NATONATO Chief Touts Alliance’s New Strategic Concept

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2010 — The new NATO strate­gic con­cept seeks to help the alliance sort through the chal­lenges of the future and dis­cuss where the alliance is going, NATO’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe said here today.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis briefed the Defense Writ­ers Group on the new strate­gic con­cept doc­u­ment, released today, that NATO lead­ers are expect­ed to approve dur­ing the alliance’s Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal, sum­mit in Novem­ber.

The con­cept is the first update since 1999, the admi­ral not­ed. “Obvi­ous­ly, the world has changed,” he said. For­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Madeleine Albright chaired the 12-mem­ber pan­el that devel­oped the con­cept.

The con­cept talks a lot about a com­pre­hen­sive approach that Stavridis described as inter­na­tion­al, inter­a­gency and pri­vate and pub­lic enti­ties com­ing togeth­er to address secu­ri­ty prob­lems. “I believe that we will not deliv­er secu­ri­ty from the bar­rel of a gun as we move for­ward in the 21st cen­tu­ry,” he said.

The alliance has to com­bine the inter­na­tion­al and inter­a­gency efforts, Stavridis not­ed. For exam­ple, he said, the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment has to work with its equiv­a­lent orga­ni­za­tions from oth­er NATO coun­tries.

“I believe secu­ri­ty has to be multi­na­tion­al, and I think it is more than just the mil­i­tary aspect as well,” Stavridis said. “I think we need to encour­age part­ner­ship among dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies, so our devel­op­ment efforts are linked togeth­er inter­na­tion­al­ly, our diplo­mat­ic efforts are linked and our telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions efforts are linked.”

The admi­ral said he believes the alliance is begin­ning to under­stand this need.

“I think the next big thing is public/private,” he said, find­ing ways NATO can help pri­vate-sec­tor orga­ni­za­tions engaged par­tic­u­lar­ly in human­i­tar­i­an and dis­as­ter-relief efforts. Some 2,000 pri­vate-sec­tor orga­ni­za­tions are work­ing in Afghanistan, he added.

The con­cept also rec­om­mends that any deci­sions about nuclear weapons in Europe must be made by the alliance as a whole, and it also rec­om­mends talks with Rus­sia about strate­gic arms. Stavridis said there is a role for nuclear weapons in the alliance, “at least strate­gi­cal­ly and, at the moment, tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons.”

Build­ing a cyber-defense capa­bil­i­ty is a ris­ing need, the admi­ral said. NATO finds itself in the same sit­u­a­tion as the Unit­ed States: hav­ing to define what con­sti­tutes an attack, how to pin­point its ori­gin and how to respond in a pro­por­tion­al man­ner.

The con­cept also calls on chang­ing the way NATO does busi­ness. Stavridis already has start­ed this process, and this dove­tails well with Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ desire to cut over­head in the U.S. Defense Depart­ment.

“I am look­ing to make sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions in staff size and [the num­ber of] flag and gen­er­al offi­cers,” the admi­ral said. “This includes reduc­ing the num­ber of actu­al NATO head­quar­ters. So that is a very strong effort.”

The admi­ral said he thinks this NATO effort can par­al­lel the U.S. effort, and he has instruct­ed his staff to look at where these reduc­tions might come from. “I’m con­fi­dent that we will find some cuts that will be accept­able, because they are ratio­nal,” he said.

Final­ly, com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key to any change in strat­e­gy, Stavridis said. “Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, the future of secu­ri­ty is not kinet­ic,” he said. “We’re very good at launch­ing Tom­a­hawk mis­siles; we’re not very good at launch­ing ideas.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)