New strategic concept

Q2: At the 60th Anniversary Summit in April 2009 NATO decided to develop a New Strategic Concept within a year. Taking account of the specific strengths and weaknesses of, as well as member state perspectives on, the Transatlantic Alliance, what Strategic Concept would you propose for NATO?


History of institutional survival - ability to live with intramural tensions.

US has huge numbers of well-equipped and capable forces on which Europe can lean.

It has successfully deterred an attack on Western Europe for 60 years.

There is a solid degree of transatlantic security cooperation.

Economic relationship is strong, despite no formal institutions.

Whilst politically in crisis, Military cooperation within NATO normally very good,.


Use of national caveats.

NATO Response Force (NRF) lacks a clear purpose.

Under-investment in 1990s - cashing-in on the 'peace dividend'.

Lack of strategic air and sea lift within European members.

Must be seen to be relevant.

Lack of a clear, shared vision.

Focus still on MCO so equipment is not optimised for PK and stabilisation ops, etc.

NATO is a military alliance and the use of force is not always appropriate.

Lacks widespread international legitimacy of the kind commanded by the UN.

NATO is seen as serving a Western agenda or even a US agenda.

Many international bodies are distrustful of the alliance, not least the UN.

Proposed Strategic Concept

Military capabilities must be coherent with the political purpose of the Alliance.

Expand to fill 'gaps in the market' and 'niche ops'.

Assisting with org and management of HQs in the field.

Coordination of strategic lift capability to facilitate more rapid deployment.

Providing or assisting with logs support, tactical mobility and other specialised units.

Training, mentoring and assistance with security-sector reform.

Providing quick-reaction forces to assist peace operations in force protection.

'The global security environment is changing rapidly. The likely landscape of 2030, as reflected in the multiple futures developed in this project, will see significant disruptions due to high population density, resource depletion, shifting alliances, advances in human ingenuity and technology, and global economic interdependence. Some believe the scale of these changes will be similar to those experienced from 1910 to 1930. These futures present NATO with unprecedented opportunities to influence positively the future environment, and at the same time help ensure that the Alliance is agile and flexible enough to respond to the unpredictable and complex challenges the future will bring.'

The first future is called Dark Side of Exclusivity, and describes how globalization, climate change and resource scarcity significantly affect the capacity of states outside the globalized world to function effectively and meet the needs of their populations. Weak and failed states are sources of instability, and the states of the globalized world are faced with strategic choices on how to react.

The second future, called Deceptive Stability, refers to a world where advanced nations are preoccupied with societal change and how to manage the coming demographic shift as native populations age and young migrants fill the void. States in this world of relative benign stability are preoccupied. They focus inward on social cohesion, legal and illegal migration, and transnational issues related to diasporas. This leaves them ill-prepared to deal with geopolitical risk.

Clash of Modernities, the third future, sketches a world where a strong belief in rationalism, coupled with ingenuity and technological innovation, fuels and promotes horizontal connections between advanced networked societies across the globe. This network is challenged from the outside by authoritarian regimes of the hinterlands, and from within by a precarious balance between civil liberties and oversight by the state.

The fourth future is called New Power Politics, in which growing absolute wealth, including the widespread proliferation of WMD, has increased the number of major powers, between whom there is now a tenuous balance. Globalization through trade integration and internationally agreed standards is undermined as these powers compete for and impede global access to resources and spheres of influence.

Each of the futures provides a backdrop for conceptual analysis. Together they present a canvas on which to evaluate risks, threats, potential strategic surprises, implications and, of course, opportunities.

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