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Center for Strategic Decision Research


An Industry Perspective on DCI and ESDI

Mr. William Lawler
Vice President, Boeing Military Aircraft and Missiles

It is a real privilege for the Boeing Company—and for me personally— to participate in this very timely and important forum. We welcome the opportunity to discuss NATO military/industrial affairs, and to share our thoughts on where, as an industry, we should be going. Such a discussion is important because we industrialists are not just competitors. We are often partners and sometimes buyers or sellers. But whatever role we play in any given business venture, we continue to have one vital interest in common, and that is the environment in which we do our business.

This environment, that has been so stable for so long, is changing profoundly, and at a rate we would have considered inconceivable even two years ago. We received a reminder very recently of just how dynamic our environment can be with the announcement of the U.S. Defense Trade Security Initiative. Some believed that in the year 2000 it would be America’s turn to move transatlantic cooperation forward, particularly regarding its export control policies. And now it appears that the United States has taken an important step, in the form of the 17 proposals within the Defense Trade Security Initiative. We applaud this action and look forward to working with our customers in implementing the details of those 17 proposals.


Regarding the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI), I believe they are sound, insightful steps to ensure that NATO and the European Union maintain their relevance and leadership by assuring the security of their members. DCI is positive proof that NATO has studied the data regarding the dynamic and complex factors it is facing in today’s post-Cold War period. These factors include the changing nature of the threat to NATO members, new and varied missions that NATO must be prepared to fulfill, lessons learned from Kosovo, and the complex relationship between NATO and the European Union. And ESDI is the framework within which we must seek solutions to future needs. The European vision, with its particular integrated security requirements, is rapidly becoming reality, and we should all be encouraged by the dialogue on how these requirements are being meshed with those of NATO.

So this is our challenge: satisfying these objectives in an environment of consolidation. I believe we may well have reached a historic fork in the road, and I sincerely hope that we have begun taking the first steps down the best road for us all. One path leads through greatly enhanced transatlantic cooperation in requirements development and systems acquisition on its way to improving interoperability and value. The other path leads through protectionism to a fortress mentality in which efficiency and effectiveness are subordinated to national and regional considerations.

The Defense Capabilities Initiative, now bolstered by the streamlined procedures and efficiencies of the proposed Defense Trade Security Initiative, points the way forward. It identifies the direction in which the Alliance needs to move regarding capacity and capability without placing constraints on the particular systems to be acquired, be they airlifts, precision-guided munitions, command-and-control capabilities, or other systems.

ESDI sets forth a process to help industry work through the complex relationships between Alliance members on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as with other members of the European community who are not members of the Alliance. Lord Robertson has been diligent in speaking out about these initiatives in recent months. To borrow his words, “For Europe and for NATO to be credible, security goals must be met with real capability.” And, to take it a step further, solid agreements on capability can lead to the establishment of real military requirements.


We in industry have the opportunity and, I submit, the obligation to propose solutions to DCI requirements that make operational, political, and industrial sense in light of ESDI, and that still meet the yardsticks of interoperability and value that we have talked about in previous sessions. We should do so by working side by side to propose optimal solutions in whatever contractual relationships best meet a particular need or requirement, and in such a way that we combine our strengths for the good of the Alliance. In the near term, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is an outstanding example of a multinational approach that is required in our industry. Eight NATO nations are involved with JSF, and that’s just the beginning. For example, I can imagine such jointly designed and produced systems as heavy-lift helicopters, airlifters, and next-generation, precision-guided weapons to meet the future needs of the Alliance. An entirely new field that we could also develop together is unmanned combat aircraft, and there are many others. The Alliance and its governments will need to play a role in structuring these activities to ensure a competitive environment and a level playing field.

Defense companies around the world will provide the best capabilities and the best value when they are allowed to use the goals of customer satisfaction and stakeholder value, and have only minimal essential government regulation and limitations, to make their decisions. In fact, individual governments, NATO, and industry share the responsibility of working together to make sure we get the most value for our increasingly scarce resources. It remains a challenging task, but industry rationalization, these new initiatives, and the Defense Trade Security Initiative have surely rendered possible what may have been simply too difficult before.

In the words of U.S. Under Secretary of Defense David Oliver, this is not about trade, it is about increased security for Allies on both sides of the Atlantic. It is not about losing export controls, but about enhancing national security by improving interoperability.

We applaud NATO’s initiative in setting a course for the new century. As we move forward, we would all do well to keep Lord Robertson’s three I’s in mind: inclusiveness of all NATO Allies, indivisibility of the transatlantic link, and improvement of capabilities.

If we do our jobs right, the security benefits for NATO—and the economic opportunities for its member-countries—will continue to grow. And, most importantly, we will be doing our best for the men and women who rely on our products and services with their lives on the line. That remains our highest responsibility, and our greatest privilege.


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