23 April 2012 - NATO PA SECRETARY GENERAL SAYS SMART DEFENCE IS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME
Addressing a gathering of parliamentarians from South Eastern Europe in Tirana on Monday 23 April, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's Secretary General, David Hobbs, said he was optimistic that NATO Heads of State and Government would be able to overcome past obstacles to closer defence cooperation when they meet at the Chicago Summit next month.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Hobbs said, "Smart defence is a new label, but not a new idea. The concept of pooling and sharing the capabilities of Alliance members is as old as the Alliance itself. But past proposals for divisions of labour, shared capabilities, closer cooperation on defence planning and procurement encountered a range of obstacles, including concerns about national defence industries and national sovereignty.
These concerns have not gone away, but a new situation has emerged in the light of positive experiences with some pooling and sharing initiatives, and a trend towards international defence-industrial consolidation. At the same time, NATO is having to deliver operationally while its members face the budgetary pressures of the ongoing financial and economic crisis.
The time is ripe for a fresh look at the ideas underpinning "Smart Defence" Mr Hobbs stated, "and I am optimistic that the Chicago Summit will lead to real progress in not just in pooling and sharing capabilities, but also moving towards more extensive cooperation in defence procurement . "Smart Defence" is an idea whose time has come.
Mr Hobbs was one of the keynote speakers at a regional conference of parliamentarians from South Eastern Europe hosted by the Albanian Parliament in cooperation with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. The conference aimed at exploring areas for Smart Defence cooperation in South Eastern Europe, and developing concrete proposals in the run-up to NATO's Chicago Summit."