Smart defence is a concept that encourages Allies to cooperate in developing, acquiring and maintaining military capabilities to meet current security problems in accordance with the new NATO strategic concept. Therefore, NATO smart defence means pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities and coordinating efforts better.
Some of the factors driving the need for a smart defence NATO capability include the state of the global economy and recent events in the Middle East. From 2008 the world economy has been facing its worst period since the end of the Second World War. Governments are applying budgetary restrictions to tackle this serious recession, which is having a considerable effect on defence spending.
Furthermore, the crisis in Libya underlined the unforeseeable nature of conflicts, and also showed the need for modern systems and facilities and for less reliance on the United States for costly advanced capabilities.
In these crisis times, rebalancing defence spending between the European nations and the United States is more than ever a necessity. The other Allies must reduce the gap with the United States by equipping themselves with capabilities that are deemed to be critical, deployable and sustainable, and must demonstrate political determination to achieve that goal. There must be equitable sharing of the defence burden. Smart defence is NATO's response to this.
The Chicago Summit will be a first but essential step in implementing this smart defence concept, with possible agreement between the Allies on a series of concrete multinational projects to develop the smart defence NATO capability. This will require a joint commitment to a new approach and a new mindset as regards the acquisition and maintenance of NATO smart defence capabilities in the long term.