In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Vice Admiral Axel Schimpf
Several international studies have identified a range of evolving global trends that are likely to increase the risk of crises or conflicts in maritime and coastal regions. As a consequence, the German Navy will have to continue to be prepared for operating at and from the sea in a joint environment in regions far away from home for potentially long periods of time.
The effects of globalization in an increasingly interconnected world call for better maritime domain awareness. Development of new technologies provides new opportunities but may also be the source of vulnerabilities and new risks. Naval procurement cycles are challenged to keep up with the speed of innovation.
Climate change may open new maritime trade routes with the associated security risks. In addition, environmental effects will very likely increase the occurrence of natural disasters in coastal regions. Area disputes may become more likely as deep-sea resources become more accessible for exploitation.
Demographic effects may create future maritime conflicts as well. While the world population grows rapidly, especially in coastal regions, our own population is predicted to decrease and become older and more international. We will have to adapt to these trends.
As risks and threats become more dynamic and unpredictable, the German Navy will require a wide range of naval capabilities in the future. Also, in times of strained defense budgets among all allies and partners, the German Navy is striving to increase the operational effectiveness of its assets. Advanced technology with a high degree of automation will reduce manning requirements for future ships. Essential core capabilities augmented by mission modules needed for more intense or diverse operational requirements will help to mitigate budgetary restraints. At the same time, the German Navy is seeking to create and exploit synergies through closer partnership and cooperation, in particular with its neighboring navies.
As a high-technology, export-orientated economy in the center of Europe, Germany’s prosperity is vitally dependent on international cooperation, access to markets, and secure trade routes. A constant factor in German strategic interests and foreign policy is its close cooperation within international institutions such as the U.N., EU, and NATO. In this framework, the German Navy is prepared to maintain a continuous contribution to operations, including Active Endeavor and UNIFIL, and EU NAVFOR Atalanta, as well as NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups.