Nr 4-5 2009

On Urgent Operational Requirements

Additional strain has recently been put on defense budgets, not only due to the ongoing recession, but also due to the cost associated with ongoing missions, particularly the one in Afghanistan.  It seems that participating countries have systematically underestimated the financial burden of these activities. In several of the countries involved, money is now being shifted from long-term acquisition and R&T programs in order to fund short-term needs for the fielded forces. There is a clear risk that future strategic equipment programs will be significantly delayed, or cancelled.

Another consequence of the ongoing missions is the requirement for immediate or very quick delivery of additional equipment to the forces in a mission. This is known as Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR), and is handled differently by different countries. Some resort to completely different procurement procedures, others refer to national security concerns in order to circumvent laws on public procurement that stipulate competition. The traditional acquisition processes are generally considered to be too cumbersome and time-consuming for UOR. The focus on UOR is a strong call for us to review, simplify and speed up the acquisition processes normally used.

On the European level, UOR may, if not handled properly, lead to less collaboration and less interest from countries to pool resources and funding, since each individual country´s attention will be primarily on its own fielded forces, and their needs. A study by the European Defense Agency on its member states’ lessons learned from UOR would be appropriate.

Gunnar Hult
Chairman, Swedish Military Technology Association