NATO — Strategic Concept Will Guide Alliance for Next Decade

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2010 — The new NATO Strate­gic Con­cept adopt­ed by alliance lead­ers at the Lis­bon Sum­mit yes­ter­day takes the lessons of the Balka­ns and Afghanistan and joins them with the core val­ues of the pact.
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and the lead­ers of the 27 oth­er NATO nations approved the new con­cept dur­ing sum­mit meet­ings yes­ter­day. The con­cept will serve as the guide for alliance lead­ers for the decade ahead.

The NATO nations agreed in the doc­u­ment to devel­op mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ty to pro­tect all NATO Euro­pean pop­u­la­tions, ter­ri­to­ry and forces. The alliance also invit­ed Rus­sia to coop­er­ate.

The threat is real with more than 30 nations around the world work­ing on bal­lis­tic mis­siles, said NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen. Some of those mis­siles already have the range to hit parts of Europe.

The Strate­gic Con­cept encom­pass­es more than mis­sile defense. It adheres to the basic tenets of the alliance when it was formed in 1949. The alliance mem­bers still pledge to defend its mem­bers against the full range of threats, and Arti­cle 5 — an attack on one mem­ber nation is treat­ed as an attack on all — still stands.

The expe­ri­ences of the alliance since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been instruc­tive. NATO will work to improve its abil­i­ty to man­age crises and will enhance its abil­i­ty to work with oth­er inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions and non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions.

The pre-emi­nent mil­i­tary alliance in the world will work to become “more agile, more capa­ble and more cost-effec­tive, and it will con­tin­ue to serve as an essen­tial instru­ment for peace,” accord­ing to the Lis­bon Sum­mit Dec­la­ra­tion released today.

NATO allies have learned through expe­ri­ence com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism that a whole-of-gov­ern­ment approach is the only way to defeat insur­gents, and the con­cept calls on the alliance to devel­op this inclu­sive approach. The alliance also will put togeth­er a “mod­est civil­ian cri­sis man­age­ment capa­bil­i­ty” that will work with mil­i­tary forces as need­ed. The alliance also is address­ing new threats with lead­ers agree­ing to enhance alliance cyber defense capa­bil­i­ties. This fol­lows the U.S. estab­lish­ment of Cyber Com­mand at Fort Meade, Md., ear­li­er this year.

NATO under­stands cyber attacks are becom­ing more fre­quent, more orga­nized and more cost­ly. Many attacks are aimed at mil­i­tary net­works, but the alliance also depends on civil­ian infra­struc­ture. The attacks also have the poten­tial to inflict dam­age on busi­ness­es, economies and poten­tial­ly also trans­porta­tion and sup­ply net­works and oth­er crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture.

“They can reach a thresh­old that threat­ens nation­al and Euro-Atlantic pros­per­i­ty, secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty,” the state­ment says. “For­eign mil­i­taries and intel­li­gence ser­vices, orga­nized crim­i­nals, ter­ror­ist and/or extrem­ist groups can each be the source of such attacks.”

NATO still has a Cold War hang­over, and many of the struc­tures put in place to con­front the Sovi­et Union are still part of the com­mand struc­ture. Under the Strate­gic Con­cept, the lead­ers direct­ed imple­ment­ing “a more effec­tive, lean­er and afford­able alliance com­mand struc­ture, and the con­sol­i­da­tion of the NATO agen­cies.” They tasked the sec­re­tary gen­er­al and the North Atlantic Coun­cil to act on the reforms with­out delay.

The alliance also is look­ing at the effects that new tech­nolo­gies will have. These include, but are not lim­it­ed to, laser tech­nolo­gies, elec­tron­ic war­fare tech­nolo­gies and anti-access tech­nolo­gies. These may be poised to “have major glob­al effects that will impact on NATO mil­i­tary plan­ning and oper­a­tions,” accord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

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

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