NATO conducts a number of operations that support the fight against terrorism. The Alliance can also provide assistance in securing major public events and in managing the consequences of attacks.
Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) is a maritime surveillance operation led by NATO’s naval forces to detect, deter and protect against terrorist activity in the Mediterranean through monitoring, patrolling, escorting and compliant boarding. Launched in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, it is currently NATO’s only counter-terrorism operation. Over the years, OAE has transitioned from a platform-based to a network-based operation, using a combination of on-call units and surge operations instead of deployed forces, and cooperation with non-NATO countries and international organisations to improve maritime situational awareness.
The NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, while not a counter-terrorism operation as such, is helping to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for international terrorism by assisting the government of Afghanistan in expanding its authority and implementing security.
Securing major public events
NATO can provide assistance in promoting the security of major public events that might attract the interest of terrorists, at the request of the government concerned. It can deploy capabilities such as the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft or elements of the multinational Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence Battalion. The Alliance has assisted high-visibility events such as NATO Summits and ministerial meetings, as well as sporting events like the Athens Olympic Games and the European Football Championship held in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
Managing the consequences of terrorist attacks
Consequence management involves reactive measures to mitigate the destructive effects of terrorist attacks, incidents and natural disasters. Activities in this area, along with the protection of populations and critical infrastructure, are primarily a national responsibility. However, NATO supports countries in several ways, notably by serving as a forum where response-planning can be coordinated among countries, therefore improving crisis preparedness.
Protecting populations and infrastructure
A Civil Emergency Planning Action Plan for the protection of populations against the effects of weapons of mass destruction was adopted at the Prague Summit in 2002. Aimed at improving preparedness and interoperability between countries, this led to the development of non-binding guidelines and minimum standards for first responders regarding planning, training, procedures and equipment for incidents involving CBRN agents. Treatment protocols for casualties following a CBRN attack have been drawn up and, more generally, coordination mechanisms for medical evacuation capabilities and for transporting victims to facilities in other countries have been defined. Providing timely information to the public is also a key component of consequence management, so NATO has developed guidelines for use by countries in this field to ensure that coordinated warnings are given.
The role of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre
Under the auspices of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), Allies have established an inventory of national civil and military capabilities that could be made available to assist stricken countries – both member and partner countries – following a CBRN terrorist attack. Originally created in 1998 to coordinate responses to natural and man-made disasters, the EADRCC has since 2001 been given an additional coordinating role for responses to potential terrorist acts involving CBRN agents. The Centre has a standing mandate to respond to a national request for assistance in the event of a terrorist attack using CBRN agents. It organises major international field exercises to practise responses to simulated disaster situations and consequence management.
NATO Crisis Management System
The NATO Crisis Management System provides a structured array of pre-identified political, military and civilian measures to be implemented by individual states and NATO in response to various crisis scenarios. This system provides the Alliance with a comprehensive set of options and measures to manage and respond to crises appropriately. Specific Civil Emergency Planning Crisis Management Arrangements define the roles of the Civil Emergency Planning Committee, the Planning Groups, the EADRCC and the use of civil experts during times of crisis.
Network of civil experts
To support NATO’s work, a network of 380 civil experts located across the Euro-Atlantic area has been built based on specific areas of expertise frequently required. Their expertise covers all civil aspects relevant to NATO planning and operations, including crisis management, consequence management and critical infrastructure protection. Drawn from government and industry, experts participate in training and exercises, and respond to requests for assistance.