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What Did We Learn from Jamming? (Part 1)

Organizers, co-initiators and think-tank partners of Security Jam 2012

Here are some interesting facts from Security Jam 2012:

-over 16,000 logins

-3,000 posts

-more than 400 threads

-8 thematic forums

Based on the above figures, it is safe to say that Security Jam 2012 (Monday 19th-Friday23rd March) was an overwhelming success. Thousands of experts, representatives of national governments and armed forces, international institutions, NGOs, think-tanks, industry, academia and members of the media took part in this massive online brainstorm and focused on finding real solutions to global security issues. Some of the VIPs who took the time to share their ideas with Security ‘Jammers’ included Admiral James Stavridis (Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO), General Stéphane Abrial (Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO), Maciej Popowski (Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service), Claude-France Arnould (Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency) and Admiral Anthony Johnstone-Burt (NATO ACT Chief of Staff).

The Security Jam included some innovative features to facilitate dialogue, such as the ‘Find out what people are really talking about’ text-mining tool, which identified the most discussed and trending themes across all of the discussions. With the use of a slider, participants could see what the hot keywords of each day were, and have an overview of the most discussed issues. Some of the keywords most frequently mentioned during the week included: cyber-attack, cyber security, EU-NATO, Military intervention, NATO-Russia, Security threats, Interoperability, Russia-China, Pakistan, and EU CSDP.

In this first part of the ISN report on the Security Jam, we will briefly present the most interesting ideas discussed in four of the eight forums, with the other four to be covered tomorrow, 27 March.

Future Capabilities and Technologies

One of the highlights of the forum was a discussion on relations between NATO and Russia, particularly with regards to the question of whether Russia and NATO will reach an agreement on missile defense. Jammers discussed what kind of agreement both sides should be willing to accept, as well as whether or not a lack of agreement would lead confrontation.

Another interesting topic concerned what new approaches we can explore in the way we prioritize, develop and acquire new capabilities. The challenges discussed include: first, how to identify those technologies which are the most promising ones and have the broadest possible application in addressing the spectrum of challenges that we will face in the future; second, to develop the most innovative ways to invest the increasingly scarce resources in technology and capability development; and finally, to understand the implications of their use, and the transformation we need to undertake now in order to effectively deal with them when they arrive.

International Cooperation in Capabilities

In light of defense budget cuts, the need to end NATO-EU duplication was brought up by Security and Defense Agenda Director Giles Merritt. In the context of NATO’s Smart Defense Initiative, in which allies attempt to figure out how they can most efficiently share capability development and maintenance tasks, and the European Defense Agency, which is encouraging the pooling and sharing of capabilities to balance out national defense cuts, NATO and the EU should use the defense budget cuts as an opportunity to put an end to long-lasting disputes about capability development and merge both projects. This idea goes hand in hand with the challenge of aligning nations’ priorities, based on the notion that common focus assures effectiveness. To sum it up in a sentence, the discussion centered on doing more by doing it together.

Strategic Partnerships

One of the most interesting ideas put forth was that of the creation of a NATO-China Council, modeled on the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to improve cooperation and confidence-building between the Alliance and Moscow. A similar dialogue platform with Beijing might represent an important strategic move from a global governance perspective. On the same spirit of forging strategic partnerships, the usefulness of soft power was underlined by Deputy Secretary General of NATO. Alexander Vershbow. The soft power instruments include developing a network of security partnerships, which is vital for dealing with global security challenges such as terrorism, proliferation and piracy – both in the concrete military assets partners provide, and in the additional political legitimacy that their participation brings. This unique mix of hard and soft power instruments is more relevant than ever.

Crisis Management

One of the hot topics of this forum was the fact that crisis management planning should be comprehensive and look towards the long run, beyond the time horizon of the planned engagement. Measures should be part of a broad strategic framework. A comprehensive approach would also include sequencing matters, for example security actions would be followed by development intervention.

Another aspect of crisis management mentioned in several threads was the lack of case-specific and country-specific information. In Afghanistan, for example, one of the many problems right from the beginning was that the “coalition of the willing” under US-leadership and subsequently NATO, lacked sufficient knowledge about Afghan politics, culture, tribal dynamics, etc. Therefore the issue that surfaces is what could major international actors, such as NATO, UN, and EU do to improve their information capabilities in crisis management.

Stay tuned to the ISN blog for the second half of this report!


For more information on the Security Jam, please visit our previous posts Security Jam 2012 – Be Part of the Solution!, Security Jam 2012: Halftime and Security Jam 2012: Make Your Recommendations to the World Leaders!

For an overview of the Security Jam updates through the Security Defense Agenda’s YouTube channel, please click here.

To learn more about the The Security and Defence Agenda (SDA), please click here.