Navy Chiefs: Rising International Tensions Build Need for Partnerships
By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The top naval officers for four U.S. allies stressed the need for partnerships and international cooperation to help smaller nations procure and sustain the best technology at lower costs and to develop the interoperability that would be crucial in a high-end fight, but also is valuable in the more frequent humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
Addressing a forum at the 2017 Sea-Air-Space Exposition April 3, the chiefs of Navy for Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Norway said the need for international partnerships has grown due to the rising international tensions they face and the tightening of defense budgets.
Rear Adm. Lars Saunes, chief of the Royal Norwegian Navy, said low budgets meant his navy cannot afford the innovation it need, so “we must cooperate in developing the new technologies.”
Finland Navy Chief Vice Adm. Kari Takanen noted that his nation is “located in a rough neighborhood,” referring to the belligerent behavior of Russia, and “we need to cooperate more with our partners.”
Takanen listed the United States and neighboring Sweden as Finland’s most important partners, along with Germany.
Rear Adm. John Marten, chief of the New Zealand Navy, said maintaining its critical trading relationships and security, “requires creation and maintenance of international partnerships.” Recognizing that the “next war, and indeed the one we’re currently in,” will be transnational and multi-domain, interoperability will be crucial, Marten said.
Marten also noted the value of partnerships in the international assistance New Zealand received following a devastating earthquake that hit its North Island last year.
Vice Adm. Sandres Krause, chief of the German Navy who moderated the panel, said due to the tension in the Baltic Sea area, largely due to Russia’s actions, “seven like-minded nations” have emphasized cooperation “because none of us alone are able to effectively defend ourselves.”
That also demonstrated “a strong argument for NATO,” Krause said.
The three northern European navy chiefs noted their cooperation in buying similar frigates and submarines to reduce procurement and maintenance costs.
Saunes said Norway also found economy in turning to the United Kingdom for some of its training.
All of the officers cited the value of multinational exercises in developing the interoperability that is essential for both warfighting and humanitarian operations.