ABCD 2019

Disruptive Technologies for Strategic Superiority:

Can the West Win the Defence Technology Race?


*Tentative and subject to change

Tuesday 29 October

19:30-22:00 Welcome Dinner

Welcome by the ICDS, Estonian MOD and ASERA representatives

Wednesday 30 October

08:00-09:00 Registration

09:00-10:30 Opening Session

Introduction and administrative remarks by the organisers

Welcome by Sven Sakkov, Director of ICDS, and Jean-François Coutris, President of ASERA

Opening speech by Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence of Estonia

Keynote speech by Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:30 Session One: The State of Technology

What are the broad technological trends shaping states and their societies, and influencing the conduct of international relations? What is the interplay of these trends and geopolitical shifts in the global order? How are they disrupting the established paradigms of war and warfare? How will they affect national power and military alliances, especially NATO—its effectiveness, political cohesion, decision-making, interoperability and burden sharing? Is the West’s technological edge in military affairs eroding? What are the implications for deterrence in general and NATO’s deterrence function in particular?


Michael Carl Haas, Researcher, Centre for Security Studies (CSS) / ETH Zürich

Martijn Rasser, Senior Fellow, Technology & National Security Program, Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Tomáš Valášek, Director of Carnegie Europe

Dr Bryan Wells, NATO Chief Scientist

Moderator: Kristīne Rudzīte-Stejskala, Director of Logistics & Defence Investments Department, Ministry of Defence of Latvia

12:30-13:45 Lunch

13:45-14:00 Keynote speech

 LtGen John Shanahan, Director of Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, US Department of Defense

14:00-15:40 Session Two: The Case of Autonomy

What challenges to states, societies and the armed forces arise from progress in AI technologies, robotics and machine autonomy? What are the risks and opportunities for the defence sector, and how can those risks best be managed and the opportunities exploited? What are the political, societal, strategic and doctrinal implications of autonomous weapons systems? Who is ahead and who is falling behind in embracing AI- and autonomy-driven transformation in military capabilities, and why? What are NATO’s and EU’s partners and opponents doing in this field? How can small NATO Allies and EU Member States leverage these technologies in their security and defence policies and strategies?


Dr Ulrike Franke, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

Dr Mart Noorma, Science and Development Director, Milrem Robotics

Senior representative of the French Defence Innovation Agency (to be determined)

Moderator: Dr Daniel Fiott, Security & Defence Editor, EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS)

15:40-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:30 Session Three: The Place of Europe

Can Europe become a hot-bed of technological innovation in defence? What can be the main drivers of its ambition as a technological power? What are the main obstacles and constraints, and how can they be mitigated or removed? How can the societal and political concerns in Europe over exploitation of AI, machine learning and autonomous technologies for military purposes be assuaged?  Will the new initiatives and mechanisms in European defence cooperation help in acquiring a leading edge in key disruptive technologies? What more has to be done to future-proof Europe’s defence industrial and technological base, and its military capabilities? Do countries such as the Baltic states have a role to play in this?


Giedrimas Jeglinskas, Vice Minister of National Defence of Lithuania

Janne Kuusela, Director-General of Defence Policy Department, Ministry of Defence of Finland

André Loesekrug-Pietri, Spokesman of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI) Group

Olli Ruutu, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) 

Moderator: Jean-Charles Boulat, Chairman of Economic, Legal and Trade Commission (ELT) of AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe & Treasurer of ASERA

17:30-18:00 Closing Session

Concluding remarks by Kristjan Prikk, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence of Estonia