The current financial woes have underlined the need for more efficient defense spending, not only by individual NATO Members but also by the Alliance as a whole. Smart Defense, "ensuring greater security, for less money, by working together with more flexibility", is one way to address the issue. However, countries have reservations about the pooling of defense resources, seeing as such initiatives might result in diminished sovereignty.
Atlantic-community.org's policy workshop competition already produced an Atlantic Memo addressing such concerns. However, we received many good ideas that could not be incorporated into the memo. The following article integrates those ideas in addressing how to implement Smart Defense amongst NATO Members. The author's hyperlinked last name at the end of a sentence indicates from whom an idea came; if you wish to read the entire article from where the ideas originated, click on the author's name.
1. Further refine NATO's overall strategy.
Smart Defense runs much deeper than simple coordination between different national militaries. Indeed, the concept goes to the very heart of the Alliance and how the relationship between NATO Members is defined. Such a pooling of defense resources requires Members to set aside some concerns over a loss of sovereignty. Overcoming such fears will only occur however when Members truly agree on NATO's overall purpose and strategic goals (Eckert, Shah, Toal). The Alliance's 2010 Strategic Concept did not go far enough to prioritize the threats faced by NATO. This lack of widespread strategic agreement will only make Smart Defense more difficult to implement.
2. Enhance Europe's role.
Europe has an important role to play in Smart Defense. Especially with extensive cuts to European defense budgets, the initiative is more critical than ever. In crafting NATO's new Strategic Concept, the Alliance appeared to recognize the previous failings in the EU-NATO relationship. With this in mind, NATO must seek a true strategic partnership with the EU (Panayotova). For example, NATO could help guide the liberalization of the European defense market in order to create more efficient defense industries (Guimarães).
3. Build on regional groupings and existing examples.
Gradualism is an important part of Smart Defense. Such an initiative will not simply take place over night. The concept can only be introduced slowly and in a flexible manner (Minzarari). Limited cooperation amongst smaller groups of nations would make Smart Defense more flexible and more likely to be implemented (Pannier). In addition, NATO should build on existing co-management military mechanisms that have proven their worth in recent years (Dowdall). The strongest example of this is the multilateral European Air Transport Command (EATC). Operational since 2010, the EATC comprises four NATO Members (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands) pooling and co-managing a fleet of over 200 logistics and transport aircraft.
Jonathan Dowdall is a Brussels-based journalist and researcher.
Moritz Eckert studies political science at Freie Universität Berlin. He currently works at the Institute for European Politics in Berlin.
José Guimarães is an International Relations Student at the University of Minho.
Dumitru Minzarari is a PhD Candidate with the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, United States.
Iliana Panayotova is an Intern in the Public Affairs Office at the NATO Defense College. She obtained her LL.M. degree at Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Alice Pannier is a postgraduate student in International Relations at Université Paris 1.
Tabish Shah is a PhD Candidate at the University of Warwick in the Department of Politics & International Studies.
Zachary Toal, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) North America
Written by Joshua Clapp