I - 076
Topic Area 1: Concepts, Theory and Policy
Transformation of European Defense Cooperation: A Complex Endeavor
Reiner K. Huber
Institute for Technology of Intelligent Systems (ITIS)
Universität der Bundeswehr
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
David S. Alberts
Institute for Defense Analyses
Alexandria, VA, USA
David S. Alberts
Transformation of European Defense Cooperation: A Complex Endeavor
The United States (US) “pivot to the Asia-Pacific region”, will force the European allies to
become serious about addressing the longstanding transatlantic gap in the military
capabilities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the extent that they will be
able to collectively take care of conflicts and threats in their backyard without decisive US
support. In the long term, this requires nothing less than a far reaching transformation of
defense cooperation in Europe. Currently such cooperation is limited to the occasional
pooling and sharing of national military assets. As a conceptual framework for this necessary
transformation we propose to adopt the NATO Network-Enabled Command and Control (C2)
Maturity Model (N2C2M2). Developed and validated over the past decade by a group of
international researchers, this model describes a concept for improving C2 of complex
military operations and the management of complex endeavors characterized by the
participation of a large number and variety of military and non-military actors. There is
significant historic evidence that improving defense cooperation in Europe is a highly
complex endeavor in need of more appropriate management approaches.
The US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region (Donilon, 2011; Manyin et al., 2012) will force the
European allies to become serious about addressing the longstanding problem of the
transatlantic gap in NATO’s military capabilities to the extent that they will become able to
collectively take care of crises and threats in their backyard without decisive US support.
While only of marginal interest to the United States (Friedman, 2012), conflicts such as
recently in Libya and Mali and currently in Syria, South Sudan, and Central Africa as well as
terrorist operations of various Al-Qaeda groups emerging, across North Africa from the
Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, represent potential threats that require Europe’s urgent
attention (Münkler, 2002 and 2006; Smith, 2006).
In the 1990s, studies had shown that the transatlantic gap in NATO’s conventional military
capabilities could have been reduced significantly if the European members of the alliance
had coordinated their national defense planning and integrated their military capabilities.
This would have eliminated wasteful redundancies and improved the efficiency of the
European pillar’s collective defense spending to a level comparable to that of the United
States (Huber and Schmidt, 1999; Huber, 2003). However, at that time the idea of
“Convergent Defense Planning”
was dismissed as unrealistic by both political and military
elites in NATO-Europe because the respective studies did not account for differences in
national interests and strategic cultures that limited comprehensive defense cooperation
among European allies. In the ensuring years, it seems that the situation has changed. The
lessons learned from the Balkans and Afghanistan with regard to interoperability, and the
cuts in Europeans’ defense spending in the wake of the financial crisis and the associated
reductions of national military capabilities have prompted some rethinking (Marone, 2012;
O’Donnell, 2012). It now seems that the need for improving defense cooperation is generally
acknowledged in NATO and the European Union (EU). However, initiatives and agreements
to that end fall short of achieving a comprehensive and coherent coordination of defense
planning among allies. On the contrary, item 7 of the press release of May 20, 2012 on
NATO’s Chicago Summit Declaration points out: “The development and deployment of
defence capabilities is first and foremost a national responsibility” (NATO, 2012). Thus, we
propose to revisit the ideas of convergent defense planning and suggest a new way of
thinking about Europe’s approach to cooperation.
The model of cooperation we propose to adopt for this purpose is based on the N2C2M2.
Developed under the aegis of the Systems and Studies (SAS) Panel of the NATO-Science and
Technology Organizations (STO) by a multinational research task group (SAS-065), this model
provides a conceptual framework that facilitates understanding and discussion of a range of
increasingly network-enabled C2 approaches. Such approaches are required if NATO forces
are to achieve the network-enabled operational capability levels defined in the NEC
These new, more network-enabled approaches are needed to provide the
agility required for the management of complex civil-military endeavors. Complex Endeavors
are characterized by multinational coalitions consisting of numerous and diverse military and
non-military organizations and entities operating in complex and dynamic environments.
We assert that the empirically tested N2CM2 is the appropriate conceptual framework for
thinking about requirements for, and approaches to, improving European defense
cooperation. This is certainly a complex endeavor when considering the number and
The term „Convergent Defense Planning” coined by Huber implied that, while spending a fair share of their
national resources on defense, all NATO countries agreed on common principles for the coordinated evolution,
or co-evolution, of their national military forces in order to enable the Alliance meeting, in an efficient manner,
the challenges that may emerge in the uncertain post-Cold War security environment.
At their meeting in November 2002, in the weeks prior to the Prague Summit, the NATO C3 Board (NC3B)
agreed that there was a need to develop a NATO concept to adapt national initiatives such as the U.S. Network -
Centric Warfare (NCW) and the U.K. Network-Enabled Capability (NEC) to the NATO context. This NATO
concept is referred to as the “NATO Network Enabled Capability” (NNEC). In 2003, nine NATO nations launched
a 2-year feasibility study on Network Enabled Capability (NC3A, 2005).
The term “Complex Endeavors” refers to undertakings characterized by multiple interdependent ‘chains of
command’ and the number and diversity of the participants (entities) whose goals may conflict with one
another and whose perceptions of the situation may differ in important ways. Furthermore, the effects space
(situations) spans multiple domains (Physical, Information, Cognitive and Social) and there is a poor
understanding of networked cause-and-effect relationships and difficulty in predicting effects that are likely to
arise from alternative courses of action. These characteristics reflect six principal features of Complex Adaptive
Systems and their relationship to Information Age Warfare as described in (Moffat, 2003).
diversity of political, military and industrial stakeholders involved in nearly all of the
European countries on the one hand, and the complexities, dynamics and uncertainties of
the 21st century’s security environment on the other.
The NATO NEC C2 Maturity Model
Complex endeavors are characterized by a set of diverse entities that are connected, or
networked, and thus principally capable of collectively generating coherent effects and
improved mission effectiveness by bringing to bear their collective capabilities and
resources. The basic mechanism for taking advantage of their collective capabilities and
resources is embodied in the network-centric operations value chain that encompasses the
following four domains, as illustrated in Figure 1:
The physical domain where effects take place;
The information domain where information is created, processed and shared;
The cognitive domain where beliefs, values, perceptions, awareness and
understanding reside and where, as a result of sense making, decisions are made;
The social domain where entities interact by sharing resources, awareness and
Figure 1: Network-Centric Operations Value Chain (Alberts and Hayes, 2003)
Mission effectiveness in the physical domain depends directly on the quality of and the
degree to which the activities in the information, cognitive, and social domains unfold, given
the constraints of the C2 approaches practiced by the participating entities (Alberts and
C2 Approaches and the C2 Approach Space
Consistent with the NEC Feasibility Study’s five levels of operational capability and their
objectives, the N2C2M2 has grouped the set of corresponding C2 Approaches into five
each characterized by three variables:
1) The degree to which decision rights are allocated or delegated by entities to the
2) The patterns of interactions among entities; and,
3) The degree to which information is distributed among entities.
The regions of the three dimensional Approach Space within which these five classes of C2
Approaches are located are shown in Figure 2. They lie sequentially along the diagonal
vector of this C2 Approach space, with Conflicted C2 at the origin and Edge C2 in the upper
right hand corner. These axes are not independent of each other. In fact as an entity moves
along the vector of C2 approaches, its approach to C2 becomes more network-enabled and
the domain focus changes (NATO, 2010). This implies, for example, that as one moves up the
left hand side of Figure 2, the frequency of interactions between and among entities
increases and thus their focus shifts from the Information domain (from sparse to rich
exchange of information) to the Cognitive domain (toward higher degrees of situational
awareness) and to the Social domain (toward higher degrees of shared awareness and
understanding and increased sharing of resources).
The regions occupied by each of the C2 Approaches are summarized in Figure 3 in terms of
the values of the three defining variables listed across the top. The gaps between Conflicted
and De-conflicted C2, and between Collaborative and Edge C2, indicate that there is a
qualitative difference between them with regard to the allocation of decision rights to the
In ascending order of capability, the five levels of NATO operational capability (and corresponding C2
approaches) are 1) Disjointed Operations (Conflicted C2); 2) De-conflicted Operations (De-conflicted C2); 3)
Coordinated Operations (Coordinated C2); 4) Integrated Operations (Collaborative C2); 5) Transformed
Operations (Edge C2).
In large part, information distribution determines the respective Entity Information Positions in terms of their
relevance, timeliness, and accuracy of information vis-à-vis an adversary. For a detailed explanation of the term
Information Position see Alberts et al. (1999), p.56.
Figure 2: C2 Approaches and the C2 Approach Space (NATO, 2010)
In the case of Conflicted C2, there is no interaction among participating entities and no
delegation of decision rights at all from individual entities to the Collective. The entities
operate in a stand-alone mode, making decisions and developing plans based on their
organic information only. Thus, in practical terms there is no Collective. For the other
extreme of Edge C2, an emergent, tailored and dynamic process of allocation of decision
rights is expected, as opposed to the more well-defined planning and decision processes
seen in De-conflicted, Coordinated, and Collaborative C2. The dashed lines between the
latter indicates that the exact boundaries between them are difficult to define precisely, and
the two-headed arrows signify that the transition between them can be effected by
changing constraints regarding patterns of interaction and distribution of information.
Figure 3: Variables defining collective C2 Approach (NATO, 2010)
In addition to these three characteristic variables, there are a number of other entity
properties enabled by the characteristics of a C2 approach that can be used to distinguish
among them. These include the degree of shared awareness
and the degree of task-based
organization across the Collective, both of which increase as C2 approaches become more
C2 Maturity and C2 Agility
The Network-Centric Maturity Model proposed by Alberts, et al. (1999) was about entities
becoming more network-centric with the term “C2 maturity” reflecting the ability of C2
approaches to develop more shared awareness and then ultimately to exhibit increasing
ability to manifest self-synchronizing behaviors. Based on the insights from validation case
studies and experiments conducted by SAS-065, it was apparent that the terms “more net-
worked enabled” and “more mature” were being used synonymously. Therefore, the
members of SAS-065 reserved the use of the term C2 Maturity to describe the capability of
an entity to move around in the C2 Approach space in an appropriate manner. Thus, C2
Maturity includes the ability of a C2 or management system to recognize the
The degree of shared awareness across the Collective is – together with the degree of shared understanding
and the adaptability of the Collective C2 process – a measure of C2 effectiveness.
appropriateness of different C2 approaches, and the ability to transition between them.
a consequence, NATO SAS-065 introduced the ‘toolkit’ analogy that views each C2 ‘maturity
level’ having a toolkit at its disposal consisting of a number of C2 approaches , as shown in
Figure 4, and, of equal importance, the ability to transit between the available approaches
where and when necessary as the conflict unfolds.
For example, C2 maturity level 5 (including Edge C2) has all four non-conflicted approaches
in its toolkit and C2 agility requires the ability to match one of these to the military task at
hand. Thus, having the requisite classes of C2 approach in an entity’s or Collective’s C2
system toolkit is necessary but not sufficient in order to respond in a timely manner or to
exploit situational change involving one’s own coalition (self), the mission and/or the
environment. To this end, entities or the collective must also able to recognize which of the
C2 approaches in their toolkit is appropriate to cope with changes as they are recognized,
emerging, or anticipated, and they must have the ability to transition to the appropriate
Figure 4: C2 Maturity Levels and C2 Agility (NATO, 2010)
Based on a comparison of the results of two case studies of natural disaster relief endeavors (Elbe Flood of
2002 in the eastern part of Germany and the Tsunami 2004 in Aceh), it was concluded that whether or not a
given C2 approach is sufficient or appropriate to handle a situation depends on the situational complexity and
the dynamics of the operational environment. Thus the terms requisite maturity and requisite agility were
proposed to describe the capability of a C2 or management system to transit between “appropriate” C2
approaches in dynamic operational environments characterized by more or less frequent changes of situation
(Huber et al, 2008).
Evidence from case studies implies that deep shared situational understanding is required in
order to anticipate complex and rapid situational changes that may otherwise overwhelm a
Collective’s operational capabilities unless counteracted.
As illustrated by the arrow on the left in Figure 4, SAS-065 hypothesized that as an entity
possesses a more mature C2 capability, it will become more agile. This hypothesis has been
validated (through of a series of case studies and experiments) by the follow on activities of
NATO STO-SAS-085, which defined agility as the capability to successfully effect, cope with,
and/or exploit changes in circumstances.
Successfully is defined as operating within acceptable bounds. Change in Circumstances
includes changes to the state of entities and the environment in the physical domain as well
as in the Information, Cognitive and Social domains, changes of mission and strategy, and
objectives within them. Effect implies being proactive and therefore able to bring about a
timely change in circumstances in order to improve performance, effectiveness and
efficiency. Cope with implies dealing with a change in circumstances that, if not
appropriately addressed, would adversely affect performance (effectiveness and efficiency).
Exploit implies capitalizing on an opportunity to take advantage of changed circumstances
that, if not seized, would result in an opportunity loss (a failure to improve performance –
effectiveness or efficiency or both).
Agility is dependent on six interdependent variables (enablers) as defined by SAS-065 (NATO,
2010) that entities seek to control to realize the amount of Agility they desire:
The enablers of Agility are part of an “Agility Value Chain” as illustrated in Figure 5
(NATO,2014) which depicts Agility to be a function of both Self and the challenges associated
with the mission and the environment.
Thus, Agility is a function of its enablers which, in turn, are determined by the quality of
information and the behaviors that result from the characteristics of Self and the nature of
the Endeavour Space. From Figure 5 one can see that the Agility Value Chain is not a simple
‘string’ of links, but is in reality a mesh or network of interdependent variables.
This definition provided the basis for the exploration of the concept of Agility as it applies to the C2 of military
forces in the context of Complex Endeavors, that ultimately resulted in SAS-085’s conceptual model of Agility
Figure 5: The C2 Agility Value Chain (NATO, 2014)
The insights provided by the validation case studies and the results of the experiments
conducted by SAS-085 suggest that C2 Agility, i.e., the ability to adapt C2 and management
approaches in a timely way to changes in the operational environment, will become an ever
more critical capability given the uncertainty associated with the increasing complexity and
dynamics of the 21st century’s strategic environment.
The case studies analyzed well documented endeavors in the areas of Peacekeeping (Ruanda 1994), Cyberwar
(Estonia 2007 and Georgia 2008), Disaster Management (Earthquakes In Garda 2004 and Haiti 2010),
Terrorism (Olympic Games in Munich 1972 and Vancouver 2010) and Counter Insurgency (Helmand-
Afghanistan, 2010/11). The experiments were conducted using several simulation platforms available in
Canada, Italy, Portugal, UK and USA to investigate variations of independent variables on C2 agility in different
The records of historical interventions support the hypothesis that chances for controlling and ending intra -
national or trans-national crises and armed conflicts improve with the effectiveness and responsiveness of
interventions. Quick and determined action is necessary in order to avoid or contain the escalation of armed
conflicts. This is because the higher the level of mutual violence between inimical groups the lower is their
inclination for a peaceful settlement of the conflict (Dudouet, 2006). If a certain level of violence has been
exceeded, the only solution remaining may be peace-enforcement and temporary physical separation of the
antagonists such as in Bosnia-Herzegovina between Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs. Even today – 17 years after the
Dayton Agreement – Bosnia-Herzegovina suffers from the aftermath of the conflict and violent quarrels
between ethnic and religious groups. In other words, in order to quickly stop fighting among the parties to a
conflict, and to support diplomatic efforts for conflict settlement, interventionists require both robust and agile
military capabilities to halt hostilities and an efficient long-term strategy for the regeneration and stabilization
of the conflict region.
Enhancing European Defense Cooperation
Recent history suggests that addressing large scale complex emergencies such as the Indian
Ocean Tsunami, or complex endeavors of the scale of the multinational intervention in
Afghanistan, are an increasing burden on purely national capabilities, and coalitions tend to
be the preferred way of sharing such burdens. This is especially true for European countries
such as the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany and others who are in the process of
constraining defense spending in order to help reduce public debt. In addition, as already
noted, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, will force the European allies to become
serious about addressing the longstanding problem of the transatlantic gap in military
Thus, beyond restructuring national forces and improving the efficiency of national defense
spending, the question is whether and to what degree the respective national programs are
1) efficient in the sense of maximizing synergies between them and avoiding
2) complementary to close potential capability gaps; and,
3) agile enough to permit joint adaptation for meeting newly emerging security
Thus, the question is, can today’s national defense planning approaches practiced
independently by European nations be transformed into more cooperative multilateral
approaches that support a convergent development of national military forces?
Characteristics of a Convergent Approach
A convergent approach would be characterized by deliberate interaction and information
sharing between the defense planning authorities of the European nations similar to what
the N2C2M2 (NATO, 2010) describes for the C2 of military operations and management of
complex civil-military endeavors including their planning.
The ultimate result of this
potential transformation might be to enable the collaborating nations to rapidly put
together a joint ‘Information Age Force’ (of which the NATO Response Force might be an
extant prototype) capable of dealing with the resulting uncertainty and complexity implied
by large scale emergencies.
In analogy to the N2C2M2, we consider improved cooperation
in defense planning and capability development among European countries as the
prerequisite to a convergent development of national militaries toward more effective and
efficient collective defense capabilities. To this end, we take a closer look at the implications
In fact, C2 or management involves continuous adaptation of the initial plans as operations or endeavors
unfold in a dynamic operational environment (Alberts and Hayes, 2007). This is particularly true for defense
planning as changes in the defense and security environment need to be responded to or exploited so that the
capabilities necessary for protecting the security interests of nations or an alliance are maintained.
See Alberts and Hayes (2003) p.97 for a discussion of the desired characteristics of Information Age Forces.
of the five C2 approaches defined by the N2C2M2 as milestones on a journey to network-
enabled C2 that NATO forces require to improve their operational capabilities.
Options for Europe
It should be kept in mind here that in the context of European defense planning the term
Entity refers to national defense planning authorities as opposed to military and civilian units
in the N2C2M2. Similarly, the term Collective refers to the defense planning authorities of
NATO and/or the EU.
Conflicted C2 Approach. This approach refers to disjointed operations when the
entities (nations or national representatives) participating in an endeavor plan and
operate independently, with no interactions, no exchange of information, and
disregard of the collective. This results in the possibility that their individual
outcomes are in conflict with each other thus generating adverse effects. Similarly,
disjointed defense planning, when entities (nations) plan independently disregarding
the collective, involves the risk of wasteful redundancies and non-interoperable and
incompatible capabilities. As a consequence, the effectiveness of collective
operations is degraded and defense spending is inefficient.
De-Conflicted C2 Approach. The objective of de-conflicted operations is to avoid
negative cross-impacts caused by incompatible operational plans and capabilities. It
is characterized by partitioning the problem space. In order for entities to de-conflict
their intents (objectives), plans and actions, they need to be able to recognize
potential conflicts and resolve them by partitioning across function, space, and time.
This results from limited information sharing and limited interactions. It requires that
entities accept some operational constraints and thus transfer, to the collective,
those decision rights that are necessary to ensure de-confliction. De-conflicted
defense planning implies essentially that defense plans of entities are compatible
and defense equipment and logistics standardized to the degree that cross-servicing
among entities is possible.
Coordinated C2 Approach. Here the objective is to increase overall effectiveness.
Coordination involves the development of a degree of common intent and an
agreement to link actions in the various plans being developed by the entities. This,
in turn, requires a significant amount of information sharing, thus broader
dissemination, and a richer set of interactions, both formal and informal, among
In the long term, the defense planning authorities of NATO and the EU would likely merge as NATO’s
transatlantic capability gap diminishes. After all, of the 26 European countries belonging to NATO, 23 are
members of the EU. NATO data indicate that 92% of total defense expenditures of European NATO members in
2011 came from EU members. Thus, it is essentially EU member countries that make up NATO’s European
Pillar. Building down the gap would make NATO more European, and eventually result in a “European NATO” as
the United States is re-balancing its strategic interests toward Asia (Major, 2013).
De-confliction (by means of spatial and timely separation) of allied operations was the common approach to
defense planning in NATO during the Cold War when NATO allies shared the common objective of deterring an
aggression by the Warsaw Pact.
those entities responsible for establishing intent and developing plans. A coordinated
approach requires that the collective not only be ceded decision rights that are
associated with the coordination process but also the decision rights associated with
the implementation of agreements that result from the coordination process. Simply
speaking, coordinated defense planning in Europe therefore requires that the
respective nations interact in developing common objectives, and defense planners
of the various nations interact during the development of national defense plans.
These must be reviewed iteratively and coordinated by the collective (NATO/EU) as
to whether those plans enable the collective capabilities required to meet common
Collaborative C2 Approach. The objective is to develop significant synergies through
the development of a single integrated plan shared by all entities. Their intents are
subordinated to common intent. Entity plans must be supportive of the single
integrated plan. Collaborating entities accept symbiotic relationships and are highly
interdependent. Very frequent (almost continuous) interaction between and among
entities, or individuals/organizations, involving richer and more extensive
information exchange, is required to establish shared understanding of situations
and their requirements, and the development of a single shared plan. Once common
intent and a shared plan have been established, the collective returns decision rights
to the entities to develop supporting plans and dynamically adjust these plans
collaboratively. Thus, practicing a collaborative approach requires that entities accept
significant constraints on their plans and actions. It follows that an approach to
collaborative defense planning involves development of a common overall plan by
the collective defining the constraints for national force planning. The results of
national force planning are integrated into the overall plan and adjusted
collaboratively to cope with changes in the operational and strategic environment.
Edge C2 Approach. Here the objective is to enable the entities of a collective to self-
synchronize. This requires that a rich, shared understanding of the situational
dynamics exists across the contributing entities. This in turn requires a robustly
networked collection of entities with widespread and easy access to information,
extensive sharing of information, rich and continuous interactions, and the broadest
possible distribution of decision rights. Edge C2 distinguishes itself from the other C2
approaches by replacing deliberate and formal coordination and collaboration
mechanisms within the collective with the dynamics of emergence and self-
synchronization of its entities. Whether an Edge approach is at all relevant for
defense planning in general is open to question. However, at this time, it appears
that it would be useful for collaborating nations to rapidly put together joint
‘Information Age Task Forces’ capable of dealing with the resulting uncertainty and
complexity implied by complex endeavors (e.g., Libya, Mali). In addition, the
development of special joint capabilities and their continued adaptation is required
to meet new threats such as Cyber War.
Coping with this kind of problem requires a high degree of individual and organizational
agility. The findings from the validation case studies performed by NATO RTO SAS-065
indicate that, in addition to resources being ill-matched to the tasks at hand, deficiencies in
operational performance observed were mostly due to an immature C2 approach. It also
was shown that the degree of maturity required, or requisite maturity, for a satisfactory
operational performance depends on the complexity and dynamics of the operational
environment (Huber and Lechner, 2010). Thus, the case study results confirm that C2 is a
critical enabler for operational performance and should therefore be at the center of
attention for defense planners.
The transformation of the de-conflicted defense planning approaches, practiced routinely by
the European members of NATO during the Cold War, toward a shared collaborative
approach as described above was essentially what Huber and Schmidt (1999) meant by
“Convergent Defense Planning” as a prerequisite for building down the transatlantic gap in
NATO’s military capabilities. However, Europe’s defense planning approaches have not
changed much since the end of the Cold War. On the contrary, it seemed that in the 1990s
defense planning returned to disjointed approaches as demonstrated by national
governments unilaterally cutting defense budgets, while military leadership tried to maintain
the Cold War force structures designed for territorial defense. A case in point is Germany:
Irrespective of legal and constitutional constraints, the country was hard pressed to deploy
(because of its force and personnel structure) more than 7,300 troops (from an army of
234,000 at the time) to the Balkans (Huber and Schmidt, 2004). It took Germany almost two
decades and two aborted reform attempts before deciding, again unilaterally, to adopt the
deployment-oriented “Neuausrichtung” (re-orientation) of the Bundeswehr that is currently
being implemented (BMVg, 2011).
Recent Initiatives for Improving Defense Cooperation
Albeit falling short of addressing the issue of convergent defense planning, there have
recently been three prominent initiatives for improving defense cooperation in Europe by
means of Role and Task Sharing and Pooling:
The bilateral UK-France Cooperation Treaty;
The Ghent Initiative (EU);
Smart Defense (NATO).
Role and Task Sharing implies relinquishing certain roles and tasks that will be taken care of
by partners on a reciprocal basis. In other words, defense capabilities of the respective
The case studies included evaluation of combat reports and military exercises (101st Airborne Division,
Stryker brigades, UK Wise Wargames); peace operations (IFOR, KFOR); simple disaster response (Elbe River
Flood 2002, Strong Angel III, Golden Phoenix); complex disaster response (Katrina, Tsunami 2004, Pakistan
Earthquake 2005); data generated by the experimental platform ELICIT (Experimental Laboratory for
Investigating Collaboration, Information-sharing, and Trust).
nations will become interdependent and, therefore, nations must be assured that in case of
need they can fall back on each other’s capabilities.
Role and Task Sharing implies a level of
cooperation categorized by NATO RTO SAS-065 as Collaborative C2. This requires, however,
that participating nations build trust and remove reservations about the availability of
shared roles and tasks when faced with a defense challenge or a United Nations (UN)-
Pooling refers to cooperative solutions involving two or more partners who join efforts in the
development and procurement of military equipment, along with the organizational and
operational capabilities and equipment that each of them needs, but cannot afford to
individually develop, procure, and/or operate efficiently.
Both of these cooperation mechanisms offer significant opportunities for savings while
potentially improving the collective capabilities of European militaries and the efficiency of
collective defense spending provided, however, that the respective opportunities are
systematically exploited. To that end, it would be desirable that European nations move
beyond specific agreements on defense cooperation and develop a comprehensive
approach, based upon the N2C2M2, to guide national defense investments, priorities, and
reforms, and shape force transformation. Such an approach would facilitate the articulation
of measurable goals and objectives.
UK-France Defence Cooperation Treaty
This treaty is a prominent example of pooling intended to improve collective defense
capability through UK and French forces working more closely together, contributing to
more capable and effective forces and ultimately improving the collective capability of NATO
and European defense (MoD, Codex, 2010). The treaty aims to create:
For this reason, there is still considerable reluctance, especially among larger European states, to enter into
such role and task sharing arrangements especially related to what they consider as core capabilities. Because
they can no longer afford to maintain sufficient core capabilities for pooling arrangements, smaller nations
might become more interested in role and task sharing especially with larger countries such as the UK and
Germany providing core capabilities in exchange for specialized capabilities. A current example of task sharing
is Aerial Surveillance and Air Policing for the Baltic States that is provided by NATO from a pool of mainly
European air defense forces.
Pooling has a long tradition in NATO. While it reduces each pooling partner’s operating cost of the pooled
items such as AWACS, there is significant evidence that pooling resources for multilateral system development
and production may have drawbacks regarding the overall cost effectiveness of a program as well as the
savings expected by the partners and the timely availability of products unless the partners share common
requirements and development and production programs are unilaterally managed. A case in point is
multilateral development and multisource production of military aircraft. Based on empirical data, Herbst
(1977) has shown that the cost of multinational combat aircraft development programs increases by a factor of
the square root of the number of nations involved. Thus, the cost of a four nation program would be twice that
of a unilateral program. In other words, while pooling saves each nation half of the cost of a unilateral program,
the four together lose half of the potential collective capability of a unilateral program. Airbus experts believe
that today the cost growth factor is considerably higher because of the higher complexity of modern combat
aircraft and the bureaucratic industrial and governmental management processes involved in multi-nation
development and production. The evidence available from the Eurofighter, Tiger, NH90 and A400M programs
supports this view.
A Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) able to carry out a range of operations
either bilaterally or through NATO, the EU or other coalition arrangements.
A maritime task group built around the French carrier Charles de Gaulle with the
ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets
from both countries, by the early 2020s.
The UK MoD and its French counterpart agreed that each devote an annual budget of
50 million Euros to shared Research and Development (R&D).
The UK and France recently signed a treaty agreeing to the joint construction and
operation of a new hydrodynamic facility (‘EPURE’) in France and a technology
development center in the UK (MoD, Codex, 2010).
These various initiatives indicate a level of linkage between the defense investments and
plans of the UK and France, implying that the relationship is moving towards a Coordinated
level in the categorization of C2 approaches.
The Ghent Initiative
Proposed by Germany and Sweden in November 2010 following their discussions in Ghent
on strengthening Europe’s military capabilities, and building on existing examples of
cooperation, the Ghent Initiative’s “goal is to preserve and enhance national operational
capabilities – with improved effect, sustainability, interoperability
and cost efficiency as a
result”. To this end, all EU member states need to analyze their military capabilities and
support structures along three categories:
1. Deemed essential for individual nations and therefore maintained on a strictly
national level limiting cooperation to measures that increase interoperability;
2. Where closer cooperation is possible without creating too strong dependencies
such as pooling training and capabilities including airlift and logistics capabilities;
3. Where mutual dependency and reliance upon European partners is acceptable in
an international role- and task-sharing framework such as support structures for
training and exercises, military academies, test and evaluation facilities, and pilot
training, and capabilities such as, for example, Seas Surveillance Cooperation
Baltic Sea (SUCBAS).
The authors of the initiative recommended that these analyses be concluded in the first half
of 2011 and consolidated afterwards by relevant EU bodies as a basis for clarifying possible
areas of cooperation, “to be presented to the (EU) Ministers of Defense” (Ghent Initiative,
2010; Brune et al, 2011).
Command Structures and Procedures is regarded as the one of six areas for increased cooperation that
“would offer the potential of increased interoperability and real savings”. The other five areas are related to
Military Requirements, R&D, Acquisition, Training and Exercises, and Operating Cost.
Apparently, the Ghent Initiative triggered the establishment of the EU Commission’ s
Defence Task Force in 2011. Its work provided the basis for the Commission’s
communication of July 2013 titled “Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and
security sector” that outlined a respective action plan to be discussed by the European
Council at its meeting in December 2013 (Biscop, 2013). On the basis of the Commission’s
recommendation, “the Council has identified a number of priority actions built around three
axes: increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of the Common Security and Defence
Policy (CSDP ), enhancing the development of capabilities and strengthening Europe’s
defence industry” (EUC, 2013).
Inspired by the remarks made by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June 2011
Secretary General Rasmussen proposed the concept of Smart Defence at the Munich
Security conference in February 2012. It was endorsed by the Leaders of the NATO-member
countries at the Chicago Summit of the Alliance in May 2012. The concept encourages allies
to cooperate in developing, acquiring and maintaining military capabilities to meet current
security problems in accordance with the new NATO strategic concept. According to
Rasmussen, “NATO smart defence means pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities
and coordinating efforts better”. Some 20 bi- and multilateral projects were approved for
this initiative in Chicago by the NATO leaders. At the same time, however, item 7 of the
press release of May 20 on the Declaration (Toward NATO Forces 2020) states that “The
development and deployment of defence capabilities is first and foremost a national
responsibility”. Provided it is systematically implemented as a comprehensive process and
managed by a competent NATO and/or EU agency, Smart Defense could be regarded as a
Coordinated Approach to defense planning in the alliance thus providing the basis for the
evolution of a future Collaborative Approach.
Steps toward Convergence?
The bilateral UK-French cooperation treaty may be considered as an initial step forward in
gradually evolving, from specific bi- or multilateral agreements on defense cooperation, a
comprehensive approach for systematically exploiting cooperation opportunities for
improving collective capabilities of European militaries and the efficiency of collective
defense spending. Additionally, the Ghent Initiative can be seen as another step in the
evolution of such a comprehensive approach since an analysis of ongoing cooperation
The council debate was preceded by a meeting with the NATO Secretary-General who welcomed the ongoing
efforts and commitments by the EU and its member states as being compatible with, and beneficial to NATO.
Gates stated that NATO faced “the real possibility of a dim, if not dismal future” because of the chronically
underfunded defense apparatus in Europe (ECO, 2012). In fact, only four European countries have committed
to the Alliance’s agreed benchmark of spending two percent of their GDP on Defense (Bramel, 2012) .
projects along the Initiative’s capability categories could provide a realistic basis from which
to continue moving forward.
In the end, such an approach would link national defense plans integrating them into a
common European plan reflecting the common security requirements of NATO and the EU.
It is argued that, in order to maximize the synergistic effects of cooperation, Smart Defence
needs to reach beyond today’s project-oriented cooperation agreements within otherwise
mostly independent national defense plans and adopt the conceptual framework provided
by the N2C2M2 for convergent defense planning in Europe.
In summary, following the path described in the N2C2M2 could lead to more convergent
development of collective military capabilities. As convergence grows with the degree to
which nations share common intent, information, and planning processes, more mature
levels of defense cooperation can be achieved. Furthermore, they could be achieved both in
more timely a manner and with the realization of improved efficiencies.
By now it is widely accepted that emerging changes in the US strategic doctrine imply that
Europeans can no more count on the willingness of the US to step in and fill capability gaps
if, as in Libya, European capabilities turn out to be insufficient to handle conflicts in their
backyard and other regions that are of vital interest to them, but not to the US. Therefore,
unless Europeans heed the Libyan lesson and become serious about improving their national
and collective military capabilities, they eventually might be left with no choice but to let
events with the potential to threaten their security take their course hoping that
humanitarian aid and toothless diplomatic efforts will be sufficient to restore stability and
preserve their interests. Therefore, Europeans must finally begin to mutually coordinate
their largely disjointed force structure and armaments planning as a basis for the evolution
of collaborative approaches to defense planning that reach beyond improving pooling and
sharing of assets as envisioned by the Ghent Initiative adopted by the EU, and NATO’s
concept of Smart Defense. We propose that the N2C2M2 be adopted as a conceptual
framework for the development of the organizational and communication infrastructure for
the transformation of defense planning in Europe (key word: Convergent Defense Planning),
beginning perhaps with a core group of “willing” governments.
Summarizing his analysis of Smart Defense, Mölling (2012) concluded that pooling and
sharing can contribute to solving the problem of diminishing European military capabilities
The capability categories proposed in the Ghent Initiative reflect the defense planning approaches discussed
above: (de-conflicted (category 1), coordinated (category 2), collaborative (category 3). An evaluation of the
more than 100 separate co-operation projects identified by Mölling (2012) that have been going on for some
time between NATO and EU States would allow the capture of the current levels of defense cooperation in
NATO and EU.
only “if the European nations are willing to re-consider the priority of political sovereignty
over military effectiveness and economic efficiency” (p. 3). In other words, the fundamental
question is when and to which degree will European nations be ready to delegate – contrary
to what NATO’s Chicago Summit Declaration in 2012 explicitly excluded – decision rights
regarding the development and deployment of defense capabilities to NATO or the EU,
Based on his investigations of more than 20 years ago, on reducing the transatlantic gap in
military capabilities, Huber concluded that: ‘Therefore, nothing short of:
replacing the many national defense and armament planning bureaucracies with
common European defense planning and RDT&E agencies;
consolidating European defense industries into viable business enterprises; and
integrating the European militaries into European Armed Forces
will ever yield a return on European defense investments comparable to that achieved by
the United States’ (Huber, 2003, p. 72).
Even though it was widely perceived as perfectly logical from an economic viewpoint, the
idea of common European Armed Forces has never received much support among European
political and military leaders. It is only now that this idea is beginning to re-surface as
European countries start to debate options concerning how to reconcile meeting future
security requirements despite austerity and faced with US Pivot. Improving defense
cooperation beyond Sharing and Pooling is an indispensable prerequisite for building down,
and eventually eliminating the transatlantic gap in military capabilities by the evolution of a
common European military.
The requisite transformation of defense cooperation, including convergent defense planning
in Europe, will certainly be a complex endeavor, if only because of the large number of
national political, economic, industrial, and military stakeholders involved. Its management
requires a new conceptual approach for which these authors recommend the N2C2M2 as a
model that has been validated based on numerous case studies and experiments (see NATO,
2010 and 2014).
Caveat: This paper reflects the views of the authors only and is not the official position of
For a detailed discussion of the opportunities and obstacles on the long road to European Armed forces the
reader is referred to Major (2011).
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