Center for Strategic Decision Research


Building a Strategic Vision in a Changing Strategic Environment

Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola
Italian Secretary General of Defense

Strategic planning requires a strategic vision, which defense planning needs to underpin. As we think about that vision, we must take into account that we live in a changing strategic environment. And as the environment changes, we continue to face new risks, as well as new opportunities. All of these global challenges affect our security in the broadest sense.


One of the new realities is the presence of the new Russia, a Russia that is now shaping its future. In addition, there are new security players on the scene, both in the Euro-Atlantic theatre and in the Pacific as well. The Mediterranean scenario is also changing, sometimes for the worse. Another fundamental part of the changing strategic environment is the European integration process. These are some of the realities to which we must adapt our strategic planning.

NATO is changing to do so, and we must not resist this change; to resist it would result in the disintegration of NATO. I cherish NATO very much, and I cherish the European Union, and we must help both organizations to change and to grow in the right direction. In Washington we set the vision for NATO to not only handle the new mission but to incorporate the new strategic environment. Our job is now to support the integration of the European Union as a fundamental factor of the new Europe and to keep from breaking apart the Alliance. I believe the future of the Alliance rests on a more balanced partnership, and that the Alliance cannot continue as it has in the past. The requirements of the future are not the requirements of the past.


To make real this vision of a balanced partnership and a strong Alliance, the Euro-Atlantic community must prepare defense plans that incorporate the new realities. That means that we cannot think of EDI, the European Defense Initiative, as a competitor to DCI, the Defense Capabilities Initiative, but as another face of the same coin. The European Defense Initiative is a tool that can help Europeans become better Allies-not better Europeans against Allies. It is therefore important to continue to pursue both driving factors of our strategic planning: Defense Capabilities Initiative and the European Defense Initiative.


The new technology that is coming in must be at the service of our defense planning. Therefore, we need to invest more in technology and in technology cooperation. Such cooperation-across the Atlantic and within Europe-is, to me, a key to our vision. And fair technology cooperation across the Atlantic may also result in a better partnership and a better Alliance. Europeans want to invest more in technology, and are prepared to do so. While finding the needed resources will be difficult, we will soon see new investments coming in.


We are already undertaking the consolidation of the European defense industry. Such consolidation is not to build a Fortress Europe, but to be in a better position to cooperate with and partner with the United States. Cooperation cannot take place between two very unequal partners, so Europe must reach a more equal level with the U.S. I am not blaming the U.S. for the situation; I am saying it is for Europe to become a better partner for the U.S. But the U.S. must understand the situation and do what it can to facilitate the process.

In Europe, we are working to improve our position. We are consolidating at the industry level. We are building transnational instruments to facilitate technological research. We have also started to discuss the criteria for defense expenditures. Certainly we must spend more, but we also must spend better, which means pulling our financial resources together. Consolidating the European defense industry is one way to pool our economic resources, be more effective in our spending, and better our operational output.


The message that I want to get across is that we need to follow our vision. We also need defense planning that is flexible and can adapt to the changing environment. We should not limit our options, but be responsive to change and keep our options open. We also must invest more and utilize more technology for research to smoothly mesh supply and demand





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