Rome '08 Workshop

Why We Need a Strong Technology Base 

Dr. Edgar Buckley

Thales Senior Vice President 

Dr. Edgar Buckley


I want to start with a simple point, which is that the defense industry and defense technology base as well as civilian security forces are capabilities in just the same way military forces are. You commonly see capabilities expressed in terms of military and civilian assets, but you hardly ever see capabilities defined to include the defense industry and defense technology. To prove my point, if you look in the European Union’s security strategy and do a word search for the word “industry,” you will not find it. And if you do a word search for the word “technology,” you will not find it either. So here is a security strategy that thinks it can do it all without the defence industry, and I hardly think that is possible. 

I do not think you can have strong defense and security without a strong defense and technology base. We need that in the United States. We also need it in Europe. I have yet to hear Al Volkman say that we need a strong European defense industrial technology base, though I hope I will soon. I have said it about the United States, so it is only fair that he should say it about Europe. 

In Europe, then, we need to push ahead with building a strong European defense, and I think Thomas Homberg gave us the recipe for that. At the same time, we need to strengthen transatlantic defense industrial cooperation, including taking steps to streamline, simplify, and make more logical and efficient the regulatory practices on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course, when such regulations serve a security purpose, we need to keep them and make them work efficiently. 


That is all I want to say about this process. Now I want to talk about two successful transatlantic ventures my company is involved in —one is called Thales Raytheon Systems and the other is the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC). 

Thales Raytheon Systems (TRS) is a 50-50 joint venture with Raytheon, the only functioning joint venture of its type. It operates with an integrated management, not a proxy board, and because it has a special security agreement called a Security Control Agreement, it operates as a proper company. TRS employs 1,500 people on both sides of the Atlantic and is successful. It delivers one of the most important backbone items for NATO and Europe, the Air Command and Control System (ACCS), which will be coming to the end of its development tests in the next few months. That system is also going to be at the heart of NATO’s active layer theater ballistic missile defense system. We have formed a TRS-led group of companies to bid for this contract that includes Lockheed Martin, Selex, EADS and IABG. It is a very good consortium and we think we will soon have a contract to provide the software for theater missile defense. 

Why is this company successful? I think there are three reasons why transatlantic cooperation has worked here. First of all, it is a venture that has very strong support from the parent companies. They stuck with it even when the going was difficult. Just as important, it has very strong support from the governments on both sides. The company would never have been set up if we had not had active support from officials in the Pentagon and from French authorities. Third, the company is focused strongly on operational needs. 

Now let me turn to a second example of successful transatlantic cooperation, the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium. In just over three years, NCOIC has also become an outstanding success. Over 100 companies are involved, mostly from the United States and Europe, including almost every major company in the defense and information systems business. 

Though NCOIC has not yet delivered breakthrough products, we think it will. We have settled on how we are going to deliver network-centricity on a global basis, and that is through defining repeatable patterns of how to solve problems in a network-centric architecture. There are not that many patterns that we will have to agree on before we can significantly accelerate network-centricity, which is what we want to see. 

With NCOIC we also have very strong support from the governments and the international organizations involved. We have a star-studded group of people on our advisory council, including the four senior NATO officials responsible for NATO Network Enabled Capability. We also have very senior representatives of the U.S. and European governments, including the Honorable John Grimes. All the allied countries, apart from Spain, are involved. In addition, the European Defense Agency is participating. We have brought everybody together and we are all contributing to making this work. 


I draw two key conclusions from what I’ve talked about: 

  • When we go forward in this community to write new security strategies, don’t forget the defense technology and industrial base. We will not achieve anything without it. 
  • We can achieve success if we all commit to it, governments as well as companies. We must work together. It is not easy, but together we can succeed. 
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