Center for Strategic Decision Research


Defense Planning Innovation:
A Challenge to the Defense Industry Transformation?

State Secretary Ion Mircea Plangu
State Secretary for Policy,
Ministry of Defense of Romania

The format of this seminar has brought together decision makers, defense industry representatives, producers, researchers, and the military. So, I’ll try to summarize my presentation, stressing the consequences for the defense industry, because I think we need to talk about research and production—the efforts to generate an impressive, technology-driven future. 


My first thoughts are about what I call “de-planning.” I use this word because it is pretty clear that the classic approach to defense is very rigid, too rigid, and defense planners know all too well that they must work on the longer perspective, eight or maybe ten years out. The Cold War was a splendid model for having all data at hand—though they had to fight for their budgets, planners were in a comfortable position because they knew what was necessary. But the new scenarios generate a certain force structure that then generates capabilities and then necessary equipment, making things much less certain. Even high-ranking NATO generals have expressed the need for specific scenarios and concepts. 

We all know that we must work on creating comprehensive political guidance in order to orient the work and from there the types of missions and the type of thinking that is needed. Everyone involved in defense planning knows that we have been following a moving target and that such a strategy has resulted in losses. Why? Because of rigidity, lack of speed, and lack of adaptation. Many losses have come from using a classic approach. 

When I was in Romania I spoke about transformation from a different perspective. I said that while we must pay attention to technology, the majority of our nations live and adapt and look toward the future in very pragmatic ways. Of course, the U.S. approach is impressive, but I believe we need a toolbox of approaches so that we have the appropriate tools for the various missions. And since each mission has a certain probability, each approach has the probability of being used. This is a challenge to the industry, because we must think in certain terms. We must think about production, making choices about quantities and qualities of systems in accordance with possible future missions—and these capabilities must actually function, not just be stored somewhere. Generating the necessary systems in the necessary quantity to cover all the possible approaches is a real challenge. 


In its process of transformation, our industry faces many obstacles and one of those obstacles is actually the defense industry itself. Companies keep lobbying hard to sell their classic-approach equipment, which still exists in large quantities. The interesting part for them, of course, is that they are pursuing an income, not really pushing a certain process. The old scenarios are actually an obstacle. So we need to think about transformation from the perspective of probabilities. 

An observation I would like to make, and this is not an official position, is that thinking of the NATO Response Force as a basket may have some advantages but also some disadvantages. It is very comfortable to have a basket of forces ready to be used and we may think about situations when that response force designed for a high-intensity conflict environment may be used. But the response force may also be an excuse for the nations and their lack of available forces for all the types of missions. So there is a hidden problem with that too and it is to be discussed within NATO. 


In addition to needing to abandon rigidity in defense planning and to switch to another mode of thinking, we also need to imagine the unimaginable. An example of the unimaginable is the events of September 11. The situation that could develop in Iran is something else that has been unimaginable but it is now becoming imaginable. In all unimaginable scenarios, intelligence must be on the forefront in order to make a good prognosis. This is essential for our future, and it has consequences for our industry. These consequences include not only creating sophisticated equipment, but envisioning and meeting new mission requirements. We will need a source of innovation in order to prevent the unimaginable from happening. And to face the new decentralized threat, from cells and individuals in various locations, and to handle simultaneous attacks, we will need innovative thinkers in both the military and the security industry. Intelligence must therefore be a priority for years to come. 

Another aspect of the new millennium, which was well described by my colleague Jaromir Novotny, is that insecurity seems to become pervasive and that we are accepting it as normal. Conflicts have moved from crisis situations to routine, and despite the uniqueness of each crisis and region, it now is usual to have a conflict somewhere. This has an effect on the psychological perceptions of the public, with very concrete consequences. There are costs for security, including home defense, security systems, and border-control policies and very expensive systems, all of which are accepted as standard and against which producers must attune their operations. I believe producers are keeping pace and have the necessary systems ready, but there are costs when insecurity is perceived as a normal state. 


Regarding stabilization and reconstruction, they have become part of mission planning; some capabilities have already been imbedded in the force structure for deployment, but again they have consequences for the industry. Infrastructure equipment and security equipment are very important areas. In Afghanistan, serious and difficult work is being done to really build up the infrastructure and local administration, which is generating another chapter of activity for the industry and for producers.

Industry cooperation is a subject that has already been mentioned. We all know that the United States and Europe each have a certain legal framework. In Europe we know that national options dominate, generating national requirements, and national industries generate large obstacles because they are very well defined. Difficulties also result because different European policies are in different stages of development. We still need to work together in order to generate coherence for European policies and this takes time. Let’s not forget that  it took more than 1400 years for China to do so.  

To conclude, I believe we should think more about transatlantic multinationals as very important vehicles of integration and possibility. I also believe we need to speed up the process of facing the new challenges. 








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