Zagreb, Croatia (7 July, 2015) – NATO and the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC) recognize that technological innovation is central to defense education modernization.  With this aim in mind, a multinational team of 40 experts across 12 countries kicked off an Education Development Working Group (EDWG) workshop today in Zagreb, Croatia to assist partner nations with modernization of their defense education institutions.

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As a bridge between the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, and the Euro-Atlantic zone, the Caspian Sea is increasingly at the center of the global geopolitical and commercial game. In addition to its strategic location, the Caspian Sea, according to analysts, could contain between 6 and 10 percent of the world’s gas reserves, and from 2 to 6 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Defined in 1921 as an Irano-Soviet sea, the Caspian rapidly became a source of tension after the fall of the USSR. The increased number of littoral states, rising from two to five, made it necessary to redraw national sea borders and, maybe even more importantly, to redistribute the ownership of the resources lying under the Caspian seabed. As a regional agreement was never reached, each country has started granting permits for the extraction of hydrocarbons in what it considers to be its territorial waters. These conflicting claims recently led to a generalized and alarming military buildup across the region. As a result, in the past several years a number of armed incidents have been reported that have contributed to further destabilizing an already volatile region.
The government of Poland has addressed a number of difficult national security issues since the nation regained its independence from Soviet control in 1989. Longstanding border disputes with neighboring countries and the perceived disparate treatment of Polish minorities in these countries are just two examples of the many external security challenges Poland faced head-on after its emergence from the Warsaw Pact. Poland’s leadership has also addressed a number of internal security problems, such as the modernization of its Cold War-era military and the transfer of control of the armed forces from the Polish General Staff to civilian authorities within its Ministry of Defense. Notwithstanding these daunting security challenges, Poland’s decision to support elements of a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) program on its sovereign soil has arguably posed the most complex national security dilemma for Polish leaders in this most recent chapter of its long national history. This essay will examine the decision to support the BMD program from the perspective of the Polish government, focusing in particular on the BMD program proposed and eventually implemented by the Obama Administration in 2009. After providing a historical summary of the United States’ BMD program as it applies to Poland, the article will examine the domestic context within Poland, and how this context influenced the actions of government officials charged with evaluating the BMD program. The essay will then review Poland’s national interests in accepting a BMD program on its soil, and will discuss how Polish officials negotiated with the Obama Administration to gain concessions in support of these national interests. Finally, the essay will examine how the decision to support the BMD program affected Poland’s long-term relationships with neighboring countries within the European Union (EU) and, most importantly, Russia. By allying with the United States and, to a certain extent, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on BMD, Poland put itself in the middle of a highly contentious international dispute. Given the security guarantees, military modernization, and potential economic aid that resulted from this eventual support, however, the decision by the Polish government will likely prove to be a beneficial one, as Poland continues to rapidly emerge from the shadows of the Warsaw Pact.
Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00

The Economics of Smart Defense

NATO’s “Smart Defense” proposal claims to be a new way of thinking about generating defense capabilities. It encourages allies to cooperate in developing, acquiring, and maintaining military capabilities. It means pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities, and coordinating efforts better. It involves member states not spending more but spending better; it is about specializing in what we do best and seeking multinational solutions to common problems. Smart Defense has economic dimensions that need to be clarified and assessed critically. We do not live in a world of “magic wand” economics, where declarations of intent miraculously lead to efficiency improvements in defense markets. Smart Defense cannot ignore the incentives and constraints that operate in defense markets at both the national and Alliance levels. The financial and economic crisis of the past five years has meant cuts in national defense budgets, which have meant that nations cannot avoid the need for more and continuing difficult defense choices. Inefficiencies within member states’ defense markets and within NATO have to be addressed. For each member state, budget pressures and rising input costs mean that, yet again, something has to go. The question is, What are the options and what goes?
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