This February, Defense Ministers of the 28 NATO member states agreed to support the "Smart Defense" initiative proposed by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "Smart defense" was also mentioned in an article published by the newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin: "'Smart' defense to tackle new threats... is necessary to create a fundamentally new, 'smart' system of military analysis and strategic planning...Our country faces the task of military development within the limits of deterrence strategy and the level of defensive sufficiency." Cooperation in this domain is an important component of tackling the challenges which stand before NATO and Russia alike. Although NATO-Russian cooperation is criticized harshly by some Russian and Western European experts, such cooperation is today's reality. Joint operations against terrorism and piracy as well as table and field military exercises confirm the increasing level of mutual trust.
One of the principle points of Smart Defense is defense industry expenditures optimization with respect to research and development. It has been noted that favorable regimes of cooperation between NATO Member states may be an important measure within this process. I believe this approach should not be limited to Trans-Atlantic Defense Technological and Industrial Cooperation - working relationships with the Russian Federation must also be considered.
The positive experiences of cooperation with France ("Mistral" amphibious assault ships), Italy ("Lince" light multi-role vehicles) and others, as well as impressive financial resources allocated in the Russian federal budget for defense needs, may play a significant role in this field. But military-technical cooperation between NATO members and the Russian Federation is not limited to acquisition of military equipment and technologies by the Russian side. Possible joint projects in third-party states and cooperation with "new" NATO members with Soviet military heritage may be fruitful as well.
Cooperation in space has become a very important component of any country's defense capabilities, and the discussion on an international treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space must be returned to the agenda. Clearly formulated stances of all stakeholders will allow compromise on this subject, thus finding a common understanding of outer space's role in the overall defense system.
A special place in the Russia-NATO interaction is occupied by Ballistic Missile Defense. It is encouraging that both parties declare readiness to search joint solutions to ensure protection from missile attacks. Moreover, regular meetings of military experts are taking place and state-of-the-art simulation tools are used to analyze the effectiveness of different approaches towards possible missile defense architecture in Europe.
In order to fulfill the objectives of "Smart Defense", such as expenditures optimization, specialization of national defense industries, modern technologies and policies implementations, I see a supreme need to create effective, actual and common "rules of the game" for all stakeholders. Validation of universal norms for military-technical cooperation, export control, and weapon specifications will lead to creation of actually "smart" relations for the 21st century. The "NATO-Russia Council Consolidated Glossary of Cooperation" is, without doubt, one of the first steps in this direction. Possible further action may be assembling a comprehensive "open" database on scientific and technical military-industrial capabilities, thus allowing parties to establish mutually beneficial and effective cooperation.
Increasing the level of mutual trust and transparency in defense policy approaches will assure the stability of this system and provide the possibilities for optimal national defense industries development. The proposed spheres of cooperation between NATO and Russia (conventional weapons, space activities, missile defense) match the objectives of "Smart Defense": optimized spending ("less money"), technological development in defense industries ("greater security") and international cooperation ("working together").
Dmitry Stefanovich is a post-graduate student in the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences.