Partnering for protection
Raytheon's John Harris looks ahead to the Munich Security Conference
The annual Munich Security Conference attracts heads of state, defense ministers, policy experts and other officials from around the world to discuss security challenges. John Harris, Raytheon’s vice president of Business Development and CEO of Raytheon International, is returning to this year’s event, held Feb. 16-19 in its namesake city. In the following conversation, Harris previews the conference and discusses Raytheon’s role in helping to meet the challenges faced by our trans-Atlantic allies.
Q: What is Raytheon’s top message to share with Munich attendees?
JH: First and foremost, we will remain a vibrant and trusted resource. Our commitment to collaboration will be an ongoing theme at this event, because we are so keenly interested in continuing to build on our strong relationships in Europe including Germany, Romania, Sweden and Poland; in building strong partnerships with the likes of Rheinmetall, Kongsberg of Norway; and in broadening those relationships with the view of: Together, we’re significantly better.
Q: What do you think will be the big themes discussed at Munich this year?
JH: I think a common theme will be how allies continue to leverage expertise, investments and systems so they can operate freely together.
The Europeans are very concerned about the re-emergence of Russia. They’re very concerned about terrorism from state and non-state actors, border security, air defense, and fundamentally protecting their sovereignty. So issues like missile defense will be a priority.
From the Middle East, there will be lots of discussion around Syria, Iran, Yemen, and the path forward there.
You’ll hear a lot from Southeast Asia about the challenge with respect to ballistic missiles. There will be talk about protection of sovereignty in light of the ongoing actions of the Chinese and the disputed islands.
And you’ll hear from Australia about the importance of ballistic missile defense, given the likelihood now being in harms’ way as a strong and reliable partner with the United States.
Q: Do you get a sense of how the new U.S. National Defense Strategy will be received by our trans-Atlantic partners?
JH: We see a renewed (U.S.) interest in making sure our allies have access to the very best in technology. That is viewed positively by U.S. allies. They are very much encouraged by the prospect of continuing to grow relationships and share technology.
By being connected, they can leverage our information, we can leverage theirs, and therefore we can make much more informed decisions. Certainly the speed of those decisions can be even greater. So interoperability becomes even more important.
Q: Is that because we face adversaries together, not one-on-one?
JH: We recognize the importance of working together with complementary efficient and combat-proven systems. It’s having the same kind of training, the same kind of capacity, but also the greater levels of connectivity so we can share in resources. (That will allow us) to fulfill some of the principles that formed the basis of NATO 60-plus years ago, where you’re not going against one nation, you’re going against an entire organization.
Q: Raytheon has a number of existing partnerships in Europe, including Kongsberg and Rheinmetall. What value do those kinds of partnerships bring to both sides?
JH: I would say it’s netting together complementary capabilities. Kongsberg is an example of a strong and long-term relationship that has grown over decades. We are able to offer our capabilities to more nations by combining our market access points.
Take Rheinmetall: They’ve made investments in certain areas of short-range air defense and command and control that we can leverage. Rheinmetall can (also) leverage our capabilities in intermediate, strategic defense systems. By combining those two, we have the opportunity to create solutions that address the entire bandwidth of threats.
Q: Any final thoughts on Munich?
JH: I appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with customers and partners from around the world and to take the time to understand what’s going on. And for them to get a sense of what we’re doing differently and how we might partner together to help make the world a safer place.