NATO supports the development of capabilities and innovative technology that specifically address the threat of terrorism. The aim is to protect troops, civilians and critical infrastructure against attacks perpetrated by terrorists, such as suicide attacks with improvised explosive devices, rocket attacks against aircraft and helicopters and the potential use of weapons of mass destruction.
The Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work
The Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW), which was developed by the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) in 2004, is an important part of measures taken to strengthen the Alliance’s fight against terrorism. The DAT POW primarily focused on technological solutions to mitigate the effects of terrorist attacks but has widened its scope to support comprehensive capability development. Most projects launched under the programme are focused on finding solutions that can be fielded in the short term. Individual NATO countries lead the projects with support and contributions from other member countries (and partner countries in some cases), NATO bodies and other stakeholders. The DAT POW uses new or adapted technologies or methods to detect, disrupt and defeat asymmetric threats under three capability umbrellas: incident management, force protection/survivability, and network engagement.
Countering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats
The spread and potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems and the possibility that terrorists will acquire them are acknowledged as principal threats to the Alliance. Therefore, NATO places a high priority on preventing the proliferation of WMD and defending against CBRN threats and hazards. NATO’s Comprehensive, Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of WMD and Defending against CBRN Threats states that NATO will work actively to prevent the proliferation of WMD by state and non-state actors. The Alliance is determined to ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of Allied populations, including the threat posed by CBRN weapons.
The Combined Joint CBRN Defence Task Force (which consists of a CBRN Defence Battalion and a CBRN Joint Assessment Team) is designed to respond to and manage the consequences of the use of CBRN agents both within and beyond NATO’s area of responsibility. In addition, efforts are underway to establish a NATO CBRN Reach Back capability, providing coordinated, on-demand advice on CBRN threats, risks and hazards to support NATO’s response to WMD proliferation, protection and recovery. The NATO-certified Centre of Excellence on Joint CBRN Defence, in the Czech Republic, further enhances NATO’s capabilities to counter CBRN threats.
Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, NATO increased consultations on terrorism and terrorism-related issues among its members, as well as with non-member countries. Information-sharing and, more specifically, intelligence-sharing are key aspects of this exchange. Over the years, various steps have been taken to improve intelligence-sharing mechanisms and structures, based on decisions taken at the 2002 Prague Summit, the 2004 Istanbul Summit and with the reform of intelligence structures in 2010-2011.
As a result of reform, analysis of intelligence at NATO Headquarters — including of terrorist issues — was enhanced with the creation of the Intelligence Unit, which benefits from the increased sharing of intelligence between member services and the Alliance. Via the Intelligence Unit, analytical approaches to terrorism and its links with other transnational threats have been enhanced, as has cooperation among the NATO civilian and military intelligence components.
Intelligence-sharing between specialised NATO international bodies and partner countries’ agencies has continued, through the Intelligence Liaison Unit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and an intelligence liaison cell at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium.