Addressing the NATO-Industry Forum in Stockholm on Wednesday (25 October 2023), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the vital link between NATO, Allies and industry when it comes to ensuring support to Ukraine, strengthening deterrence and defence, and maintaining the Alliance’s technological edge.
Mr Stoltenberg stressed that while some investors “have the misguided idea that the defence industry is somehow ‘unethical’” – there is nothing unethical about defending Allies or helping Ukrainian soldiers to defend their country. “Indeed, without industry, there is no defence, no deterrence and no security,” he said.
NATO’s relationship with industry has become more important than ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Many Allies have significantly depleted their stocks in order to support Ukraine, which will continue to need large quantities of high-quality capabilities to defend itself. The Secretary General said: “Now we need to ramp up production to meet Ukraine’s needs, but also to strengthen our own deterrence and defence”.
Mr Stoltenberg underlined that Allies have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the Cold War and increased defence spending. At the Vilnius Summit, Allies stepped up even more, including with a new Defence Production Action Plan to aggregate demand, boost capacity, strengthen engagement with industry and increase interoperability.
The Secretary General also stressed the importance of cooperating with the private sector on innovation, saying “NATO needs industry as we navigate a world shaped by disruptive new technologies. Technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, biotech and quantum are changing the character of conflict as much as the Industrial Revolution.” This means that “we must constantly sharpen our technological edge by developing and adopting new technologies; cooperating with the private sector; shaping global standards; and embedding principles of responsible use that our democratic values enshrine.”
This year marks the first time a NATO invitee nation has hosted the NATO-Industry Forum. The Secretary General said that this demonstrates how close Sweden already is to the Alliance, adding that he looks forward to welcoming Sweden as a full-fledged NATO Ally soon.