Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Need for an Allied Convergence Architecture

Eng. José Rodrigues Pereira dos Penedos
Secretary of State for Defense of Portugal

Today’s environment after the Cologne European Council meeting is one that is very hopeful of establishing a common foreign and security policy. It is also hopeful of better cooperation between NATO and the Western European Union in a new Security and Defense Identity.

The Kosovo crisis showed NATO members the importance of a common approach to threats, risks, human rights, the right of military intervention according to international law, national defense, and the limits of national egoism. But it also showed how much we need to care about air performance and becoming more and more target oriented. The conflict also left us with unresolved issues, such as national autonomy—since each situation has its own peculiarities, questions linger about the decisionmaking process when military intervention is required abroad.


The prevention of conflicts must be a priority of each member-state, but prevention can be achieved only by gaining greater expertise and capabilities within a common foreign and security policy. Since we are dealing with defense matters, we must share common defense ideas. We must also improve cooperation in the fields of training and deployment of multinational formations.

The majority of member-states are facing cuts in defense budgets at the same time that interoperability criteria are demanding new, expensive technology. Therefore, threats and risks to the sovereignty of any member-state must be met by all the Allies equally. To answer today’s challenges we can give no room to geopolitical egoism. Therefore we must find and build some kind of convergence architecture.


As global restructuring takes place, we must reserve some space for smaller countries and their defense industries. Within NATO, these countries represent half of the nineteen member-nations. But how should a country like Portugal, with a developing defense industrial base, envision the participation of its scientific, technological, and industrial capabilities in a globally competitive environment? Currently we are strongly dependent on a tiny internal market, and we will need to compete in an open market against much larger, sustainable international companies. However, the need to develop and preserve an operational military capability able to cope with the new threats could lead to equipment modernization and armaments procurement that could sustain existing industrial activity. Opening up our industry and finding a partner with which to work across borders looks like the only way forward. But the need to develop new capabilities also requires a new approach to armaments procurement, not just for the smaller countries, but for all NATO members. The CJTF experience must be reflected in new plans.

It should be remembered that Portugal is a founding member of NATO that has borne its responsibilities not only within the framework of the Alliance but also as part of the U.N. peacekeeping missions, respecting each nation’s rights within the international framework. Our armed forces are currently updating and modernizing equipment, defense technologies, and weapons systems to be able to continue in this work in joint operations outside our territory. We are also planning to develop and keep a technologically competitive niche in areas such as design, development and production, and systems engineering in aeronautics, telecommunications, electronics, ship building, and manufacturing of small arms and ammunitions. I must point out, however, that any investment in the modernization of defense infrastructures must meet the objectives of our national defense industries capability.


In order to make real progress in building up European military capabilities and integrating them further, we will require more financial resources devoted to defense as well as new financing schemes for defense budgets such as leasing. We also need to develop, according to well-defined objectives, European multinational capabilities following the principles of complementarity and non-duplication of efforts. In addition we need a clear vision of an efficient European defense industry, one that respects the interests of smaller countries.

The European Union is based on fundamental principles and values such as solidarity and social cohesion, and is committed to pursuing a common foreign security and defense policy in which armaments cooperation and defense industry restructuring are important components. Within the Union’s structures, everything should be done to facilitate effective cooperation and to enable developing and small industrial countries to fully participate in a European chain of added value. Transparent relations must also evolve between the EU and NATO. To this end, a convergence plan must be established and new financing schemes, such as military leasing, must be adopted.







Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research