Nr 6 2009

On Strategies

Major decisions on defense acquisition programs should not be the exclusive privilege of the Department of  Defense, but typically also will have to involve areas which are the responsibility of other departments: trade and industry, science and research, employment, foreign relations and last, but not least, finance. A program for a contemporary weapons platform is simply too complex, too expensive, and with too far-reaching consequences for other parts of society, to be remitted to a single governmental entity.

Consequently, various strategies, jointly agreed between the departments concerned, are required in order to guide the actions of government whenever major defense acquisition issues are to be decided upon. In many countries, these strategies involve both technological and industrial aspects, and are referred to as Defense Technology Strategies and Defense Industrial Strategies. As for many other aspects of defense planning, the UK has been in the forefront also here. Amazingly, and fortunately, the UK strategies are unclassified documents whose main contents can be accessed over the Internet.

As one theme to be promoted during its presidency of the EU, Sweden has chosen the concept of the Level Playing Field: transparency, harmonization, and equal terms for companies to compete across Europe. Most, if not all countries will always act with at least parts of a defense industrial strategy in mind whenever major decisions on defense acquisition are made. The concept of the Level Playing Field would benefit immensely if more countries would formally adopt a defense industrial/technology strategy, and make its contents known to its European neighbors.

Gunnar Hult
Chairman, Swedish Military Technology Association