Smart Defence - in action
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This month in
NATO Review
Smart Defence - in action
There's been a lot of talk about Smart Defence. Talk about how it is needed to plug gaps, save money and adapt to the economic crisis. This edition of NATO Review aims to go beyond the talk - and show some action. Smart Defence in action - the savings it makes, the collaboration it brings and the mindsets it tackles - may be the best advert for more of the same.
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Despite often being expensive, high maintenance and tricky to operate, armed forces know they need helicopters. Whether it’s getting troops in, or the wounded out, helicopters are often the ‘go to’ choice. NATO Review looks at nations’ ongoing need for helicopters – and how they’re making it easier to use them together.
A huge array of equipment that has flowed into Afghanistan over more than a decade must now leave in more or less 12 months. This means calling in some specialist kit to get the job done, including massive air transport planes. NATO Review looks at how several countries have worked together to share this kit, saving money and time.
NATO is redeploying vast amounts of equipment from Afghanistan, some of it by air. This infographic shows how some countries have used the Ruslan plane to help - and why it is so important.
What's the next activity we can expect from Smart Defence? What difference will real projects make? Here we outline eight projects which are coming online soon and highlight the potential benefits.
How much has Smart Defence been embraced by the men who oversee national armed forces? NATO Review asks two Defence Ministers how they are specialising as part of Smart Defence - and how they see the project.
Getting fuel to and from the right places during operations is one of the areas where NATO has a Smart Defence project. Nathalie Tocabens looks at how the French general staff have taken this project forward.
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It is slightly bizarre that in this digital age of sharing almost everything, one of Western countries' main defence problems is the inability to share more. There's not a hit video, song, even picture which doesn't owe some element of its success to people sharing it. Facebook and Twitter - companies who didn't exist at the beginning of the decade - can pin their dizzying success directly to people's desire to share.

But as soon as the sharing is between countries and armed forces, this desire tails off. The reasons are well known.

It is slightly bizarre that in this digital age of sharing almost everything, one of Western countries' main defence problems is the inability to share more. There's not a hit video, song, even picture which doesn't owe some element of its success to people sharing it. Facebook and Twitter - companies who didn't exist at the beginning of the decade - can pin their dizzying success directly to people's desire to share.

But as soon as the sharing is between countries and armed forces, this desire tails off. The reasons are well known. Some of the equipment that many want sharing is expensive. Not everyone wants to be dependent on another country for their capabilities - especially if they can't be sure the other country will agree to its use in specific operations. And it's difficult to get through a conversation about Smart Defence without the 'S' word being mentioned - sovereignty. After all, what is a government or armed force who can't guarantee its own country's sovereignty?

But increasingly, these are arguments which are being challenged. Some countries are actively asking - why are two (or more) small neighbouring countries all spending the same elevated sums on the same equipment which may not even be needed? Why are friendly countries not sharing tasks like air policing, that poses no threat and indeed better regional collaboration?

It is these arguments - as the lack of budget and therefore lack of choice hits home - that are becoming more pervasive. And in this edition of NATO Review, we highlight a couple of examples of where money has already been saved.

Could this be the time where Smart Defence goes from 'Share' to 'Like'?

Paul King

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