Center for Strategic Decision Research


How Do We Define the Capability-Development Process?

Mr. Patrick Auroy
Director for Force Systems and
Industrial, Technological, and Cooperation Strategies,
Delegation Generale pour l'Armement,
Ministry of Defense of France

How will our capability needs be fulfilled in terms of concept and equipment? At this stage, and in this age of rapidly evolving information and communication technologies, the dialogue between operations people—experts in technologies and defense equipment manufacturers—is paramount. Shortening the loop regarding requirements, technologies, costs, and performance will be a major challenge, but many countries are already succeeding in defining the capability management process for their own purposes. However, clearly we must make more progress in that field, both for NATO and for Europe. 


In NATO, the creation of Allied Command Transformation was a great step forward. For Europe, the creation of the European Defense Agency in 2004, and the increase of its power in 2005, was a very positive step too. The High Representative for Common and Foreign Security Policy, Javier Solana, is the head of the agency. In addition, the coexistence of four branches devoted to capabilities, research and technology, equipment programs, and technological-industrial monitoring is certainly a key to success. The European Defense Agency, which is based on existing European treaties and is in no way affected by the European Constitution issue, represents a major step with a political impetus from the Defense ministers who are on the steering board. 


Aside from the essential collective defense insurance that NATO provides, the organization also has a key role in defining interoperability requirements and in managing large transatlantic programs such as the Air Command and Control System (ACCS). The Alliance is engaged in the main transformation process in which France intends to contribute strongly. As Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French minister for defense, said, NATO’s approach and the European Union’s approach are complementary. Burden sharing and efficiency multiplication among European countries contribute in a major way to NATO efficiency and also are a prerequisite for European operations. 


While transatlantic cooperation, bilateral or multilateral or through NATO, contributes in an important way to providing capabilities, it nevertheless needs to be improved to better balance the two sides of the Atlantic. On the European side, efforts are being made to increase the efficiency of defense spending and to increase research and technology efforts, both individual and collective. On the other side, more thought must be put into technology transfer to ensure the security of suppliers as well as national security. 

Here again, European cooperation is essential while looking towards an efficient and lasting transatlantic cooperation. Much progress has been made in Europe for the last several years, including the creation of global defense companies able to propose state-of-the-art equipment and systems. The aeronautical and electronic sectors have also made progress with the emergence of large companies such as EADS, MBDA, and THALES and the recent merger of SNECMA and SAGEM in the SAFRAN company in France. However, other sectors, including the army and navy, must still go through consolidation.  

Technological excellence and increased competition are the main ingredients needed to drive the capability-development process. But innovation in small and medium companies must be supported in great measure either by governments or by major suppliers. 





















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