Europe’s defence companies need to “out-manufacture” their enemies if they are to win future wars, Nato’s deputy military chief has said.
Admiral Sir Keith Blount, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told an audience of industry executives at the DSEI defence exhibition that building sufficient arms would have a “huge deterrent value”.
His words come after recent criticism from Estonia’s Defence Minister, who told The National on Tuesday that Europe’s inability to produce ammunition, in particular 155mm artillery ammunition, was harming Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
The UK Royal Navy officer also disclosed that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Nato had formulated secret plans to combat aggression that were more comprehensive than any created since the end of the Cold War.
Given its level of classification, he could not disclose details but he assured the audience that they were “more granular, sophisticated, detailed and ultimately credible than anything the alliance has had since the end of the Cold War”.
They would also replace all other plans and were “far, far better”.
Part of that planning is to have a “tier one” force of 100,000 troops at 10 days’ notice to move in case of any emergency.
The admiral said Nato now has a military strategy, agreed on by all 31 member nations, that regarded Russia and terror groups as the key threats and “maps out the concepts with which we will deal with them”.
But it is the defence industrial base in Western Europe and the US that was key to winning, he said.
“If the strapline is, we can make them faster than we can shoot them and we can shoot them faster than you can shoot them, then we win,” he said.
“The defence industrial capacity, the ability to out-manufacture, stay ahead of the technology curve is a huge deterrent value.
“And the industry partners here own that alongside those of us wearing military uniform.”
He also warned that states such as Russia and China were conducting “mischief in the grey zone” that fell short of triggering a Nato Article Five direct military response.
“These are now happening more frequently and are more different and diverse,” he said.