NATO Deputy Secretary General opens “Defence Disrupted” innovation and technology conference

Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană opened the “Defence Disrupted 2022” conference on Thursday (26 May 2022), stressing the importance of maintaining NATO’s technological edge, and remaining at the forefront of defence innovation. In a video address to participants gathered in London, he reflected on how innovation and technology have always been central to NATO’s mission of preventing war.

The Deputy Secretary General cautioned that today, the West’s technological edge “is being challenged by nations that do not share our values, like Russia and China”. He pointed to Russia’s investment in hypersonic missiles, cyber weapons, and disinformation capabilities, and China’s work to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by the end of this decade. However, he noted that free and open societies have a unique advantage: the fact that “our most creative and innovative minds are able to express themselves freely, to challenge, to think in radical new directions, without the threat of reprisals”.

Underlining NATO’s vital role as a platform for cooperation on technology and innovation, Mr Geoană noted that interoperability is essential to credible collective defence. “Two ships may sail side-by-side, but if their systems cannot communicate, if they cannot operate as part of a larger whole, they may as well be in different oceans,” he said. He welcomed that NATO’s new Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) will “identify and develop the next generation of new technologies”, working with dozens of sites across Europe and North America. DIANA, together with a new multinational NATO Innovation Fund for start-ups developing “cutting-edge dual-use technologies”, should be fully operational in 2023.

The Deputy Secretary General concluded by saying that “it is vital that the open, democratic nations of the world work together to ensure our values remain at the heart of our technological future.” He added: “it is up to all of us to play our part in maintaining our security, and building a better, safer world for future generations”.