can be transferred to a supranational, European level. On the way to founding EADS, the number one aerospace company in Europe, we need to determine how core competencies can be focused at a European level without endangering national identities, which are all-important to our governmental customers. In view of the complexities involved, friction and delays can barely be avoided.

Another common feature is a marked reticence, to put it mildly, on the part of the U.S. On the one hand, in the field of security policy, the U.S. has long wished to have the burden shared with its European partners. On the other hand, the U.S. is afraid of losing the global dominance in foreign, security, and economic affairs that it has enjoyed for decades.

Yet another common feature of both ESDI and EADS is the overriding aim: of taking on an important and independent role as a European partner without, and let me stress this, putting the reliable transatlantic link at the slightest risk. In the areas of defense technology and security policy, forming close ties across the Atlantic is as indispensable for the “New Europe” as it ever was. NATO has gone from being an important defense alliance to being the mediator of Europe’s security policy and the core of international crisis management.


In view of the fact that they have common interests and tasks, politics and industry should work together to turn their common goals into reality.

Closing the Technology Gap

The first thing that needs to be done is to close the ever-widening technology gap between European and American forces before a similar gap opens up between the respective defense industries. Up to now, the so-called Revolution of Military Affairs was mainly an American revolution. The U.S. has an enormous lead over Europeans in the utilization of advances made in information technology in the area of operational uses of weapon systems. The rapid and consistent adaptation of the American forces to the new technologies has already led to serious problems of force compatibility within the Alliance—as was recently apparent in Kosovo.

It would be catastrophic if in the long term we allow disparities in technology, manpower, and modernization strategies, and thus a two-tier alliance, to arise. The political initiatives put forth in Europe must now be transformed into concrete measures.

The Second Stage of NATO Enlargement

The further development of the Alliance also calls for the utmost attention, both from politics and from the defense industry. Pressure is growing in Eastern and Southeastern Europe for NATO to start a second round of enlargement. As new members begin their step-by-step integration to Western military, security policy, and—this should not be forgotten—economic structures, they will rely strongly on Western support. Here, Germany has a central role to play, particularly in the military field.

Expanded Tasks for the Armed Forces

In recent years, the considerably expanded tasks of our armed forces have led to implications for both politics and industry. Our forces must now not only defend the home country and the Alliance but take on international crisis missions as well. And, quite apart from the new forms of threat that we have to be prepared to meet, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the associated carrier technology, is continuing unabated. In addition, the electronic assault on civil and military control and information systems is no longer science fiction, but a dangerous reality; the “I love you” virus should be warning enough!

New Equipment Needs

The new, expanded task spectrum of our forces is unavoidably leading to new requirements for equipment. These include a clearly defined and graded reconnaissance potential accompanied by state-of-the-art synchronized command and communication capabilities that will enable independent assessment of the political situation and the appropriate decision-making to take place. The armed forces of the future must have sufficient mobility, standoff capability, and weapons precision at their disposal—from the qualitative, quantitative, strategic, and tactical points of view.

Sensor technology, optronics, electronic warfare, radar, reconnaissance technologies, precision and standoff weapons, and target-seeking weapons systems: The key military technologies of the future, which will form the basis of a modern army, can no longer be coped with at the national level. Our limited financial and technological resources must be employed to their best effect. And that is why cooperation in the field of armaments must be an integral part of a European Security and Defense Identity.

It is therefore of elemental political and economic interest to the European partners to define the future requirements of the armed forces jointly, or at least in close cooperation, and to cover those requirements by having a powerful and competitive European defense technology base. A program such as A400M, NH90, Trigat, or Meteor is therefore indispensable to the European armed forces.

Here again there is a parallel between politics and industry: What national governments cannot finance by going it alone cannot be supplied by national companies alone either. On the industrial side, by founding the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, we are currently creating the base for stronger cross-border European cooperation in the field of defense technology. However, at the same time EADS will also give us the weight we need for transatlantic cooperation. I am convinced that in the long term we will have not only American-European competition but also competing transatlantic consortia. The air-to-air missile system Meteor is a first laboratory test in this direction.

The clear interest of the United States in more closely cooperating with its European allies has opened a unique window of opportunity to further intensify the links between our industries and to avoid the evolution of a technology gap. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to rapidly create an indispensable framework for fair and balanced cooperation on an equal footing—which is, from my decidedly entrepreneurial point of view, unhindered technology access for both parties, open defense markets on both sides of the Atlantic, and common export control principles.


Germany is holding intensive discussions about the future tasks and structures of our armed forces. For me, one factor in this is of great importance: Our soldiers are receiving more recognition from the population than ever before. The excellent work they are doing and the enormous personal commitment they are making to securing and re-establishing peace, national justice, and human rights in Bosnia, Kosovo, and numerous other centers of conflict have earned them great respect and public support.

Let us therefore make good use of the tail wind that is helping politics and industry to close ranks and push reforms ahead with all of its strength:

  • Reforms to restructure our national armed forces;
  • Reforms in the procurement process, which more than ever needs to be governed by comprehensive technological compatibility within the Alliance and which must guarantee that the troops receive the equipment they require to carry out their difficult tasks;
  • Reforms in the Alliance itself that will guarantee security and stability under the new geopolitical conditions.

In my view, the answer to the question of a European Security and Defense Identity within the Alliance can be found only when the question of European capacity has been answered. And finding that answer is a task we must continue to work on. As far as the European aerospace industry is concerned, I can assure you that you and your armed forces will find us a reliable and competent partner.


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