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Strategic Concept Will Guide Alliance for Next Decade

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

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.

 

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