NATO Using New Mission Set to Address Southern Flank


Peace, stability and the rule of law are at the heart of security, and the NATO alliance is using a non-traditional effort called NATO Strategic Direction South Hub to encourage this process.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared the organization, also known as the Hub for the South, fully operational following the Brussels Summit July 12. The commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, Navy Adm. James G. Foggo III, said the hub is a “totally different mission set” for the alliance.

The organization was formally established in September. “We are manned for 80 people at the headquarters … and the NATO goal for the Hub for the South is to complete the 360-degree comprehensive approach to security and stability operations,” the admiral said.

NATO has done an excellent job of security operations in Europe’s north and east, where Russia is the prime disturber of the peace, Foggo said.

“The area where we need to continue to work is in the strategic direction south,” he said.

NATO’s Southern Flank

NATO’s southern flank has a different set of dangers. Transnational threats such as terrorism, drug gangs, human traffickers and weapons smugglers take advantage of ungoverned or loosely governed areas in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel to threaten peace inside NATO allies.

Creating stability and security in those regions requires different tools than deterring Russia, and the Hub for the South is designed to provide those tools, officials said. It is the hub of a network of people and organizations dedicated to helping nations on NATO’s southern flank build the infrastructures needed to sustain security, promote the rule of law and encourage economic gains.

The migration of people from North Africa and the Middle East is not a problem in and of itself, Foggo said, but it is a symptom of larger problems throughout the region. Getting at those problems will change the migration dynamic, he said.

“There are other ways to get at this question of governance, rule of law and stability, and that is through the Hub sponsorship of connecting, consulting and coordinating,” the admiral said.

Maximizing Effectiveness

The hub aims to contribute to coordination, synchronization and deconfliction of NATO’s activities across the south, while optimizing resources and maximizing effectiveness, officials said.

Hub personnel examined the drivers of instability in the region and that pointed to what the organization can do to help with governance and rule of law, Foggo said.

“The nations struggling with training of police, military, border security, justice … we can provide them with a non-governmental organization or a state actor that can help build a stronger judiciary that can help provide equitable justice,” he said. “Also, we are trying to connect with a number of different organization on the continent, in Europe and America who want to help.”

Additionally the hub is building awareness of the extent of the problems in the area.

“There is a broad spectrum of think tanks and organizations that understand Africa better than we do, and we are leveraging that,” the admiral said. “Many of these organizations are helping us pro bono. They are interested in what NATO is trying to do.”

People and organizations are beginning to understand the resources of the hub, he said. Still there are some misconceptions.

“A lot of folks think the hub is just about migration: That’s incorrect,” Foggo said. “People migrate from their homes because they don’t feel safe. Our goal is to try to make people feel safer by helping nations, or people, or places have better governance, better rule of law so they can live in peace and have a family, educate their children and have economic prosperity. In some places, … they can’t do that right now because there is lawlessness.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)