Center for Strategic Decision Research


Looking Forward After the Iraq War

Mr. David Stafford
Sector Vice President, Business, Strategy Development, and International,
Northrop Grumman Corporation Integrated Systems

I am honored to be here in Berlin, a city that for sixty years has symbolized the triumph of freedom and democracy over totalitarianism. Restored today to its rightful place as Germany’s seat of government, this beautiful city on the Spree thrives again as a strategic, economic and cultural center in the heart of Europe. 

My remarks focus on transformation and transatlantic industrial cooperation as the Atlantic Alliance and the EU extend their engagement from the Balkans and the Mediterranean across the Caucasus and into Central Asia, confronting new asymmetric threats and challenges to our stability and security. I will focus specifically on how transatlantic defense industry cooperation can contribute to that effort.  

In that regard, the fact that we gather less than a month after the accession of 7 new NATO members and within a week of the EU’s welcoming its 10 new members is certainly most auspicious. Watching newscasts on April 30th, I was particularly struck by the shots of the thousand blue balloons released in front of the brightly-lit Brandenburg Gate, and was reminded of the many changes and vast transformation that have occurred since President Reagan issued his challenge in August 1986 to “tear down that Wall.” 

Who would then have imagined a Europe whole and free such as has come to fruition in the past 6 weeks? That NATO’s 16 nations would now stand at 26? That the EU would swell to 25, and that both organizations would have 19 members in common? Who could foresee that NATO and the EU would have advanced as far in security and defense cooperation as the Berlin Plus agreement stipulates? Or that that vitally important NATO-Russia Council would result in such unprecedented cooperation with 57 combined exercises planned for this year alone? As General Klaus Naumann remarked, history is healing the wounds inflicted by totalitarianism in the twentieth century.  

Even more strikingly, who would have predicted then that NATO would have become engaged in the Balkans or taken over the ISAF mission in Afghanistan?  

It appears to me as I listen to our distinguished speakers at this workshop over these past two days that the Afghan mission is no mere anomaly, but rather the harbinger of Alliance engagement to come. Were NATO to be called upon by the UN or the OSCE as it has in the recent past, would the Alliance refuse a mandate for the Near East? I suspect not. For I submit that no other supra-national organization possesses the organization, the infrastructure and the decision-making capability to take on such daunting missions. In Afghanistan, NATO has demonstrated that it is the world’s pre-eminent organization for generating, leading and supporting large, multinational and long-term peace support operations. 


Two strategic realities confront us: First, while the European continent is unified as never before and the member nations of the Alliance are prosperous and secure, our stability remains dangerously at risk. Indeed, terrorism—as witnessed again recently in Madrid and Riyadh—as well as failed states and the looming threat of weapons of mass destruction all represent challenges that are, in many ways, more complex than those of the past. Meeting these challenges requires new ways of cooperation, new strategies, and new capabilities. As Foreign Minister Fischer so succinctly put it at this year’s Munich Conference on Security and Stability, “we face a common threat.” 

Second, confronting these challenges will require international engagement, employing all the instruments of multilateral power—Diplomatic, Intelligence, Military and Economic (DIME). These engagements are more likely to occur well beyond NATO’s traditional area of operations, with a stronger focus on the Caucasus and Central Asia than our partnership programs, while effective, have yielded to date. 

The Alliance is clearly determined to modernize its structures and capabilities for this long and difficult struggle. Its efforts are reflected in the establishment of Allied Command Transformation, in the NATO Response Force that General Jones spoke of earliera, and in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) battalions that are being established to deal with the aftermath of a WMD strike. We expect even more to emerge from next month’s Istanbul Summit. As the Secretary General told the Slovenian Parliament two weeks ago, the Istanbul communiqué will certainly contain an Alliance commitment to send its forces wherever they are needed, and to defend against threats from wherever they arise. 

With that said, we are each acutely aware of the yawning gap between intentions and capabilities. The forces of Allied Command Operations are already stretched to their limits supporting deployments in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Defense budgets, as allocated, will be unable to resource the additional force levels and capabilities required. As NATO, the EU and their member states confront this ends-means mismatch, the transatlantic defense industry must rise to the task and bring to bear its skills and key technological competencies that can provide our militaries with systems that enable knowledge. 

After the last World War, the United States shifted its industrial production away from defense. As the Cold War emerged, the Soviet Union stepped up its production of military machinery, which resulted in a three-to-one quantitative advantage in their favor. The West leveled the playing field not by rejuvenating pre-WWII production quotas, but by employing what became known as the “offset strategy,” a tactical framework whereby our military efforts capitalized on high value/high payoff technologies. The Stealth Project and today’s precision guided munitions were the result of such planning. Desert Storm was the first opportunity we had to test and deploy the technologies developed during the Cold War. However, these developments represent a response to threats brought about by nation states, not those brought about by the mobile enemies that we face today. Our military capabilities were not designed to battle unconventional tactics such as attacks on civilian or infrastructure targets at home or abroad that are masterminded in the shadow of population centers sympathetic to their ideological cause. Today’s and tomorrow’s enemies are not nation states such as the former Soviet Union, but rather mobile entities within states such as Al-Qaeda that have both the capability to strike abroad as well as inside our borders.


The United States and the Alliance are in the midst of a complex transformation to provide forces that are light, mobile, and rapidly deployable and that can be sustained as needed—in short, forces able to carry out the full spectrum of Alliance missions. With this fundamental shift, the transatlantic defense industry has strengthened its efforts in reconnaissance, surveillance, and network-centric warfare 

Each day in Afghanistan and Iraq, the brave men and women of many Alliance nations and their coalition partners are putting their lives at risk. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

As an executive in our Defense Industry, I keenly feel the need to bring forward the ingenuity of our company and make available the systems that protect our open societies and that thwart the agents of terrorism who challenge our Alliances values. 

As the Alliance considers equipping the NATO Response Force, it should seek to leverage the investments being made in the richness of sensors, the reach afforded by connectivity and the ability to provide relevancy from this information that produces knowledge enablement simultaneously for all levels of command. 

In the previous historical epoch, the three R’s represented reading, writing and arithmetic. Those skills provided the references for exchange that shepherded in the Renaissance and allowed for standardization of scientific inquiry, and ultimately brought about the Industrial age. The three R’s that are becoming the tenets of the Information Age—richness, reach, and relevancy—will be no less important. 

In hindsight, we can now see that Moore’s law has produced three successive management agendas: high volume data processing, decentralizing networks and the deconstruction of the richness and reach dynamic. 

Metcalf’s Law made the information more powerful and enabled the navigator to condition the data, tailoring it for their use while eliminating the need for the actors in between the end-user and the source. 

America’s businesses restructuring over the past decade was a result of implementing these successive management agendas. The rise in corporations’ profitability and competitiveness is now seen as an actual determinate of these information age innovations and the restructuring of our industries has shown a positive impact to their productivity growth. 

The industrial age could be characterized by extremely organized bureaucratic institutions with tightly controlled flows of information through a hierarchical structure for centralized decision making. The information age broke down the centralized organizational structures and encourages a freer flow of information while empowering decision making at the lowest responsible level of operations. 

Harnessing the power of the information age will require an understanding of the information technology paradigm and its transformational effects on the Alliance’s member nations, their military strategy and their deployment tactics. We can postulate that professional militaries will demand and continue to equip their forces with more ubiquitous C4ISR and that they will organize to extract the advantages that this new technology and its inherent flexibility and agility provide. 

In the past, the controlling reality of war was uncertainty. The “fog of war” meant that commanders managed these uncertainties with regard to location of their own forces, the location of adjacent friendly forces, and the positions and intentions of their adversaries. Owing to these uncertainties and ambiguities, armies would mass along extended front lines; protect their flanks, mass “Iron Mountains” of supplies in the rear, which also required protection. 

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, much of that changed. Manned and unmanned airplanes and satellites carried aloft the richness of sensors that monitored movement on the ground day or night, in all kinds of weather. As a result, the fog of war was lifted, revealing an electronically described landscape that gave our commanders a highly detailed picture of the battlefield through the reach afforded by connectivity. 

Global Hawk—our unmanned high-altitude long endurance surveillance aircraft—is one example. Flying only three percent of high-altitude sorties, Global Hawk located and identified 55 percent of all time-critical targets. As the conflict progressed, the pilots of our strike fighters asked to be vectored into sectors supported by Global Hawk because they knew they would be much more likely to find and destroy mobile and fleeting targets. 

In another example, when an Iraqi commander tried to attack the exposed flank of an extended American column under cover of a sandstorm his forces were easily spotted by our airborne sensors and quickly decimated by a precision strike. 

And it wasn’t simply commanders getting close to real-time information. In many instances this included the U.S. and British soldier or Marine in the field whose armored vehicles, trucks and Humvees were outfitted with satellite antennas and laptop computers netted together in a wireless web. This new system is called Blue Force Tracking, and it provides the war fighter with answers to three critical questions: Where am I? Where are my compatriots? And where is the enemy? In other words, it provides close to real-time situational awareness. 

Operation Iraqi Freedom has been called the first network-centric war. What that means is that, owing to the added value of information technology, we were able to conduct joint integrated operations quickly and more effectively with comparatively fewer platforms and people. On the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, the key lesson learned can be boiled down into a short equation: on future battlefields, information can substitute for mass of both personnel and materiel. Information is a decisive force multiplier. 

The three R’s ability to gather, manage, assimilate huge amounts of information can help reverse the asymmetries that terrorists have been exploiting to attack our free societies. Leveraging these R’s can come to define this historical epoch’s “offset strategy,” and manage the investments relevant to the NATO out-of-area forces we seek to build.


NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) is a noteworthy example of an investment for the new era in which transatlantic cooperation between government and industry has borne excellent results and where the capabilities will become essential to the objectives of the NRF. When the North Atlantic Council took the decision in 2001 to stand up a NATO-owned and operated Alliance Ground Surveillance capability by 2010, industries on both sides of the Atlantic answered to the call by proposing a viable industry concept to fulfill the requirement. By April 2002, a transatlantic team initially composed of EADS, Galileo Avionica and Northrop Grumman had developed a Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution, commonly known as TIPS, for NATO’s consideration. In short order, Thales of France, Indra of Spain and General Dynamics Canada joined the team, making this an industrial powerhouse of companies with tremendous capabilities, all focused on answering NATO’s call. Today, more than 75 committed industrial partners from all 26 NATO nations are participating in the program. 

I am proud to say that on April 22nd, NATO selected the TIPS industry consortium to provide its Alliance Ground Surveillance System. Our TIPS mixed fleet concept, taking advantage of the capabilities of the mid-size jet platform and the high altitude UAV will provide a responsive, deployable backbone for EU and Alliance operations. The Airbus 321 and Global Hawk are proven platforms with well-established and reliable logistics and training programs. All phases of the program are multinational, from definition through design and development to production and life cycle support, and, ultimately, training and operations. 

The TIPS NATO AGS System will provide situational awareness through a shared common grid that will be available to NATO and national decision makers. Using NATO standard links and procedures, forces of all nations will be able to participate with full access to all information. Crews will be multinational, with aircraft and ground stations manned by all participating nations. TIPS will present the NATO Response Force with a critical core capability by 2010, to meet NATO’s ISR and command and control requirements for the twenty-first century industry. This is precisely the sort of success we can expect when governments and industry work closely together on projects of such immense importance to the Alliance. In the TIPS business case, over 70 percent of the funding for this program and over 70 percent of the jobs will accrue to European industry. 


Neither North America nor Europe can afford duplication of forces. I am encouraged, therefore, that NATO and the EU have ensured with the new “Berlin Plus” protocol that capabilities such as NATO AGS will be available for EU operations. Limits on defense budgets alone tell us that we cannot afford to duplicate efforts on either side of the Atlantic. This is especially true of our inclination to continue funding for legacy systems that are not relevant to the current threat and that compete for funding with those critical technologies needed for the battlefields of the future. Nor can we afford to “reinvent” technological solutions, which already exist. 

A prime example of transatlantic industrial and government-to-government cooperation supporting European military transformation is the Euro Hawk program, a co-development leveraging Northrop-Grumman’s experience with the Global Hawk UAV, together with EADS on-board electronics and sensors. The successful German ELINT demonstration flights conducted in late October 2003 from the NATO base at Nordholz were the first High Altitude, Long Endurance UAV flights to take place in German airspace. This was a path-finding demonstration, pointing the way for practical solutions to national, NATO, and EU surveillance requirements. As this program matures, EADS and Northrop Grumman will become 50/50 partners in this effort with each of us contributing our own core competencies and technologies. On future deployments, the Euro Hawk could provide commanders unparalleled wide area search while also acting as an indispensable communications and data relay platform for widely dispersed units.  

My lasting message today is that industry is ready to deliver information age solutions for our war fighters. We are ready with mature technologies; ready with cost-effective solutions; and ready to cooperate fully to satisfy national, NATO, and EU needs for modern defense systems capable of meeting present and future threats to our security and stability.


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