Information from General Meeting

Alice Štysová

On June, the 19th 2017 the General Meeting of the Defence and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic (AOBP) was held in Brno. A lot of guests visited the meeting: Deputy minister of defence Mr. Tomáš Kuchta, Director of the Logistic division of the MoD Maj Gen Jaromír Zůna, Director of the CSDP department at the MFA Mrs Kateřina Sequensova, member of Academy of Science Board Prof Josef Lazar, Director of the Defence and Security Department of the Office of the Government Mr Lukáš Vilím and number of others.

The President of the AOBP in his expose mentioned success of our companies which is based on export achievements. He also pointed out some problems and risks. According to Mr Hynek the major problem is a low defence budget which is far from 2 % of GDP as promised by previous governments. Another problem stems from disproportion between conceptual documents and their transposition into life. Current risk is coming from EC proposal to establish the European Defence Fund, his acquisition part respectively. Common acquisition will not necessarily mean greater achievement for smaller countries. Industry sees a transfer of defence budget elements to Brussels as a risky move. Brussels will drive the decisions on some of defence spendings but national governments will be held responsible for defence as such. Governments will partially lose their hand on defence acquisitions, therefore, national defence industry will lose as well. Defence industry does not believe the money sent to Brussels will be spent back in the Czech Republic. We can see that major EU companies are expressing their happiness with the proposal. Instead of inspiring further consolidation of overcapacities in defence sector (mainly in older EU member countries) EU wants to consolidate defence contracts. Consolidated contracts will allow major states to keep their national defence industrial capacities. This sort of prospective we do not regard effective and fair enough. It could be viewed as another step to hand over some of national competencies to Brussels. AOBP is principally not against international cooperation. When it comes to defence programs these must be generated from bottom up, based on national interests. Those nations who want to keep their defence industry part of their security architecture should have a reasonable and legitimate possibility to do so. Therefore, the General meeting of the AOBP unanimously adopted following resolution:

“General meeting refuses decision to establish European Defence Fund in a mode it was introduced by the EC. Transfer of resources on procurement to Brussels, allegedly meant to help defence industry to consolidate overcapacities in EU, will result in redistribution which will hardly help industry in smaller countries. We have reduced defence industrial capacities during last decades by 85%   and their further reduction would endanger security interests of the Czech Republic”.

Mr. Kuchta in his speech expressed satisfaction with excellent cooperation between MoD and defence industry. He also mentioned MoD export activities to support industry which contributed to good economic data throughout last years. Similarly, Mrs. Sequensova referred to good export results because of improved coordination between all stakeholders. It has resulted in further growth by 18 % in 2016. We can see similar trend in 2017. She underlined importance of defence industry for the national security and relevance of the country in international environment. The aim of MFA is to use growing exports as a strategic tool for security and political interests of the Czech Republic as it is the case in western EU members. Another aim is to support exports of military equipment to provide benefits for self-sufficient sophisticated national defence and security industrial base (priority for MoD and Armed forces). Subsequently, it will positively affect national economy.

Maj Gen Zůna quite realistically descripted limits of the MoD given shortage of qualified personnel which is a consequence of many reorganizations, transformations and some unfortunate decisions to centralize acquisitions. It would be difficult to launch new programs, namely program for the Ground forces and the Airforce. MoD and the General Staff are working to improve the situation.

Professor Lazar talked about needs to better coordinate basic and applied research, specifically between Academy of Science and Defence industry. There used to be a coordination body at the Academy and it would be good to consider intensified coordination again. Similarly to US DARPA. It would be beneficial for both entities, military and civilian. He also mentioned the role of the Academy in the field of competitiveness improvement and solving contemporary needs of the society.  Here he sees room for potential cooperation. Academy can offer its capacities for example laboratories, technical equipment or services of Centre for technology transfer.

Then General meeting continued with internal procedural matters in line with the Articles of the AOBP.