Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Esther Willett
  • Air Force District of Washington public affairs
NATO’s supreme allied commander introduced new initiatives geared toward re-embracing its mission of collective defense.

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove discussed NATO’s newest plans during the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Sept. 15, here.

“I think the largest changes to NATO in the history of man are going to take effect in the next year to two, and they will set the stage for what our alliance is able to do across the next several decades,” Breedlove said.

Breedlove, who recently attended the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, emphasized the need to adapt NATO’s responsive capabilities in an effort to respond effectively to emerging threats in an unpredictable and potentially volatile security environment.

According to Breedlove, recent events have changed how European nations think about their security, and NATO must be poised to provide defense to sovereign nations.

NATO members aligned on a Readiness Action Plan at the Wale’s Summit earlier this month which promises to strengthen NATO’s collective defense and ensure the Alliance is prepared to address current and future challenges.

“The plan will provide assurance to those nations who felt the most threatened and to provide deterrence to those nations that might threaten the alliance,” Breedlove said.

NATO intends to employ an approach Breedlove referred to as a three-legged stool to ensure collective defense.

“This is to lay out the interconnectedness of the three things we will do to change or adapt NATO in the future,” Breedlove said.

NATO intends to embed a rapid response team within the NATO Response Force capable of deploying in no more than five days. NATO will also empower a core element to plan for and respond to Article 5 violations. Finally, NATO will sustain a forward command and control element in threatened areas which will prepare and allow for the rapid deployment of forces when necessary.

“In these turbulent times NATO must be prepared to undertake the full range of missions and to defend Allies against the full range of threats,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the Wales Summit came to an end. “With the Readiness Action Plan, improved capability and our unique set of partners, NATO is able to act swiftly, decisively and in concert with others ... This is a demonstration of our solidarity and resolve.”

In response to a question from the audience, Breedlove explained how NATO intends to obtain rapid consensus to deploy forces despite its recent increase in size. If we are to have rapidly, reinforcing units, the decision process must not impede progress.

“What we are advocating for is a series of authorities whereby the SACEUR will be able to alert and stage, but not move or employ,” Breedlove said. “Just by starting the clock on alerting and staging we take out a huge waiting period where we allow the political apparatus of NATO to make a decision about deployment and employment.”

Breedlove said he is very pleased with the recent NATO summit and its vision for the future.

“The bottom line is NATO’s mission remains the same,” he said. “Our summit recently was a great embracing of those basic missions that NATO was created for.”