The implementation of NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach is a permanent feature of the Alliance’s work. NATO is working to make improvements in several key areas of work including the planning and conduct of operations; lessons learned, training, education and exercises; cooperation with external actors; and public messaging.
Planning and conduct of operations
NATO takes full account of all military and non-military aspects of crisis management, and is working to improve practical cooperation at all levels with all relevant organisations and actors in the planning and conduct of operations. The Alliance promotes the clear definition of strategies and objectives among all relevant actors before launching an operation, as well as enhanced cooperative planning.
The Allies agree that, as a general rule, elements of stabilisation and reconstruction are best undertaken by those actors and organisations that have the relevant expertise, mandate and competence. However, there can be circumstances which may hamper other actors from undertaking these tasks, or undertaking them without support from NATO.
To improve NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach and its ability to contribute, when required, to stabilisation and reconstruction, Allies agreed to form an appropriate but modest civilian capability to interface more effectively with other actors and conduct appropriate planning in crisis management. Moreover, a Comprehensive Approach Specialist Support (COMPASS) programme was set up in 2009 to build up a database of national civil experts in three main fields – political, stabilisation and reconstruction, and media – to be drawn upon for advice at the strategic, operational and theatre levels.
Lessons learned, training, education and exercises
Applying a comprehensive approach means a change of mindset. The Alliance is therefore emphasising joint training of civilian and military personnel. This promotes the sharing of lessons learned and also helps build trust and confidence between NATO, its partners and other international and local actors, which in turn encourages better coordination. In some cases, lessons learned are being developed at staff level with the UN, for example, related to Libya and Kosovo.
NATO also regularly invites international organisations to participate in NATO exercises to share knowledge about Alliance procedures for crisis response as well as share views and perspectives.
Enhancing cooperation with external actors
Achieving lasting mutual understanding, trust, confidence and respect among the relevant organisations and actors will make their respective efforts more effective. Therefore, NATO is actively building closer links and liaison with them on a regular basis while respecting the autonomy of decision making of each organisation.
Cooperation has become well established with the UN, UN agencies, the EU and the OSCE, in particular, as well as with the World Bank, the ICRC, the International Organization for Migration, the AU and the League of Arab States. This takes the form of staff talks, staff-to-staff contacts at various levels, high-level exchanges, ‘NATO education days’ and workshops.
To be effective, a comprehensive approach to crisis management must be complemented by sustained and coherent public messages. NATO’s information campaigns are substantiated by systematic and updated information, documenting progress in relevant areas. Efforts are also being made to share communication strategies with international actors and to coordinate communications in theatre.