Afcea joint Warfighting Conference 2013 Keynote Speech

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AFCEA Joint Warfighting Conference 2013 Keynote Speech

DSACT Gen Mieczysław Bieniek Ph.D.

15 May 2013 08:30-09:30


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour and privilege to share Supreme Allied Command Transformation’s perspective on the role of innovation in this era of austerity and the capabilities needed to operate in a non-permissive environment.

As NATO’s command responsible for leading military transformation, we strive to identify ways to develop and implement innovative capabilities, so the main theme of the conference is very much in line with our work.

Forums like the Joint Warfighting Conference are extremely important and valuable to the work of NATO and ACT in particular, so I want thank our hosts, AFCEA and the US Naval Institute for inviting us to participate.

Both these institutions play a significant role in developing new ideas and crossing new frontiers in the security domain. And the fact that we are discussing technological innovation here in Hampton Roads - a community that serves the largest group of military decision-makers in America outside of the Pentagon and home to the world’s largest navy base - is no coincidence either. It is a perfect location to discuss the future of innovation in an era of austerity. Thank you for hosting us today.

Perhaps the most daunting challenge facing NATO members and partners as we continue to navigate uncertain time is to find the best possible answer to the question of “how do we continue to advance our capabilities to meet the needs of an increasingly complex security environment while at the same time cutting back our defence budgets?”

Our societies expect the same level of security and safety but these expectations must compete with other, equally important and legitimate priorities. And the structures, forces, and capabilities that served us well in the past may not be able to do so in the future. This is a challenge that can, and must, be overcome and today, I would like to outline ACT’s view on what must be done.

First, let me stress the importance of partnerships.

The Alliance must increase its means to cooperate with forces of other nations, partners from around the globe, wherever and whenever needed.

We must forge the future of partnerships so that we are best positioned to defend our principles and interests against threats that, in many ways, will bear little OR NO resemblance to those that have occurred in the past.

Partners need to become ‘pathfinders’ for the Alliance, not only as supporters during operations but – perhaps even more importantly - as sources of expertise in a variety of fields, including regions and functions that seem well outside areas of NATO’s traditional role. We must all recognize that only by working together we can we develop capabilities that allow NATO and our partners to move forward.

Emergent threats over the past couple of years demonstrate the changes in character of conflict: piracy, cyber-attacks, social-media driven revolution, and instability born from humanitarian disasters. We must formulate the combination of purpose and capability needed to strengthen the trans-Atlantic community accordingly.

To achieve this, the Alliance needs to redefine ‘partners’ to be more inclusive. No single actor has the capacity or capability to solve global problems unilaterally. NATO is a critical node in the international system and it must develop the means to partner with other actors, like the UN, EU, or any other actor, private, public, or international—state, non-state, social crowd, or individual—with which the Alliance cooperates to achieve mutual benefits based on shared risk and gain.

If I were to sum up in one word what partnerships need, it is ‘flexibility:’ flexibility in latitude to cooperate with actors throughout the international system, flexibility in the types of actors with whom we will cooperate, flexibility in the capabilities we develop to ensure that we can work together on issues of common cause, and flexibility in NATO’s organisation and culture to embrace the centrality of partnership in our core business.

Second overarching area of ACT’s work is support for operations.

For over sixty years, NATO has successfully delivered security and stability to the Alliance and many partner nations. For Allies, this has been an astute security investment. At its core lies a unique capacity for Allies to work together. This is what makes the Alliance more than the sum of its individual members. That’s why we need to continue investing in it – now more than ever.

As I already mentioned, the fiscal austerity and defence budget cuts will affect NATO in the coming years. We need to respond to these changes so that, by the end of this decade and into the next, we emerge stronger as an Alliance, not weaker. A key part of our response is what we call Smart Defence - a new way for NATO and Allies to do business. To give it a simple definition: it is about doing more by doing it together.

With defence cuts on both sides of the Atlantic, we need to look at new ways to ensure that Europeans and North Americans can continue to act together - in the most dangerous and demanding of situations. Thus, we recognised the need for an initiative to complement Smart Defence and to mobilise all of NATO’s resources so our abilities to work together are increasingly interconnected. We call this “the Connected Forces Initiative”.

The Connected Forces Initiative, or CFI, touches upon everything that we do, and will be used to measure the Alliance's ability to adapt to the new environment in 2014 and beyond. Ultimately, it will help to ensure that the Alliance remains prepared to undertake the full range of its missions and address future challenges. ACT's top CFI priority will be to develop an Implementation Plan in close co-operation with SACEUR and which will be comprised of four main elements.

- First, focusing on the development of the human as well as the technical dimension of interoperability, ACT has developed a new training concept for 2015-2020 which promotes a more integrated, coherent and global approach across the Alliance, and ultimately bolsters interoperability and readiness. This programme should guide NATO’s action in the implementation of CFI. It proposes a multilevel, joint programme of exercises, executed under ACT’s authority, over a three-year cycle. The synchronisation of NATO exercises with those of nations, Partners, and other organisations will maximise their effect and efficiency.

- Second, in the short term, we are planning a ‘high visibility’ NATO Response Force live exercise in 2015, that uses additional national units and HQs, demonstrating the development of the NRF as well as a new way of incorporating the nations’ ongoing training, with that of the Alliance. A reinvigorated NATO Response Force represents a key element necessary to maintain the interoperability and readiness of the NATO Command Structure and Forces.

- Third, we will develop a plan to conduct additional annual high-intensity live exercises from 2016 onwards, which will help to maintain our interoperability as we transition from over ten years of combat operations, to the training and preparation required to be ready for a range of contingency operations. These exercises should be computer-assisted, and involve command and control structures, as well as live large-scale Forces. The aim is that these exercises provide a force-multiplying effect in allowing us to achieve significant training value collectively, and an effect which is beyond that which Allies may achieve alone.

- Finally, fully understanding the resource-constrained fiscal environment in which we find ourselves, ACT will be keeping close track of the resource implications of CFI as we proceed with our development of the CFI implementation plan.

I also have three points that I would like to make regarding Smart Defence and the broader narrative on our capability efforts.

Let me start by reminding you about Allies’ advice regarding “Building Capability through Multinational and Innovative Approaches.” This was the first step of the Smart Defence initiative in 2011, which focused our co-operation efforts on “delivering the needed capabilities as outlined in the NATO Defence Planning Process or NDPP.”

Following the Joint Consultations, our staff identified emerging shortfalls due to unfilled or partially-filled capability targets. But, more importantly, they have taken a ‘second look’ at other ways to fill the targets – specifically with new multinational ideas. The intent is to develop realistic proposals from these ideas, and offer them to Allies for consideration as a voluntary way to reconsider their positions, and ultimately work together towards filling those targets.

Smart Defence is the goal of NATO Forces 2020. NATO Forces 2020 is the Alliance’s capability focal point, and thus our ‘ends’, around which we can focus our combined efforts. What needs to be well understood is that Smart Defence and CFI are amongst the ‘ways’ to help Allies work together better, so that we can all get there in the most efficient and effective manner.

Last, but not least of ACT’s areas of work is transformation - preparing Alliance for future threats, challenges and opportunities.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: "We all need to take great interest in the future because we will spend the rest of our life there."

The unique task of ACT is to lead NATO’s military transformation. As we assessed our ability to accomplish this task, we defined the long-term military transformation challenge in terms of three questions: what, why, and how. To conduct effective, continuous and long-term military transformation NATO requires an integrated and strategically linked concept framework that builds upon and complements the NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP). Its aim is to prepare the Alliance to operate successfully in the long-term by addressing the full range of security challenges, to advance a conceptual framework for forces and capabilities required to succeed in future operations. We do this through continuous Strategic Foresight Analysis (SFA), allowing us to have a common understanding of the long-term future and a Framework for Future Alliance Operations (FFAO).

Future military readiness in a complex and constantly evolving security environment demands we extend our planning horizon beyond the current mid-term 2020 focus. We must anticipate a different future and collectively have a common understanding of the future security environment, its military implications and the resulting broad strategic operating insights and implications. NATO developed an initial SFA thru discovery and discussion oriented on 2030 through four workshops, analysis of scores of published futures studies, and analysis of the future security and operating environments. We found significant commonality amongst these published works and our draft SFA reflects this sharing of perspectives to achieve common understanding.

Our effort has reflected the best of the Alliance: active collaboration, vigorous debate, and complete transparency. This engagement exploits our Alliance’s unique advantage: commitment, common purpose and the strength through the diversity of 28 member Nations. We create opportunity through this common understanding that builds on our strength. The second step of the long-term military transformation process is the FFAO, an effort that begins with an analysis of the SFA security implications aligned and prioritized against the core tasks and the Capability Hierarchy Framework (CHF).

The FFAO will develop a future organizing concept: the broad method and rubric under which we describe the foundation for future operations. We will base this organizing concept on the core tasks. Our long-term military transformation concept work feeds back and links to the Strategic Concept as well as the NDPP to ensure continuity with our Alliance mission, vision, and purpose.

Given a future security environment, a specified force and defined core tasks, our Future Security Model will describe how the Alliance plans to transform to meet the threats, challenges, and opportunities of the year 2030 timeframe. In short: the Future Security Model helps us determine what Alliance forces must be able to do to be successful in the long-term future.

The core of Alliance activity that intertwines and combines all three areas of our work is innovation. Whether it is a new attitude towards partnerships, new capabilities or new solutions in the field of interoperability, they all have innovation as the key driver and enabler.

Many talk about innovation. Few actually innovate! There is no doubt that the growing focus on innovation directly correlates to the state of our economies. It is greater during major economic troubles, especially after leaders in government and industry have exhausted traditional efficiency measures. One complementary and non-intuitive measure consists of challenging the natural order of things by offering innovative approaches and solutions. Often it can call for a radical paradigm shift, shake certainties and disrupt equilibriums in unsettling manners. We typically do not like that in the military. But we all love hearing stories of nearly bankrupt companies eventually becoming leaders in their sector. Interestingly, most of those companies have taken radical management measures but importantly have put innovation as their number one priority. And their leaders have embraced and lead the strategy themselves. I believe that everyone in the defence sector confronted with a combination of negative drivers such as a budgetary winter and the concomitant massive retirement of materiel have consciously or unconsciously integrated the fact that the status quo is no longer an option and that profound changes through innovative approaches will have to happen, both in the defence industry and within NATO.

For instance, I believe that emerging technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity to play a significant role by proposing capability solutions to our armed forces that potentially can improve performance, reduce risk and/or offer significant savings. The demand from Nations is strong as evidenced by the guidance from the Chicago NATO Summit to aggressively pursue Smart Defence and the Connected Forces Initiative. We must also respond to this call through innovative ideas. Think for example about autonomous platforms to operate in the air, land and maritime domain. This is a true innovation that is already challenging the way we operate in theatre with significant opportunity for savings. And what about the potential of leveraging the immersive environment and gaming to provide for more realistic training, or taking advantage of big data for JISR, speech-to-speech translation to support the comprehensive approach, or using social media tools to enhance Command and Control. The list of possibilities is endless…

Looking at our respective organisations, the necessary conditions to stimulate innovation in an organization have been identified by numerous specialists. The way to apply them in an organization comparable to ACT has also been studied. In short, the most practical approach that we have chosen at Allied Command Transformation consists in generating an environment where many experts better connect and work together. For a given problem area such as a subset of a NATO shortfall these experts are now be able to operate outside institutional constraints and use practical means such as collaborative platforms to rapidly create the most favourable conditions and productive knowledge community. We are currently implementing this approach through a collaborative platform call the ACT Innovation Hub (you can join it via our website where the brainstorming is about “How NATO should use social media?”). So far, since it launching 4 weeks ago, the innovation hub is a great success with more than 250 participants representing all aspects of academia and industry and already providing several very innovative ideas.

Henry Ford is often quoted for having said the following: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Sadly, we often strive to produce expensive and complicated faster horses in our own domain instead of looking at the problems differently. Do we always absolutely need more sophisticated material? Are the fighter jets, tanks and submarines currently in development our new “faster horses”? We all (and I include myself) like to sit in our comfort zone and take what we know as absolute and unchangeable. I would however argue that innovation and its subsequent benefits occur when we challenge our certainties. This is unpleasant but absolutely necessary. I would encourage everyone to do it by means of the following three steps: observe, network and experiment. Innovation is often a matter of associating ideas, talking about them, trying them and sometimes failing miserably. It is rarely an isolated “eureka” moment. We often do not see the impact that a revolution in other domains can have on ours. Robotics, modelling & simulation, biotechnologies, social networking or human sciences, to name a few, are changing our societies. We accept them in other areas of our life but close our eyes as soon as we reflect within our professional domain. As we do not operate in a vacuum, breakthrough in the civilian sector will obviously shape our defence capabilities as well. Let’s open our eyes!

Regarding our innovation initiatives, I am confident that our Innovation Hub will greatly foster the innovation spirit within ACT and within NATO to a larger extent but let me add this. I would particularly like to mention the important role of leadership. It is an essential requirement, if not THE Most essential requirement. The most innovative organisations have innovation “evangelists” at the top. They are key in setting the right mindset for innovation to happen. Contrary to the academic world where ideas are equally worthy whether they come from the professors or from the students, our military structure is not the most favourable environment to nurture innovation. This is why our chain of command has a pivotal role by being fully involved in this process. And I must say that this is happening at ACT.

None of this would not have been possible if we did not employ a proper, transformational mindset. A mindset, comprised of our values, beliefs, assumptions and attitudes the “lens” that interprets the facts that are coming from the environment (the world we live in). It is the inner place or orientation from which we experience our reality and form our perceptions of that reality.

Thus, the critical question we need to properly answer is: how do we develop the right mindset for the future?

Along with candid discussion on making tough decisions between incremental and radical change we should also think about transformational type of change that, along with content change, comprise the change of the mindset.

The strategic (political-military) level is the level that allows us to understand “the big picture”. We live in an age in which we are increasingly interconnected, interdependent and pressed for time. Survival and sustainability in this new age requires above all else agility. Military planners cannot adequately predict the exact nature of 21st century missions. However, there is one certainty. Those missions are more likely to involve challenging endeavours characterized by complexity in the environment and the effects space, and the uncertainty inherent in the collective nature of the set of entities needed to respond. ACT is fully engaged in that regard with its Future Work programme.

In terms of organization it is important to be co-creative. Co-creating means working together across boundaries, be it functional, regional, or organizational, and all levels of systems to produce Win-win-win outcomes. One of the examples is NATO’s and ACT’s, attempt to develop and promote the Comprehensive Approach concept.

Ideally, being able to see and promote “the Big Win” which transcends interpersonal, team, organisational, societal, and even global relationships, is our main goal and focus. It will certainly help to ensure stability and cooperation. NATO`s cooperative security is an attempt to achieve a Big-Win in terms of security.

As you can see, the ACT is very busy preparing the Alliance for the future and the Joint Warfighting Conference is a very useful forum to further enhance our knowledge and readiness. I look forward to its outcomes.

Thank you very much.

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