Center for Strategic Decision Research


International Cooperation: Providing the Capabilities

Dr. Hans-Heinrich Weise
Ministerialdirektor, Director of the Armaments Division,
Ministry of Defense of Germany

The German Defense Political Guidelines that were released in May 2003 made international cooperation the first priority in contrast with national activities; other defense ministers at this workshop agree with this viewpoint. Behind this position is the expectation that political, military, and technological cooperation will support common strategic objectives, constitute the basis for joint military operations, and finally lead to the development and procurement of the best equipment for the armed forces at the most economical costs.

Undoubtedly, except for the military, there is still a long way to go in all of these areas in order to achieve the objectives. But there is no alternative to doing so. The challenges and experiences of the new international situation have taught us that we must act together. As we change there is good opportunity to develop our forces conceptually, operationally, and technically along common lines and to develop the common capabilities required for joint international operations. In this context Allied Command Transformation plays a key role for establishing the NATO-wide guidelines and the framework for this process, with which European transformation processes must be compatible. The one single set of forces with which we serve NATO as well as EU goals leaves no other solution. 


During the last two years, Germany has undertaken major efforts to initiate the process of transformation and to reorient its armaments planning towards the new objectives. We have differentiated our armed forces into response, stabilization, and support forces according to the capabilities required for international missions. The national response forces allow us to contribute to the NATO Response Forces (NRF) and to the EU Battle Groups.

In the armaments planning we have eliminated “old” projects of a volume of about 26 billion Euros in order to make investing in technology and systems for the “new” capabilities a priority. As an aside here, let me say that I do not quite share the optimism of the ministers who said previously that there is increased public support for higher defense spending. There is no question that we are requesting higher budgets in order to achieve our goals rapidly, as the situation requires, but it is more than doubtful that we will get them.

All transformation measures have the clearly defined aim of rendering all international Bundeswehr engagements as effective as possible, especially by increasing its engagement capability in worldwide international operations. Hence, the transformation of the Bundeswehr is not an isolated national process but is integrated within the far-reaching EU and NATO transformation processes. This makes it a necessity for Germany and the German armed forces to cooperate internationally. 


Fortunately, the instruments of European defense cooperation are also undergoing transformation. The 1998 Letter of Intent (LoI) created by six European countries (Germany, France, the U.K., Spain, Sweden, and Italy) represented a significant milestone for cooperation. The agreement envisaged the development of appropriate joint measures regarding the restructuring of the European defense industry, notably in the fields of security of supply, information security, standardization and simplification of export procedures, research and technology, the treatment of technical information, and the harmonization of military requirements. The Framework Agreement regarding the Letter of Intent was signed by the defense ministers of the six aforementioned countries in July of 2000, which undoubtedly has led to the tangible results seen in improved defense industry cooperation between major European nations.

The creation of the European Defense Agency (EDA) in 2004 broadened the scope of European defense industry cooperation. The EDA is responsible for the entire cooperative process, from identifying capability requirements to initiating research and technology programs to supporting the establishment of a European industrial base to developing provisions for procuring the material required. In light of the recent votes against a European constitution, it is important to note that EDA has its own legal entity as a result of the so-called joint action taken by the European Council on July 12, 2004. The organization, therefore, is legally independent of the outcome of the national ratification processes of the European Union’s Constitutional Treaty, and on this basis will become the center of a network based on existing European defense cooperation structures. The EDA will therefore be able to function alongside and in conjunction with existing NATO structures. 

In this context, OCCAR, the Organization for Joint Armaments Cooperation, constitutes one of the building blocks in the EDA network. OCCAR has proven itself capable of managing multi-national defense projects and is prepared to take on further cooperation programs transferred from the EDA. From the defense industry’s viewpoint, this will lead to the strengthening of the European defense technology base. (You may be interested to know that all Western European Armament Group [WEAG] activities were terminated as of May 23, 2005, because, in accordance with the LoI/FA policies, WEAG activities are integrated into the activities of the EDA.) However, the process of institutional European armaments cooperation initiated in 2004 under the continuous direct control of the defense ministers, which is beginning to pick up speed, is no more and no less than Europe’s contribution to the strengthening of the Euro-Atlantic community. 


The recent visit by President Bush to Europe has given several encouraging signals that emphasize a renewal of the transatlantic partnership on the basis of common values and common interests. But we all must support this renewal with substance. Europe must live up to its responsibilities and group its resources in order to realize its objective of becoming a proper global player. The U.S. will also have to prove that it takes Europe seriously as a critical partner. 

In the area of armaments cooperation we need a new basis and new initiatives. In the light of new international challenges and joint missions we need fair technology cooperation between all partners and we need it as soon as possible in order to overcome national protectionist measures, especially in Europe but also in the U.S. Happily there is a solid basis from which to start. A broad spectrum of data exchange agreements on research and technology have been in existence between Europe and the U.S. for quite some time. Europe offers expertise and competence to the U.S. in several fields, and Germany and the U.S. cooperate in numerous weapons programs, including RAM, MLRS, Stinger, PATRIOT, MIDS-LVT, HARM-PNU, and ESSM, to name a few. 

The most recent developments concerning the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which, besides the Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS) NATO project, constitutes the only major transatlantic armaments project, make me very happy. The approval of the development contract by the German Parliament demonstrates Germany’s commitment to the common objectives and to the Alliance. I am also optimistic about achieving further success in our cooperation with the U.S. on Euro Hawk, the proposed bilateral defense industry cooperative effort that is based on the U.S. Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance platform. 


We have positioned ourselves well by adapting the instruments and the substance of armaments cooperation to the changed security environment. We can therefore look to the future with some confidence, but our future path must be a mutual one. 




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