Center for Strategic Decision Research



Network-Centric Transformation and Transatlantic Industrial Cooperation

Mr. Carl O. Johnson
Northrop Grumman International Inc.

During the course of the workshop we heard Minister Jung speak about the joint responsibility and joint obligation of the Alliance and how the EU is faced with broader and longer obligations than it has faced in the past. He also spoke of the need for collaboration between civil and military forces and for the systematic development of capabilities. Slovenian Defense Minister Erjavec stated that new challenges require new capabilities and that duplication of effort should be avoided in developing them. General Jones spoke of the transformation of the NATO Response Force and how the NEC must be part of the transformation.

My remarks today focus on network-centric transformation and transatlantic industrial cooperation as the Atlantic Alliance and the EU extend their engagement to out-of-area operations—confronting new asymmetric threats and unanticipated challenges.


Two strategic realities confront us: First, while the European continent and the member-nations of the Alliance are prosperous and secure, our stability remains dangerously at risk. Terrorism, as well as weapons of mass destruction and the technology of failed states, all represent challenges that are considerably more complex than those of the past. We find ourselves in a period of increasing peril, facing a potential spectrum of crisis and conflict from that of high-intensity conventional warfare on the Korean peninsula to the specter of military hegemony in East Asia to a nuclear Middle East and the ongoing threat of global terrorism. The second reality is that meeting these common challenges requires new ways of cooperation, new strategies, and new capabilities.

Both the United States and the Alliance are in the midst of a complex transformation to provide forces that are light, mobile, rapidly deployable over long distances, and sustainable for as long as needed—in other words, forces able to carry out the full spectrum of Alliance missions. Alongside this fundamental shift, the transatlantic defense industry is strengthening its efforts in reconnaissance, surveillance, and network-centric operations.


Today in Afghanistan and Iraq, brave men and women of many Alliance nations and their coalition partners are putting their lives at risk. As an executive of a U.S. defense industry, I feel a strong sense of purpose in bringing our technological ingenuity and know-how to bear in order to help them. Technology will never be the complete answer to asymmetric threats, but it will certainly be a large part of the solution. In battle, gaining superior knowledge, or situational awareness, can be the key to victory.

In the past, the controlling reality of war was uncertainty. The fog of war meant that commanders were often unsure of the exact location of their own forces or of adjacent friendly forces, to say nothing of the enemy. In operation Iraqi Freedom, much of that changed. The war has been called the first network-centric war, with information technology linking existing assets to enable fast-paced joint integrated operations. Carried aloft on manned and unmanned airplanes and satellites, increasingly sophisticated sensors monitor movement on the ground day or night, in all kinds of weather. As a result, the fog of war has been lifted, revealing an electronically described landscape that gives commanders a highly detailed picture of the battlefield in near real time. Information is a decisive force multiplier. And it is not simply commanders who have gotten close to real-time information. In many instances so has the soldier or marine in the field, whose armored vehicle, truck, or Humvee was outfitted with satellite antennas and laptop computers netted together in a wireless web.

This ability to gather, manage, assimilate, and act on huge amounts of information can help reverse the information asymmetries that terrorists exploit. It can also provide the technological edge needed to make up for the shortfall in the ends-means relationship for future NATO out-of-area deployments. Ultimately, putting the advantage of network-centric systems directly in the hands of individual soldiers, linking them together, will enable the Alliance to do what we are all asked to do these days: more with less.

As has been stated here at the workshop, neither North America nor Europe can afford duplication of capabilities. All of our budgets are pressed to sustain legacy systems that are not relevant to the current threat and that compete for funding with critical technologies needed for the battlefields of the future. In addition, we cannot afford to reinvent technological solutions that already exist. Instead, we need to leverage and take advantage of the strengths and the investment already available among us.

Today, the transatlantic defense industry is better linked and stronger than ever. Trusting relationships have been developed based on our common values. Witness the growth of BAE in the United States, with its recent acquisition of UDLP; the selection of an AgustaWestland helicopter as the replacement for the U.S. Presidential helicopter; the limited partnership between Northrop Grumman and EADS for EuroHawk; and the phenomenal strides EADS North America has taken competing strongly for U.S. Army and Air Force contracts, including the new USAF tanker replacement program. And, of course there is the AGS industry team working together to provide critically needed transformational capabilities.

It is clear that better transatlantic defense industry relations are benefiting both U.S. and EU defense companies. We have found new partners that enable us to be more competitive in our own domestic markets.

What commanders and their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines need most today is information and the tools to act on it, enabling them to see first, decide first, and act first. Today’s young people in uniform tend to be technologically sophisticated and are used to finding the information they want. Our task is to provide them with the means to acquire and act on the information they need. This implies complicated issues of connectivity, the availability and reliability of capability, and providing information assurance to make the information immediately useful to the commander and the soldier. This means running the gamut of feeding the entire common operational picture at the strategic and operational level as well as the relevant area to the lowest tactical level. Both are national and Alliance problems, and as we address them we must bear in mind that we must break down the firewalls that inhibit our ability to work together.


For the transatlantic defense industry this poses both challenges and opportunity. The technology challenge is exciting: How do we design the applications, standards, transport mechanisms, and network enterprise services that provide a fully mobile network? How do we make the network interoperable with related systems? The business challenge is equally exciting: How can we adapt current commercial technology? Where are the margins for R&D investment beyond existing “off the shelf” technology? How can we better partner with you?

I can assure you that my colleagues in industry and government on both sides of the Atlantic are wrestling with these challenges every day and working hard to forge their solutions. So my message to you today is that industry is ready: ready with mature technologies, ready with cost-effective solutions, and ready to cooperate fully to satisfy national, NATO, and EU needs for modern defense systems capable of meeting present and future threats to our security and stability.


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