Major General Prof Božidar Forca, Ph.D.

15. 06. 2010

Major General Prof Božidar Forca, Ph.D.
Defence Policy Sector Strategic Planning Department

Science and research work are the driving force of every social activity, including the defence. Hence the attention of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces is turning more and more to planning, realisation and investment in scientific projects, research and development of armament, military equipment and means of defence.

Defence Policy Sector Strategic Planning Department is responsible for scientific and research activities in the defence system, i.e. Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, and in charge of organisation, directing, monitoring and affirming of science and scientific practice. Pointing out that the economic progress of every country is based on continuous improving of scientific activities and exploiting of its results, head of the Strategic Planning Department Major General Prof Božidar Forca, PhD, stressed that the defence, as an integral and very important segment of society, should be based on application of the results of scientific research in all fields of science. Thus the scientific and research work in the field of defence is one of the major tasks of all social structures and science workers and institutions.

– We are aware that the facilities of the scientific research in the armed forces, as well as in the society, have to be coordinated with the economic situation in the country, but that shouldn't be the only criteria in drawing up of this extremely important segment of our development. We shouldn't disregard the operative requirements of the armed forces, as well as the need for a better solution for the status of the military science institutions and personnel. Scientific research as a unique activity in the Serbian defence system, along with education at the advanced military schools, is a significant factor and driving force of the army development, particularly regarding the process of equipping and modernisation.

The Strategic Planning Department, in charge of monitoring and planning of scientific activities and inventions, expert assessment, science personnel advanced studies and international military cooperation in the field of science, undertook, along with the military research institutions and sectors responsible for other significant activities in the defence sector, a series of measures aimed at improvement and establishment of a normative legal frame in its reformation – General Forca stressed.

In that context, a significant role has been given to the Scientific Research Committee, an expert and advisory body dealing with significant issues in the defence system, formed two years ago. Its members are prominent research workers and affirmed experts in the field of defence science. They are, among other things, working on accreditation and registration of the research institutes, discussing measures for solving a number of problems, preparing reviews of the main projects in the field of research...

Fresh research personnel

In the middle of 2009, the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces passed the Military Research Activities Strategic Directives introducing the use of available and newly created local knowledge and transfer of highly sophisticated technologies as key factors of the defence system development. Carrying out of the ambitiously conceived goals is still hindered, apart form chronic lack of money, by constantly decreasing number of young and perspective experts in the defence system. Although the research workers in the Armed Forces were so far scarcely mentioned and the activities of the military research institutes have been wrapped in the cloak of mystery, we know that they employ engineers from the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics, information science, geodesy, as well as experts in mathematics, physics, chemistry, technology, medicine and social sciences. We know that they are working on armament and military equipment development and modernisation and carrying out research in the field of defence technologies, military and medical science significant to defence. But most people don't know that the number of experts is constantly decreasing in the military research institutes, year after year. In 2004, there were 963 researchers and education workers, and last year only 385.

– Human resources are the key of every system, there is no doubt about it. Not so long ago, military research institutes employed the best students, officers and experts, who were regularly awarded for the outstanding work on significant projects. Today, they are somewhat neglected. The situation in the army is similar to the one in society. Research activities need to be developed if we want to keep the number of personnel, and development is not possible without knowledge and education. In this two-way chain, experts are the key to many problems. Money can be provided, as well as other resources, but you cannot acquire personnel over night – it takes time to be created - General Forca said and added that the price of intellectual work is well known and that people would, naturally, seek better paid jobs.

– In the last couple of years, the army has made efforts to make research work and possibilities for progress in the field of research more attractive to the young experts. A cadet interested in research work should know that the PhD in defence system equals holding the rank of a general, which means he's entitled to equal status, salary. He could even be considered to have a better position since he has the opportunity to change his position in society. We are aware that military research work should be stimulated and adequately evaluated. First of all, for the sake of defence system development and army, as well as science and society reinforcement - General Forca emphasized.

Numerous weak spots in the current position of the research personnel in the defence system cannot be removed without a broader support of the country. Apart from inadequate salaries causing a great number of experts to leave the army for civil research and educational institutes, the institute has had insufficient number of personnel as well as experts, and failed to reach a long-term programme for acquisition of fresh personnel. This all led to the fact that presently the army has only a few researchers under 30 years of age. It made the committee react and dedicate a meeting to this problem.

Research activities in the defence system are facing numerous difficulties, mostly inherited from the past. One of the key problems is its isolation from the research activities in Serbia.

– Only this year, by the adoption of the Serbian Act on Scientific Research, conditions have been created for them to be integrated in the field of national science. The research activities are burdened by complex and long planning procedures, scheduling of projects and slow acquisition processes. Annual financial resources set aside for research are insufficient for science to influence the development of the defence system. Last year's research budget amounted to 0,42 percent of the entire defence budget, while not so long ago it used to amount to three percent - General Forca noticed and added that one of the main goals of the Strategic directives to increase the assets set aside for research at the rate of 40 percent.

– Our goal is that the budget reaches two percent of the entire defence system financial resources. It is one of necessary conditions for development of science in the defence system and implementation of very ambitious goals in that field - General Forca believes.

One of them is the integration of military research activities in the Serbian research system and accreditation of the Ministry of Defence research institutes, made possible by the adoption of the Amendments to the Act on Scientific Research in March this year. The above mentioned act included the specifics of defence related to meeting essential and formal requirements for accreditation. One of the regulations addresses the issue of titles acquired according to the Act on military schools and research institutes and allows them to be kept throughout the entire period.

– This surpasses the problem of verification of scientific titles acquired in the defence Ministry and the Armed Forces - head of the Scientific Research and Inventive Activities Department Colonel Obrad Čabarkapa, PhD, said, adding that the Amendments to the Act on Scientific Research established that the National Committee for Scientific and Technological Development should include a member with the title of scientific advisor or professor of a military research institute.

Increasing importance of innovation

Due to constant improvement of technology and the fact that the armament and military equipment are developing fast, as well as the unfavourable economic situation in the country, scientific research has turned its attention to invention, i.e. improvement of existing means thus increasing their efficiency, as well as their life.

According to the 2002 reports, three quarters of the Serbian innovators belonged to the defence system and one quarter were civilian. At the end of 2005 the ratio was almost equal with a tendency of decreasing number of defence system innovators. In the last ten years, approximately 20 innovations get registered in twelve months.

– The protection of an innovation is carried out in keeping with the Patent Law - Colonel Čabarkapa said. Apart from the above mentioned law, the inventive activities are regulated by the Decree and Regulations which establish moral and property rights of the inventor and criteria for establishing the fee and ways and period of payment.

The Strategic Planning Department cooperates with Serbian and Belgrade chambers of commerce, Belgrade Inventors Association and Intellectual Property Institute.

One of the missions, defined by the Strategic Directives is development and improvement of international cooperation in the field, which includes participation of research workers in the international research projects significant to the defence, advance training of personnel and introduction of highly sophisticated technologies in our research institutes. The Defence Ministry is also taking part in the NATO's activities related to research and technology.

– Military research and education institutions are also closely cooperating with the research and education institutes in the country and abroad - General Forca said. During 2009 the Military Technological Institute laboratories have been visited by 22 delegations from 16 countries (Slovenia, Italy, Turkey, Libya, Vietnam, France, Russia, Bulgaria, USA, China, Switzerland...). All of these countries are interested in cooperation in the field of armament and military equipment research and development. The Military technical Institute organised nine delegation visits abroad. The Institute also organised master studies for the members of the Algerian Armed Forces.

Military research institutes are also cooperating with a number of universities, institutes and other organisations, among which the Faculty of Security Studies, University of Political Sciences, Comparative Law and International Economy Institute, Centre for Civil-military Relations in Belgrade, OSCE Mission in Serbia etc. Military Medical Academy is closely cooperating with the research and education institutes in the country, among which the medical schools in Kragujevac, Niš and Novi Sad, Belgrade School of Pharmacy and School of Veterinary Medicine. In the field of international cooperation, we should mention the cooperation with the Czech Republic Defence University Medical School and the Norwegian Defence Ministry, whose contingent in Chad also includes the members of the Military Medical Academy.

Military Geographic Institute also cooperates with the institutions with the similar field of work, among which the School of Civil Engineering in Belgrade, a number of schools of geography in Serbia, Faculty of Science and Technology in Novi Sad and the Serbian Institute of Geodesy. During 2009, the delegation of the Military Geographic Institute visited similar institutes in Bulgaria and Hungary. An agreement on cooperation is expected to be signed with the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dušan GLIŠIĆ - "Odbrana" No. 114, June 15th 2010

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