A closer look at force transformation…
The capability-based planning
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War mark a geostrategic shift that led many countries to rethink their defence doctrine. The end of a ‘bipolar’ world order and the emergence of new threats – especially terrorism – resulted in changes to the mission and organisation of defence forces. Resources are now thought of and optimised in terms of military capacity. This ‘capacity revolution’, or ‘transformation of armed forces’, is an ongoing, ever-changing evolution.
The capacity approach originated in the United States and was initially adopted by NATO countries before spreading to other partners with a similar level of development (Australia, Japan). It now includes many Asian countries (China, Singapore) and even countries in the Persian Gulf. In each case, the objective is the same: to develop defence tools that are more efficient, better adapted, and cost effective.
The concept of capacity encompasses a wide area that includes personnel, military command, programmes, operations, logistics and operational maintenance, doctrine and costs.
Applied over the long term, this approach implies the development of new models for armies and defence systems, as well as new operational and technical specifications. Comparisons with existing resources makes it possible to identify capacity shortfalls and overlaps. This is the principle underlying the European Union’s ECAP procedures and NATO’s ACT scheme.
The increasing costs of capacity are also helping to drive the process. The capacity approach often includes inter-army cooperation , and is heavily dependent on information and communication technology (Network Centric Warfare, Network Enabled Capability, etc.). Within the European Union and NATO, this approach has encouraged closer cooperation and resource-sharing.
Examples include the intervention forces defined at Helsinki, the European Gendarmerie Force, European Air Transport and the NATO Defence Force . Bringing together national forces will also depend on achieving military coordination among allies, which is necessary for all multinational interventions.
Finally, the inter-army capacity approach has a direct structural impact on the organisation of armies and defence systems. It has already led to significant changes, notably the focus on structures able to promote an inter-army approach through a focus on both the mission and the operational challenge.
This is particularly the case for the United Kingdom (1998: Defence Strategic Guidance), Belgium (2000: disbanding of three armed forces), Sweden (2001: creation of a single army), Germany (2004: integration of forces), France (2005: creation of an Inter-Army Centre for design, doctrine and experimentation) and the Netherlands (a single army).