Short-term and critical capability shortfalls that arise on operations are tackled through a mechanism whereby urgent operational requirements are raised by the operational commands, scrutinised by the Military Committee and relevant budget committees and put to the North Atlantic Council for consideration as need be.
Defence planning, on the other hand, takes a more systematic approach and has a medium and longer-term perspective, including with respect to identifying requirements, the development and delivery of capabilities, the adjustment of military and civilian structures, personnel issues, equipment procurement and the development of new technologies (see below a brief description of the process).
With the adoption of a new Strategic Concept, Alliance leaders committed to ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of Allies populations. Therefore the Alliance will:
- maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces;
- maintain the ability to sustain concurrent major joint operations and several smaller operations for collective defence and crisis response, including at strategic distance;
- develop and maintain robust, mobile and deployable conventional forces to carry out both our Article 5 responsibilities and the Alliance’s expeditionary operations, including with the NATO Response Force;
- carry out the necessary training, exercises, contingency planning and information exchange for assuring our defence against the full range of conventional and emerging security challenges, and provide appropriate visible assurance and reinforcement for all Allies;
- ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defence planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control and consultation arrangements;
- develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence, which contributes to the indivisible security of the Alliance;
- actively seek cooperation on missile defence with Russia and other Euro-Atlantic partners;
- further develop NATO’s capacity to defend against the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction;
- develop further our ability to prevent, detect, defend against and recover from cyber-attacks, including by using the NATO planning process to enhance and coordinate national cyber-defence capabilities, bringing all NATO bodies under centralized cyber protection, and better integrating NATO cyber awareness, warning and response with member nations;
- enhance the capacity to detect and defend against international terrorism, including through enhanced analysis of the threat, more consultations with our partners, and the development of appropriate military capabilities, including to help train local forces to fight terrorism themselves;
- develop the capacity to contribute to energy security, including protection of critical energy infrastructure and transit areas and lines, cooperation with partners, and consultations among Allies on the basis of strategic assessments and contingency planning;
- ensure that the Alliance is at the front edge in assessing the security impact of emerging technologies, and that military planning takes the potential threats into account;
- sustain the necessary levels of defence spending, so that our armed forces are sufficiently resourced;
- continue to review NATO’s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats to the Alliance, taking into account changes to the evolving international security environment.
Reforming the command structure
The Alliance is fundamentally restructuring its command structure to ensure that it is more effective, leaner and affordable. It will also be more agile, flexible and better able to deploy headquarters for remote operations as well as to protect Alliance territory. A framework for the new structure, without geographic locations for the various facilities, was agreed at the Summit meeting in Lisbon, 19-20 November 2010. Decisions on the locations themselves followed in the first half of 2011. The transition to the new structure will commence late in 2012.
In the same spirit, a major reform of NATO’s agencies is being conducted. In July 2012 a major milestone in the reform process was achieved, with the establishment of four new NATO Organisations, to rationalise and consolidate functions and responsibilities of nine NATO Agencies related to Support, Communications and Information, Procurement, and Science and Technology. NATO Headquarters has also been reforme.d, including with regard to intelligence-sharing and production, the establishment of a Division responsible for emerging security challenges, a review of multinational acquisition processes, and a significant reduction in the number and responsibilities of committees.
NATO Forces in 2020 and beyond
The vision for NATO Forces in 2020 and beyond is one of modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment.
Fundamental to achieving this goal will be improvements in the way NATO develops and delivers the capabilities NATO’s missions require. In addition to essential national efforts and existing, proven forms of multinational cooperation such as in the areas of strategic airlift and airborne warning and control, new ways must be found to cooperate more closely to acquire and maintain key capabilities, prioritise on what is needed most and consult on changes to national defence plans. NATO should also deepen the connections among the Allies and between them and partners on the basis of mutual benefit. Maintaining a strong defence industry in Europe and making the fullest possible use of the potential of defence industrial cooperation across the Alliance remain an essential condition for delivering the capabilities needed for 2020 and beyond.
Smart Defence is at the heart of this new approach. The development and deployment of defence capabilities is first and foremost a national responsibility. But as technology grows more expensive, and defence budgets are under pressure, there are key capabilities which many Allies can only obtain if they work together to develop and acquire them. The decisions of Allies to take forward specific multinational projects, including for better protection of troops, better surveillance and better training announced in Chicago will enhance NATO’s ability to meet the challenges faced in 2020 and beyond. These projects will deliver improved operational effectiveness, economies of scale, and closer connections between Allied forces.
Smart Defence represents a changed outlook, the opportunity for a renewed culture of cooperation in which multinational collaboration is given new prominence as an effective and efficient option for developing critical capabilities.
Developing greater European military capabilities will strengthen the transatlantic link, enhance the security of all Allies and foster an equitable sharing of the burdens, benefits and responsibilities of Alliance membership. In this context, NATO will work closely with the European Union, utilising agreed mechanisms, to ensure that Smart Defence and the EU's Pooling and Sharing Initiative are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
NATO is also taking steps to enhance the linkages between its forces, and with partner countries as well. The NATO operation over Libya showed once again the importance of such connections; as soon as the political decision was taken to initiate the NATO mission, Alliance pilots were flying wing to wing with each other, and with pilots from non-NATO European and Arab partner countries. That was essential to the military and political success of the mission. The aim is to build on that success through the Connected Forces Initiative. NATO will expand education and training of personnel, complementing in this way essential national efforts. Exercises will be enhanced. The bonds between the NATO Command Structure, the NATO Force Structure, and national headquarters will be strengthened. The NATO Response Force will be strengthened, so that it can play a greater role in enhancing the ability of Alliance forces to operate together and to contribute to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture. As much as possible, NATO will also step up connections with Partners, so that all can act together, when desired.
In Chicago, Allies adopted a Defence Package that will help NATO develop and deliver the capabilities Alliance missions and operations require in 2020 and beyond.
Prioritizing capabilities – the Lisbon Capabilities Package
At the Lisbon Summit, recognising the economic and fiscal climate, Allies endoprsed a package of Capabilities representing the Alliance’s most pressing capability needs. The package goes hand in hand with and underpins the new Strategic Concept. It was developed to help the Alliance meet the demands of ongoing operations, face emerging challenges and acquire key enabling capabilities. The package is based largely on existing plans and programmes and a realistic projection of resources. It therefore provides a renewed focus and mandate to ensure that in the competition for resources, these, the most urgent capabilities, are delivered.
Current priority shortfalls for operations
Afghan Mission Network
NATO is creating a single federated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) network to improve information sharing by easing the information flow and creating better situational awareness among countries participating in ISAF operations. The capability continues to be developed in an incremental fashion with additional functionality being added each year.
Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)
IEDs are the cause of many casualties in Afghanistan. NATO has launched an ambitious Counter-IED Action Plan, led by Allied Command Transformation, fostering collaboration inside and outside NATO. The Action Plan combines short-term measures in support of ISAF with long-term capability development for future contingencies. Work is ongoing at different levels (including initiatives to collate and share intelligence, improved training, new technical capabilities and cooperation with other international organizations) to implement measures that will help protect troops against IEDs and address the insurgent networks behind these destructive devices.
Improving air- and sea-lift capabilities
Air-and sea-lift capabilities are a key enabler for operations – so that forces and equipment can be deployed quickly to wherever they are needed. While there is significant ongoing procurement at a national level, many Allies have also pooled resources, including with Partner countries, to acquire new capacities through commercial arrangements or through purchase, giving them access to additional transport to swiftly move troops, equipment and supplies across the globe. This is particularly challenging and important with regard to missions at strategic distance, such as Afghanistan. Helicopter lift in Afghanistan is vital, to increase mobility and save lives; multinational cooperation on maintenance and logistics is bringing additional efficiency on some types operated by more than one Ally. Efforts continue to find further areas of cooperation, including in the context of the HIP Helicopter Task Force.
Collective Logistics Contracts
To improve effectiveness, NATO is examining procedures for the development and administration of rapidly usable contracts, including for medical support, with repayment by countries when used. Now, logistics contracts are negotiated and implemented when an operation starts; this initiative proposes to launch procedures in advance to save time and seek synergy with and between contributing countries and NATO to serve personnel in the field more rapidly. The initiative focuses on areas where collective responsibility and common funding are concerned.
Dealing with evolving and emerging threats
In the context of a broader response to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, NATO is pursuing a “Theatre” Missile Defence Programme aimed at protecting deployed Alliance forces against ballistic missile threats with ranges up to 3,000 kilometres. The Alliance has an interim capability to protect troops in a specific area against short-range and some medium-range ballistic missiles.
At the Lisbon Summit, NATO leaders decided to expand the Theatre Missile Defence Programme to include protection of NATO European populations and territories and at the same time invited Russia to cooperate on missile defence and to share in its benefits.
At the Chicago Summit, NATO leaders declared an interim ballistic missile defence capability as an initial step to establish NATO's missile defence system, which will protect all NATO European territories, populations and forces against the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
NATO is developing new measures to enhance the robustness of its communication and information systems against attempts at disruption through cyber attacks and illegal access. The Alliance is also prepared, on request, to assist Allies in the event of grave cyber attacks against their national systems. These efforts are the practical manifestation of NATO’s policy on cyber defence, which was reinforced in the 2010 Strategic Concept. More specifically, the Lisbon Capabilities Package stresses the importance of the Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC), which is currently under development. The NCIRC, which already has an initial operational capability, will protect the Alliance networks against cyber attacks and provide appropriate technical assistance when requested.
Stabilization and reconstruction
The Alliance’s experience with crisis response operations has shown the importance of stabilization and reconstruction – activities undertaken in fragile states or in conflict or post-conflict situations to promote security, development and good governance in key sectors. In modern conflicts, conventional military means are often not sufficient to re-establish stable, self-sustaining peace. The primary responsibilities for such activities normally lie with other actors, but the Alliance has established political guidelines that will help to improve its involvement in stabilization and reconstruction.
Critical long-term enabling capabilities for operations
Information superiority (see further down) is a key enabling element in the battlespace and helps commanders at every level make the best decisions, creating the circumstances for success at less risk and greater speed. NATO will therefore continue to develop and acquire a range of networked information systems (Bi-SC Automated Information Systems) that support the two Strategic Commands. They cover a number of domains, including, land, air, maritime, intelligence, logistics and the common operating picture, with a view to enabling more informed and effective, holistic oversight, decision-making and command and control.
Air Command and Control
NATO is putting into place a fully interoperable, automated and integrated Air Command and Control System (ACCS). It will provide for real time command and control, as well as mission planning and associated functions. It will also have the potential for air and missile defence tasks.
Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR)
NATO needs a JISR capability that will provide for the coordinated collection, processing, dissemination and sharing within NATO of ISR material gathered by the future Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system, the current AWACS and national ISR assets. While NATO is delivering a critical JISR capability in ISAF, an enduring JISR capability, which has yet to be fully defined, has to be developed over the coming years.
Alliance Ground Surveillance
The Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system is a key element of transformation and an essential enabling capability for forces across the full spectrum of NATO’s current and future operations and missions. The AGS will be an airborne, stand-off ground surveillance system that can detect and track vehicles, such as tanks, trucks or helicopters, moving on or near the ground, in all weather conditions. The AGS airborne vehicle acquisition contract was signed during the Chicago Summit.
The NATO Response Force
The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed. It has the overarching purpose of being able to provide a rapid military response to an emerging crisis, whether for collective defence purposes or for other crisis response operations. It is also a driving engine of NATO’s military transformation.
At the turn of the millennium, many Alliance forces were not adequately structured, prepared or equipped for crisis response and out of area operations. With the aim of increasing the numbers that could be sustained for such purposes, NATO agreed a goal in 2004 that 40% of land forces should be deployable and that it should be possible to sustain 8% on operations or high-readiness standby (later raised to 50% and 10% respectively). Over the last seven years, this has led to a 7% increase in the number of land forces that are deployable and a 21% increase in the number that can be sustained on operations and other missions. Similar targets of 40% and 8% have also been set for air forces. NATO is now developing a wider set of input and output metrics.
Aviation Modernization Programs
The Alliance will continue to develop its capabilities in the field of air traffic management and engage in civil aviation modernization plans in Europe (Single European Sky ATM Research) and North America (NextGen) with the aim of ensuring safe access to airspace, effective delivery of services and civil-military interoperability in order to safeguard military mission effectiveness at global level and the ability to conduct the full range of NATO operations, including the airspace integration of unmanned aircraft systems.
Improving information superiority
Information superiority aims to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while denying the same to potential adversaries. At the Riga Summit in November 2006, Allied leaders therefore agreed to support efforts to achieve information superiority. Key to these efforts is the implementation of NATO Network-Enabled Capabilities (NNEC), which aims to make all operational elements, from strategic to tactical levels, interoperable and network aware Implementing this network enablement creates a federation of national and NATO networks for which NATO has established the frame, and which can then be used as the bearer for interconnected applications.
Civil emergency planning
In accordance with Alliance objectives, the aim of Alliance civil emergency planning (CEP) is to collect, analyze and share information on national planning activities and capabilities to help ensure the most effective use of civil resources in support of national and NATO military authorities (NMAs).
Within NATO, close civil-military cooperation is crucial to ensuring an optimum mix of capabilities is available when needed. Coordinated civil-military planning is becoming especially important in the context of support to NATO operations, including those involving stabilization and reconstruction. CEP helps facilitate this through a range of civil emergency planning mechanisms and capabilities, thereby allowing NMAs to draw on civilian expertise and assets in areas such as critical infrastructure, transport, food, water, agriculture, communications, health and industry.
The disruption of the flow of vital resources could affect Alliance security interests. At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, Allied leaders reiterated their support for efforts aimed at promoting the security of critical energy infrastructure and transit areas and lines. They also declared that they would continue to ensure that NATO’s efforts would add value and were fully coordinated with those of the international community. A number of practical programmes both within the Alliance and with NATO’s Partner countries are ongoing, alongside workshops and research projects.