By Julian Lindley-FrenchIan Brzezinski, Paul Cornish, Karl-Heinz Kamp and Stefano Stefanini. 
28. May 2017  |  Security and Defence

Abstract

This paper establishes the risks, challenges, threats, and indeed opportunities the Adapted Alliance must both contend with and seize if NATO is to ful l its mission to secure and defend the citizens of its twenty-nine nations in the twenty- rst century. Implicit in that ‘challenge’ is a simple truism; the Alliance will only ever ‘adapt’ if the sheer scope and extent of strategic change is properly understood, embraced and acted upon with strategies put in place that render NATO truly t for twenty- rst century purpose. The nature of the changed strategic environment is such that the legitimate use of Allied force and/or in uence has a vital role to play as a deterrent, a defence, and through several forms of tailored engagement. However, if the Adapted Alliance is to be e ective, the European Allies must ease the global burden on the United States and create forces and resources that will enable them to become e ective ‘ rst responders’ in and around Europe. Much of that e ort will fall to the European Union, in partnership with the Alliance, and rest upon a continuum of ambition and e ort between the three pillars of the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept: collective defence, crisis management, and co- operative security. The Alliance needs a Harmel 2.0. 

Executive Summary

Harmel 2.0: Fifty years ago Pierre Harmel presented a report to the Alliance that changed NATO strategy. This paper prepares the ground for what will be, in e ect, a “Harmel 2.0” report which will be published in late 2017. This Interim Report establishes the risks, challenges, threats, and indeed opportunities, the Adapted Alliance must both contend with and seize if NATO is to ful l its mission to secure and defend the citizens of its twenty-nine nations in the twenty- rst century.

The Challenge: Adaptation seeks to establish a credible, 360-degree approach to security and defence in the twenty- rst century. Therefore, Adaptation must also maintain and reinforce the strategic and political cohesion between the Allies, some of which are focussed on the risks and threats to NATO’s east, others on the very di erent, but equally substantial threats to NATO’s south, as well as the growing challenge the Alliance faces to its north.

Global megatrends: A major and implied challenge for Adaptation will be to help future-proof NATO by getting ahead of change-driving megatrends. Alliance members need a better understanding of the speci c challenges and opportunities faced by NATO to establish the extent and scope of the radical change taking place in the strategic environment.

NATO today: The challenge of the Warsaw Summit was to better link political and military requirements with resources, to drive Alliance prioritisation. Therefore, the Alliance sees 2017 as the year for implementing the Warsaw Summit commitments across the con ict spectrum and through the 360-degree threat and risk horizon, as NATO adapts to the ever-changing character of con ict.

The paradox of NATO’s strategic environment: In an age of uncertainty, sound investment is the very commodity that, by promoting security, dilutes and in time banishes uncertainty. Conversely, investment failure, simply by ceding the eld to others, accelerates and exaggerates uncertainty and thus guarantees negative strategic political consequences. Implicit in the global megatrends are change factors that make the need for the Alliance as strong as ever, whilst they erode the power of its pillars – its member nations. Russia is an essentially defensive power, led by a regime in Moscow that, in certain respects, seeks to ‘turn the clock back’ by re-establishing the unquestioned control and power of the state. Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), there has been a dramatic failure of government and governance which has profound implications for the security and defence of the Alliance, particularly those Allies in the south. Climate change and the opening of the so-called ‘Northeast Passage’, along with the discovery of huge hydrocarbon reserves within the Arctic Circle, threaten to turn NATO’s High North into a contested region.

The NATO-EU strategic partnership: The need for a deep and e ective NATO-EU strategic partnership has never been greater. And yet, both NATO and the EU are facing centripetal forces. Indeed, if Brexit leads to profound political split between Britain and many of its European partners then the implications for the Adapted Alliance would be profound.

New Technologies and the Twenty-First Century Character of War: New technologies and advanced science could lead to game-changing breakthroughs in the con ict space by NATO’s adversaries. In the past NATO and its members have tended to enjoy the ‘luxury’ of being able to confront threats in isolation, or at least sequentially, rm in the belief they enjoy comparative technological advantage. Today, that advantage is fast eroding as adversaries and enemies exploit hybrid warfare and prepare for future hyper-war.

Defence Investment: The Alliance needs a clearly established NATO system for identifying common and harmonised equipment requirements. It is vital that increased investment is co-ordinated across the entirety of the requirements identi ed, which in turn must be based on a NATO strategy designed from the outset to meet the threats and challenges posed by a dangerous strategic environment. If not, the additional resources generated by meeting the Defence Investment Plan, and its goal of 2 percent of GDP per annum to be spent on defence, of which 20 percent must be spent on new equipment, would be ine ective.

NATO’s ‘Ten Year Rule’: A step change in Alliance thinking and acting can only come from a better common understanding of NATO’s place in the world. Many Allies do not believe a major war could happen within a decade and are, consequently, unwilling to engage in the kind of ten year plus NATO strategy required to deter, stabilise, engage, and, if needs be, ght a war.

Next steps: The GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative is committed to producing Harmel 2.0 which is scheduled to be released in late 2017 close to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Harmel report. Without such ambition NATO’s adaptation will fall short in a strategic environment that is at best unforgiving, and at worst potentially catastrophic.

Some ages past forgave mediocrity. This is no such age. 

Download the whole paper GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative: One Alliance? Change Drivers in a New Strategic Environment here.