In concrete terms, defence planning at NATO encompasses many different domains: force, resource, armaments, logistics, nuclear, C3 (consultation, command and control), civil emergency, air defence, air traffic management, standardization, intelligence, medical support and research and technology.
Force planning aims to promote the availability of national forces and capabilities for the full range of Alliance missions. In practical terms, it seeks to ensure that Allies develop modern, deployable, sustainable and interoperable forces and capabilities, which can undertake demanding operations wherever required, including being able to operate abroad with limited or no support from the country of destination. However, force planning should not be understood to refer primarily to “forces”; the focus is on “capabilities” and, how best nations should organise their priorities to optimise these. Therefore force planning also addresses capability areas that are also covered by single-area specific planning domains.
The term “force planning” has often been used interchangeably with “defence planning” and “operational planning”. Defence planning is a much broader term and operational planning is conducted for specific, NATO-agreed operations.
The Defence Policy and Planning Committee
The Defence Policy and Planning Committee (DPPC) oversees the force planning process. It is the senior decision-making body on matters relating to the integrated military structure of the Alliance. It reports directly to the North Atlantic Council (NAC), provides guidance to NATO's military authorities and, in its reinforced format, oversees the defence planning process, of which force planning is a constituent activity.
The large majority of NATO resources are national. NATO resource planning aims to provide the Alliance with the capabilities it needs, but focuses on the elements that are jointly or commonly funded, that is to say where members pool resources within a NATO framework. In this regard, resource planning is closely linked to operational planning, which aims to ensure that the Alliance can fulfill its present and future operational commitments and fight new threats such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
There is a distinction to be made between joint funding and common funding: joint funding covers activities managed by NATO agencies, such as the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and NATO pipelines; common funding involves three different budgets: the civil budget, the military budget, and the NATO Security Investment Programme.
Relatively speaking, these budgets represent a small amount of money, but they are key for the cohesion of the Alliance and the integration of capabilities.
The Resource Policy and Planning Board
The Resource Policy and Planning Board (RPPB) is the senior advisory body to the North Atlantic Council on the management of all NATO resources. It has responsibility for the overall management of NATO’s civil and military budgets, as well as the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP) and manpower.
Armaments planning focuses on the development of multinational (but not common-funded) armaments programmes. It promotes cost-effective acquisition, co-operative development and the production of armaments. It also encourages interoperability, and technological and industrial co-operation among Allies and Partners.
The Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD)
The Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) is the senior NATO committee responsible for Alliance armaments cooperation, material standardization and defence procurement. It brings together the top officials responsible for defence procurement in NATO member and Partner countries to consider the political, economic and technical aspects of the development and procurement of equipment for NATO forces, with the aim of arriving at common solutions.
Logistics planning in NATO aims at ensuring responsive and usable logistics support to NATO operations. This is achieved by promoting the development of military and civil logistics capabilities and multinational cooperation in logistics.
The Logistics Committee
The Logistics Committee is the senior advisory body on logistics at NATO. Its overall mandate is two-fold: to address consumer logistics matters with a view to enhancing the performance, efficiency, sustainability and combat effectiveness of Alliance forces; and to exercise, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, an overarching coordinating authority across the whole spectrum of logistics functions within NATO.
The aim of nuclear policy and planning is to promote the maintenance of a credible nuclear deterrent and force posture, which meets the requirements of the current and foreseeable security environment.
Nuclear planning must ensure that the Alliance's nuclear posture is perceived as a credible and effective element of NATO's strategy of war prevention. As such, its overall goal is to ensure security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces.
NATO has developed an adaptive nuclear planning capability. Accordingly, nuclear forces are not directed towards a specific threat nor do they target or hold at risk any country. In addition, the formulation of the Alliance’s nuclear policy involves all NATO countries (except France), including non-nuclear Allies.
The Nuclear Planning Group
The Nuclear Planning Group takes decisions on the Alliance’s nuclear policy, which is kept under constant review and modified or adapted in light of new developments.
The effective performance of NATO's political and military functions requires the widespread utilization of both NATO and national Consultation, Command and Control (C3) systems, services and facilities, supported by appropriate personnel and NATO-agreed doctrine, organizations and procedures.
C3 systems include communications, information, navigation and identification systems as well as sensor and warning installation systems, designed and operated in a networked and integrated form to meet the needs of NATO. Individual C3 systems may be provided by NATO via common funded programmes or by members via national, multi-national or joint-funded co-operative programmes.
C3 planning is responsive to requirements, as and when they appear, so there is no established C3 planning cycle. However, activities are harmonized with the cycles of the other associated planning disciplines where they exist.
The Consultation, Command and Control (C3) Board
The Consultation, Command and Control Board is a senior multinational body acting on behalf of and responsible to the NAC on all matters relating to C3 issues throughout the Organization. This includes interoperability of NATO and national C3 systems, as well as advising the CNAD on C3 cooperative programmes.
Civil emergency planning
Civil emergency planning in NATO aims to collect, analyse and share information on national planning activity to ensure the most effective use of civil resources for use during emergency situations, in accordance with Alliance objectives. It enables Allies and Partners to assist each other in preparing for and dealing with the consequences of crisis, disaster or conflict.
The Civil Emergency Planning Committee
The Civil Emergency Planning Committee is the top advisory body for the protection of civilian populations and the use of civil resources in support of NATO objectives.
Air defence planning
Air defence planning enables members to harmonize national efforts with international planning related to air command and control and air defence weapons. NATO integrated air defence (NATINAD) is a network of interconnected systems and measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action. A NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme has been initiated to enhance the existing NATINAD system, particularly against theatre ballistic missiles.
The Air Defence Committee (ADC)
The Air Defence Committee advises the North Atlantic Council and the relevant Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council bodies on all elements of air defence, including missile defence and relevant air power aspects. It promotes harmonization of national efforts with international planning related to air command and control and air defence weapons.
Air Traffic management
NATO's role in civil-military air traffic management is to ensure, in cooperation with other international organizations, safe access to airspace, effective delivery of services and civil-military interoperability for air operations conducted in support of the Alliance's security tasks and missions while minimizing disruption to civil aviation, already constrained by the limited capacity of systems and airports, and mitigating the cost implications of new civil technologies on defence budgets.
The Air Traffic Management Committee (ATMC)
The ATMC is the senior civil-military advisory body to the NAC for airspace use and air traffic management. The committee’s mission is to develop, represent and promote NATO’s view on matters related to safe and expeditious air operations in the airspace of NATO areas of responsibility and interest.
At NATO, standardization is the process of developing shared concepts, doctrines, procedures and designs to achieve and maintain the most effective levels of “compatibility, interchangeability and commonality” in operations, procedures, materials, technology and administration. The primary products of this process are Standardization Agreements (STANAGS) between member countries.
The Committee for Standardization
The Committee for Standardization is the senior authority of the Alliance responsible for providing coordinated advice to the NAC on overall standardization issues.
Intelligence plays an important role in the defence planning process, in particular with the emergence of multidirectional and multidimensional security challenges such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as strategic warning and assessment capacity for NATO are essential to ensure maximum warning and preparation time to counter military and terrorist attacks. Intelligence sets out the requirements for the improved provision, exchange and analysis of all-source political, economic, security and military intelligence, and closer coordination of the intelligence producers within the Alliance.
The Intelligence Steering Board
The Intelligence Steering Board acts as an inter-service coordination body responsible for steering intelligence activities involving the International Staff and the International Military Staff and for providing effective support to the decision-making process at NATO Headquarters. It is tasked, among others, with developing the Strategic Intelligence Requirements from which any capability requirements are derived.
The Military Intelligence Committee
It is responsible for developing a work plan in particular in the areas of NATO Intelligence Support to Operations and oversight of policy guidance on military intelligence.
Medical support is normally a national responsibility, however planning needs to be flexible to consider multinational approaches. The degree of multinationality varies according to the circumstances of the mission and the willingness of countries to participate.
The Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS)
COMEDS is composed of the senior military medical authorities of member countries. It acts as the central point for the development and coordination of military medical matters and for providing medical advice to the Military Committee.
Research and Technology
NATO promotes and conducts cooperative research and information exchange to support the effective use of national defence research and technology and further the military needs of the Alliance.
The Research and Technology Board (RTB)
The RTB is an integrated NATO body responsible for defence research and technological development. It provides advice and assistance to the CNAD, as well as to the Military Committee. It coordinates research and technology policy in different NATO bodies and is supported by a specialized NATO Research and Technology Agency.