In 2011, NATO operations continued across three continents. In Afghanistan, greater stability and the beginning of transition characterized 2011. Although Afghanistan constitutes the Alliance’s most significant operational commitment to date, 2011 was marked by the Alliance’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya, which mobilized NATO forces for seven months to protect civilians from attack. Progress in Kosovo was marred by peaks of violence in the north, whereas counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden helped to reduce the pirate attack success rate in 2011. And NATO’s training mission in Iraq was terminated on 31 December 2011 after eight years of operation.
The report highlights the key measures taken by NATO to tackle cyber attacks, to respond to the growing number of countries acquiring ballistic missiles and to counter terrorism. These are among the emerging security challenges that directly threaten the security of NATO’s almost 900 million citizens.
In parallel, the effects of the global financial crisis have accelerated a deep NATO-wide reform process that reflects austerity measures taken in member countries and seeks to modernize the Alliance, making it more efficient and effective. Major institutional reforms of the military command structure, NATO Agencies and NATO Headquarters were actively pursued; while the notion of “smart defence” has been introduced to prioritize NATO’s most pressing capability needs, set targets for forces and assess how and where Allies use their resources to help them ensure maximum value for money.
2011 also saw significant changes in NATO’s partnerships. Consultation and cooperation went beyond traditional formats. The Libya operation included direct partner involvement in decision making for NATO-led military operations and saw consultation and cooperation with the United Nations and the League of Arab States, as well as with Libya and other countries in the region.