Center for Strategic Decision Research


Lessons from the Post-Cold War:
Recommendations for Response to the New Threats

Mr. Denis Ranque
Chairman and CEO, Thales

I see four lessons that we learned from the post-Cold War and post-September 11 era: First, we face very diverse threats and instabilities that are challenging our global security. Second, we have learned that our responses and measures must cover a very wide spectrum, ranging from domestic and international civil security requirements to surveillance, deterrent deployments, peacekeeping, post-conflict counter-insurgency, stabilization, and reconstruction operations. Third, globalization has produced a shared interest among the developed nations in facing the new threats; and indeed no nation can face them on its own. Fourth, the threat is no longer at our borders, but there are no borders to the threats. 

Because of the new state of the world, security has become one of the basic challenges in the 21st century. For our military forces, that means more emphasis needs to be placed on deployable, usable, and sustainable forces, mainly expeditionary forces, as Giampaolo Di Paola told us in his speech. There is also a clear need for much more C4ISR/ISTAR, as Klaus Nauman mentioned. In addition, not least because we are increasingly engaged in wars in a civil environment, we need more effective engagement capabilities including better precision attack and stand-off weapons. Finally, because we are acting in coalitions, we need interoperability between sea, air, and land forces within a given nation but also across allied nations.

Quite a similar shift is required for civil security, where we must expect greater emphasis on intelligence, border and maritime surveillance, identity assurance, command and control and crisis management preparedness, transverse security operations (putting together police, fire, rescue, the military, etc.—very similar to network-centric defense capabilities), and international cooperation and interoperability. 

Overall, two things are clear: First, both military and civil security crises are likely to reoccur and will need similar capabilities if we are to address them effectively. Second, military and civil forces must be better prepared, better able to react to those crises, better able to work with each other, and better able to cooperate in effects-based operations. 


Technical solutions survey, detect, qualify the threats, alert appropriate authorities, integrate and process the information, propose solutions, monitor actions to assess effects, and so on. Network-enabled capabilities in particular offer huge new possibilities for improving effectiveness in both the civil and military fields. Today’s emphasis is therefore on investment in better utilization and coordination of forces (rapid and effective response) rather than on new platforms or new weapons, except for perhaps deployment platforms, as Jean-Louis Gergorin mentioned in his speech. Effects-based operations need new network-centric tools, for example, combined and networked political, military, and civil crisis centers. Already, we are seeing flat or decreasing global investment in planned platform-related programs, including weapons systems, at least in the short term. We do still see some counter-examples, however, and in some European countries I am afraid we see some programs that seem to be fighting the old wars rather than the new ones. 

Nevertheless, investment in C4ISR programs and service-related programs is increasing. C4ISR programs, for example the U.K.’s new UAV system Watchkeeper that Thales was happy to win last year, are growing by about 8 percent per annum. Similarly, as Jean-Louis Gergorin also said, outsourcing of PFI programs, such as the U.K.’s FSTA and Germany’s NH90 training system, is also accelerating in order to fill the gap more rapidly between what we need and what we can fund. 

To efficiently create those capabilities, both industry and governments must adapt to the new model. Industry is already adapting—we have seen across Europe the first steps of consolidation. Much has already been done in the aerospace and electronics sectors; there is still a lot to do in the naval and land sectors. In terms of technology, European defense companies are now investing heavily in network-enabled systems and integration centers capable of addressing civil as well as military security issues. At Thales, we have developed the Thales Battlespace Transformation Center, with an integration center which interconnects our existing legacy systems with simulated new systems and allows experimentation for customers. The center itself is a network of distributed facilities in different sites and countries and pulls together our capabilities across the different services and in homeland security, drawing on our capabililties in all the main countries where we are working—the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore etc., as well as France. We see many  other defense electronic companies now similarly applying their expertise to the broader security civil work, which is more difficult to handle because it is a more dispersed threat. Information system companies coming from the civil side, such as IBM and Cisco, are also contributing both directly and through organizations such as the NCOIC, which puts together pretty much all the world-class companies involved in network-centric warfare. 


At the government level, one sees some efforts to improve coordination nationally. Most of the major nations now think in terms of joint operations rather than stovepipes between air, sea, and land. But at the multinational/international level, there are few signs of improvement: Military, civil, economic, diplomatic, and humanitarian agencies appear as stovepiped as ever. In Europe in particular can we be satisfied with the progress made? Are there sufficient cross-border preparations for responding to threats? Is there even sufficient debate and dialogue with security stakeholders? I am afraid not. And are we working together with our transatlantic partners closely enough? Have we done everything possible to facilitate cooperation? Probably not, as well. 

Then what about capabilities investment? Of course, you would expect me to say that more investment is needed, especially by the Europeans, and this is true. It is also true that the European industry is finding it increasingly difficult to fund the research and technology investment required to support the new C4ISR capabilities we need without the same level of customer funding that our colleagues enjoy in the United States. By the way, I want to stress one point here: I very often hear about the so-called technology gap across the Atlantic in the field of C4ISR. I used to say it wasn’t true, and I now have a supporter on the other side of the Atlantic. George Washington University surveyed this issue thoroughly for the Pentagon, asking the question: How big is the gap between Europe and the U.S. with respect to technology? The answer was very clear. The gap is not so much technological as it is budgetary. In Europe we have all the basic technology we need to grow the C4ISR as much as we need to but we lack government money to deploy it at the appropriate level. Another outcome of this study—this is my one second of publicizing Thales—is that Thales is by far the most prepared company in Europe to manage C4ISR systems. 

My main message, however, is not about money. It is not about spending more, it is about spending smarter. We need better cooperation in R&T across Europe. It is miserable that the 25 European EU countries spend a third of what the U.S. spends. And in addition to that, we have the luxury of splitting that expenditure into 25, albeit mostly in four or five nations. We need to better harmonize our requirements. We need to consolidate and unify our internal European markets. Thales and many other European companies favor a unified armaments market across Europe. Of course, we need to unify with caution because at the same time we need to continue to nurture our industrial basis in Europe, taking into account the unbalanced exchange of armaments across the Atlantic. But these steps cost nothing and they would yield benefits. They are already on the agenda of the European Defense Agency. Let’s hope that governments will act to make them a reality. 


I would like to end with some suggestions for immediate actions to be taken by industry and governments together. 

First, let’s launch some cross-domain (civil and military) security concept studies with industrial involvement at both the European and NATO levels. Perhaps as a pilot study we could examine multinational maritime security to discover where there is under- or over-investment in that field, where the gaps are, and the options for improvement. Parallel studies could be done in NATO and the EU followed by a seminar to address the results—why not? 

Second, let’s give an immediate boost to transformation and interoperability by funding more of the work that needs to be done in Europe and in the U.S. to establish industry standards for NATO Network Enabled Capability. NCOIC will oversee the effort, consulting governments, but industry will also bear the burden of supporting architecture studies. Therefore why should there not be NATO/EDA funding for this? 

Third, let’s start joint and parallel EU/U.S. actions to fix the regulations nightmare that is plaguing transatlantic and intra-European defense technological cooperation. As an example, let me tell you that across Europe, regarding the intra-European licensing of technology, 12,627 licenses were filed in 2003 and only 15 of them were refused. Do we need that burden when we talk about building up Europe? 

Last but not least, let’s set up a public-private forum in Europe to promote debate and establish standards for enhancing civil security. Such fora already exist in the U.S., but not in Europe to my knowledge. A forum could also help to build public support for new measures that we need in that field. 





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