NATO Allied Command Transformation is pursuing game-changing solutions to meet the uncertain security challenges of the future, said Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros.
“To succeed we believe in the strength of continuous innovation,” Gen. Paloméros said to an audience of NATO officials and industry professionals at the Industry Engages NATO Symposium, April 14 in Norfolk, Virginia. The Symposium was organized by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Norfolk NATO Festival.
The general reminded the audience of the volatility of the security environment which presents a continuous challenge for the Alliance, such as the rise in tensions with Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the emergence of ISIL.
“We are trying to invent the future to preserve democracy as we have done for 66 years in the collective defense of more than 900 million people... It is our duty to prepare for the future,” Gen. Paloméros said.
“We must invest in the technology of the future… We must be able to fight using the best technology,” Gen. Paloméros said. “We will never be able to foresee the future… but we will be ready."
“We must improve the efficiency of investment,” Gen. Paloméros said. “We must leverage the full potential of industry… and assume our enemies are doing the same.”
The general and other ACT officials described NATO modernization efforts and the complex security problems facing the 28-nation Alliance, including: hybrid warfare, cybersecurity, training and education.
Training and education, that is enhancing the skills of NATO forces, are among Gen. Paloméros’ top priorities as SACT.
“The good news is that we have the framework to cooperate and a NATO Roadmap, dedicated people … the day-to-day cooperation of the transatlantic Alliance and 41 partner nations that want to work with us,” the general said.
Top technologies for investment include: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; unmanned autonomous vehicles; cybersecurity; exercises and training.
“We need credible, affordable and sustainable technologies,” Gen. Paloméros said. “We want to unleash the creativity of our skilled men and women to define new concepts, new efficient processes and to identify new opportunities.”
Gen. Paloméros remarked on the reduced defense spending levels facing Allied nations, but he also emphasized the resilience of the 66-year old Alliance and its successful security cooperation efforts, most recently in Afghanistan.
Gen. Paloméros invited industry to engage with the 23 NATO Centers of Excellence, coordinated by Allied Command Transformation, with each one focusing on a specific field of expertise to enhance NATO capabilities, including the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea (CJOS), in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.
Danish Army Brigadier General Henrik Sommer, Assistant Chief of Staff, Capability Engineering and Innovation Autonomous Systems, maintained that autonomous unmanned systems should lead to disruptive changes in the way forces operate, not only in dull, dirty and dangerous missions, such as countermine operations, but as in a system-of-systems approach.
Brig. Gen. Sommer underscored the need for continued discussion concerning ethical and policy issues as to the question of the human-in-the-loop in unmanned systems missions.
The general urged improvements in anti-submarine warfare in enhanced sensors and communications and for Alliance members to pool and share resources. “We must remove the technical barriers between forces,” Sommer said.
Netherlands Air Force Maj. Gen. Mels De Zeeuw, Assistant Chief of Staff for Command and Control, Deployment and Stability, stated cybersecurity is one of the top threats facing nations today. While the main task of nations is defending their own cyber systems, he said, NATO has made clear that cyber-attacks can potentially trigger an Article 5 response.
NATO Article 5 is the principle of collective defense; it commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state to be an armed attack against them all.
Attribution remains difficult when cyber-attacks occur so De Zeeuw emphasized cooperation with industry as key to finding feasible technical solutions.
In addition to the Centers of Excellence, there are many venues for industry to work with NATO.
ACT has an ongoing partnership with industry to advance cyber innovation through exercises, De Zeeuw explained. These include: TIDE Sprints, Framework For Collaboration with Industry (FFCI) Projects, Cyber Coalition Exercise, Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise (CWIX), and Future Cyber Innovation Projects.
Latvian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Dzintars Roga, Assistant Chief of Staff, Joint Education, Training and Exercise, reiterated the importance of industry participation in major NATO exercises which allows companies to gain insights into NATO's future requirements through an initiative called I3X, Industry Involvement Into eXercises, based on the Framework For Collaboration with Industry which includes collaboration with academia.
Engaging with academia and industry as early as possible reduces risk and increases cost-effectiveness in development efforts.
The Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) is a strategy that the Allies agreed to in 2012 at the NATO Summit (Chicago) which set the goal of NATO Forces 2020. CFI is essential to ensure forces are fully prepared for any mission, interoperable, and sustainable, Brig. Gen. Roga explained.
NATO ACT also hosts an Innovation Hub website
(http://www.act.nato.int/innovationhub) where experts can collaborate and design solutions for meeting NATO challenges. By bringing together people with different backgrounds or perspectives, the Innovation Hub generates a better understanding of the issues and fosters innovation.
To learn more about NATO ACT business opportunities and upcoming industry forums, please visit http://www.act.nato.int/.