The AA will be responsible for the whole process of acquiring new equipment, starting from the analytical phase. Originators of the idea believe this will lead to improving the entire process, and will also lead to need to concentrate communication and lobbying over a shorter period of time. Their final shape and communication stresses will certainly be affected by acceptance of the Technical Modernisation Plan, which will map out modernisation priorities for the Polish army until 2026. This will make possible planning of actions supporting sale and dialogue with the Contracting Party over a longer, few years’ time horizon.
Besides the above mentioned aspects, the change of budgets is a very important issue. According to the budget act adopted in January this year, total funds for asset expenditures of the Defence Ministry will amount to slightly over 12 bln PLN, which means increase by 9,7% y/y (graph 1). So the stake will be higher than in 2018 and, the more so, requires a well thought over and cohesive promotional strategy in sectorial and general information media, making possible to present arguments supporting purchase and development of specific types of equipment. This will also secure positions of companies taking part in the procurement proceedings in case of controversies, as was the case in connection with procedure for acquiring new multi-task helicopters. Thanks to development of a well thought over and cohesive „media track” it is easier to refer to arguments of the opponents, basing on facts presented before any controversies arise.
Account must be taken of the fact that members of parliamentary commissions of both chambers, Sejm and Senate, in the most part have no professional knowledge of technology and military equipment, which is also true about members of parliaments and senators in general. This does not change the fact that they make decisions which are significant for the shape of the Armed Forces and system of military procurements (for example: Armaments Agency is to be founded by way of a parliamentary act). With this in mind, it is worth taking care of day-to-day presence in general information media, used by members of parliament, to present in the most intelligible form various aspects of military technique.
How to lay stresses in communication?
Decision No. 141/MON of the Minister of National Defence dated 5 July 2017 on the system of acquiring, operating and withdrawing military equipment of the Polish Armed Forces (SZRP) lists three categories of needs regarding military equipment – current needs, urgent operational needs and future needs.
- Procedure for acquiring new military equipment for SZRP for future (FN) and current needs (CN)
Complexity of procedures under the FN and CN allows for message diversification depending on the stages of the process.
- Analytical and conceptual phase
Messages regarding technological potential necessary for the offering equipment with specific capacities, meeting potential requirements of SZRP, both in terms of adjusting and developing the already existing constructions and devise new solutions.
Information about progress connected with development of prototypes, concept of constructions and test results (conformity with parameters defined by SZRP).
Information on the signing of agreements and later on the delivery of the lots of equipment to the Contracting Party.
- Procedure for acquiring military equipment under urgent operational needs (UON)
Due to the simplified UON procedure, communication should focus on capacity of the offered equipment and how it would meet current needs of SZRP. Account must be taken of potential controversies resulting from the acceptance of the UON procedure by the Contracting Party, especially if equipment sought was to be originally acquired under the procedure for meeting future and day-to-day needs.
Homar – the langouste series
The project of developing the Homar Artillery Rocket System (ARS) illustrates well complexity of procedures and volatility of assumptions underlying the manner in which to acquire new military equipment from the perspective of a medial discourse. Consideration of those aspects is prerequisite for planning communication and potential crisis communication. Preliminarily the Homar project was to be implemented by consortium with Huta Stalowa Wola (and later Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa) as the leader, with co-participation of a foreign partner, Lockheed Martin. Acquisition of necessary components of the system from the foreign partner was to take place under the DCS – Direct Commercial Sales and FMS – Foreign Military Sales procedures (in case of elements whose sale requires consent of the US government). Talks with consortium were conducted in the years 2015-2018. In July 2018 the polish Ministry of Defence decided to change the procedure for acquiring the ARS, substantiating decision with excessively high price proposed by the consortium. Finally, the first batch (20 launchers) will be acquired under the FMS procedure without participation of Polish companies. The Homar project exemplifies that communication strategy should take into account various scenarios of each project development, including its abandoning in future or change of the procedure for acquiring equipment. Narration strategy is also helpful in the long term perspective, allowing to secure own position in case of a fiasco of the given project.
Military compound not only for the big
Complexity of military equipment causes that most of the development tasks are executed by consortia and with participation of many sub-contractors. They include companies with advanced technologies and which are not widely known (except to groups of experts and journalists from the sectorial media). Coordination of media activities, in the event more companies are working for one project, is the way for smaller players to work into the media area, and also allows to strengthen the message devised by bigger entities. On the other hand. lack of coordinated media strategy may lead to the weakening and „dilution” of media communications (when a number of companies provide simultaneously information on progress connected to one project).
Communication in the armament industry should consider complexity of the equipment acquisition procedures and also army modernisation plans – as opposed to ad hoc communication. According to statements made by the defence Ministry, the project of the new system for acquiring military equipment should shortly see daylight, as well as the new Technical Modernisation Plan. Both the new system of procurement, the most important element of which will be the Armaments Agency, and PMT will be the departing point for the review and potential modification of communication strategies used at present.