At the Conference of “Modular Design: Creating a NATO Technology App Store”, on 03 Dec. 2020, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană gave the following speech:
(As delivered – Source https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions.htm)
Daniel thank you so much. I’ve seen, Jamie Shea our dear priceless friend on one of the small windows on our screens. I’m also very grateful to Bjarke Ingels and his wonderful team for bringing a fresh perspective to what we do here in NATO and thank you all for participating.
Speaking of architects, my wife is an architect and sometimes I feel I’m not up to the job, even after 35 years plus of marriage.
But what’s really exciting about the conference today and I think the conversation that is taking place in the innovation ecosystem around our democratic world is how can we, in a way, fuse the federally dissociated areas of interest and strands of technology that look unrelated, at least at the first glance, and how can we fuse them into something that makes sense and bring some more innovation. I think this is the most interesting part of our conversation today and I encourage you to dig deeper and come with even fresher ideas on how can we put these fairly different things in one new attractive and successful idea, innovation or new technology.
You know, I’m chairing the Innovation Board in NATO. This is of course a NATO enterprise board which was established only two years ago. As Secretary Stoltenberg asked me to be a champion innovation across the Alliance and outside of the Alliance and this is what I’m trying to do in our conversation today as well.
So how can we make sure that the ever diversified definition of security with so much new additions to the traditional defense related security, how can NATO continue to keep our technological edge? That’s a little bit old fashioned. It’s a sort of an antiquated, if you want, a quotation (?). But in essence, the question is – in a world that has, has changed so fast when governments and defense, public sector defense, traditional defense is not producing anymore the internet, the GPS or things that we used to do in governments before – how can an alliance like NATO, 30 nations, so many partnerships around the world, how can we maintain, retain and endure in terms of our technological advance?
Because there are three ingredients to NATO’s enduring success. The first one is the commonality of our values. And it’s one question I would like to ask all of you because as we think and act in the private sector, in academia, in the public sector, international organizations on how to advance technology and how to adopt and adapt to new technologies, I think we have something which makes us different from our competitors, more authoritarian regimes around the world – our values. And how can we introduce in the way we think, in a modular fusion style always this fundamental ingredient which is our values of open societies, the free flow of information and rule of law, integrity, ethics, standards, international law. That’s one very important question for us and I think this is one of the explanations of the extraordinary success of our Alliance in the last 70 plus years.
The second issue that is very much to our mind – how can we really get outside of our silos, as Daniel was saying in the introduction? Because we have of course, as NATO, intense and fruitful and long standing interactions with the private sector, industry, with academia, with many other places, but I have a feeling that we have to do more and be more courageous and getting outside and express ourselves and expose ourselves with our needs, with our ambitions, with our complications sometimes, to much broader ecosystem of innovation because this ecosystem is growing, is more diverse, is commercially driven, and I think this is the second major challenge for NATO. How to get outside of our traditional way of doing things and be agile, be innovative and find ways to adopt, to fund, and to have this technological edge sustained over the years?
And of course, I think some of you have read about Secretary General Stoltenberg’s vision about NATO 2030. Just I think the day before yesterday the foreign ministers of NATO received a report from a group of experts. And if you read among the 138 recommendations that they’re making to us and of course the Secretary General would present his own views informed by these reports to our leaders when they will be meeting in early 2021, you’ll see a lot of work on technology, and also a call from the outside world of NATO, from experts who have been asked for ideas and contribution and criticism and technology, new technologies, disruptive technologies, innovation is a very important part of this thing. So this is also a political issue. And this is also something that leads to my third observation about our conversation today and our conversation in the years to come.
[not audible] Because we see now a growing difference in the capabilities of the research, private sector and governments potency, in some very very advanced NATO allies, some nations that have big economies, deep innovation ecosystems, deep financial and venture capital markets, an ecosystem of universities and research, an appetite for risk taking which is higher than in other nations that are part of our great Alliance.
So for us as the political leaders of this alliance it’s very important to making sure – of course we cannot ask every nation to be at the same level with the others, there’s always a difference in size and potency – but then to make sure when it comes to defense and security we remain interoperable. That’s a fundamental issue that’s, if you want a third layer, on the explanation of the success of our Alliance. One being values, second one being technological advance over our competitors, and thirdly, interoperable, because that’s where we are. We are here to be able to defend the billion people we have under the NATO flag as nations successfully also in the future.
Also let me say just one word about the way ahead for us. We are working in NATO upon instruction from our leaders who have met last time in London in December 2019. And the in wisdom, our leaders instructed us, amongst many other things, to basically think, present and adopt and implement a roadmap for emerging and disruptive technologies. We are preparing, on the way to the next NATO summit of early 2021 when our defense ministers will be meeting in February next year, to have a presentation and endorsement by our defense ministers with the eye of putting some parts of this new technologies, disruptive, normative issues affecting, impacting the security of NATO and of the world, in the decision making process of our leaders of the next NATO summit.
But it’s very important for us and this is why we’re doing this kind of interactions and engagement with many other players outside of the NATO enterprise is to make sure that we retain the most important, the indispensable ingredients for the inherent success of our Alliance when our leaders will be meeting.
Also Military Committees are working on a very important concept, which is now in the process of deliberations inside the Alliance, is the Warfighting Capstone Concept which is from a military perspective and from our command in Norfolk for Command Transformation, is also the way in which military colleagues are seeing the transformation that technologies are bringing to their line of work. So EDT on one side, Capstone Concept on the other side, and NATO 2030 is the third more political, more global, more far reaching issue, so this is if you want the context. The triangle of policies, those political, those technological and military, that we are working upon as we speak. This is why I’m so interested to be part of this conversation.
This is why some of these ideas I hope will take them on board to our next Innovation Board meeting. We have established, just a few months ago and I’m grateful to the nations who have lent some of the best professionals who are NATO Innovation Advisory Board. And we have splendid people from all walks of life, advising us and making sure that we do the right things. So I’m only hoping that this new conversation is very intriguing and the sophisticated approach, as the NATO technology App Store, I love it. So I’ll be here to continue to listen. I’ll be part of this conversation even in a muted way, giving the chance of the ones who have brighter ideas and also more sophistication than I do, to take the flow in advance this conversation.
What I just want to say on a serious note in the conclusion. We are fully aware of the dramatic implications of technology transformation for everything we do in our lives, in our society, in our economies and also in our defence and security. And there is nothing more important for NATO – the most successful Alliance in the history of human mankind – to continue to be, act and perform as such for many decades to come.
There is a need for a strong NATO, there is a need for agile NATO, there is a need for a more technological NATO, there is a need for NATO that performs its fundamental functions of multilateral institution, of transatlantic bond, and also if you want the sort of a big policy insurance – stability and security in many areas around our immediate geography of Euro-Atlantic space.
So thank you so much. I’m looking forward to taking part in your great conversation. Anything that you deem important for us in terms of suggestions, ideas, the report of this conference, please share it with me and my colleagues, and we’ll be taking the best ideas and introduce them in our grinding machine of priorities and important things to do for us. Thank you. That’s a great idea and I’m very happy to be with you today.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_NATO.svg