Comprehensive Political Guidance (Archived)

  • Last updated: 01 Jun. 2015 15:47

The Comprehensive Political Guidance, endorsed in 2006, set out the framework and priorities for all Alliance capability issues, planning disciplines and intelligence for the next 10 to 15 years.

NATO Russia Council (NRC) Meeting - General view of the meeting room

It analysed the probable future security environment, but acknowledged the possibility of unpredictable events.

Against that analysis, it set out the kinds of operations the Alliance had to be able to perform in light of the Alliance’s 1999 Strategic Concept and the kinds of capabilities the Alliance would need.

An evolving strategic context

The threats, risks and challenges faced by the Allies in 2006 were very different from those of the Cold War. NATO no longer perceived large-scale conventional military threats to Alliance territory. Instead, the security threats included instability, ethnic and religious-based rivalries, competition for natural resources, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, failed states, genocide, mass migration, organised crime, cyber attacks and terrorism.

The challenge was to cope with an ever-increasing set of demands and with new types of operations. That is why, then and today, Allies are committed to pursuing the transformation of their forces: operations will continue to require agile and interoperable, well-trained and well-led military forces – forces that are modern, deployable, sustainable and available to undertake demanding operations far from home bases. This also places a premium on close coordination and cooperation among international organisations and of particular importance to NATO is its relationship with the United Nations and the European Union.

Providing the means to implement the objectives

Capability requirements

The Comprehensive Political Guidance (CPG) set out the kinds of operations the Alliance had to be able to perform and the kinds of capabilities the Alliance would need. It defined NATO’s top priorities among those requirements, starting with expeditionary forces and the capability to deploy and sustain them. These capability requirements were expressed broadly. How specifically these capabilities were to be filled was left open, since that was for members to determine both individually and collectively through NATO’s defence planning process.

The NATO Defence Planning Process

The NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP) was reviewed to guarantee that NATO had effective military capabilities for defence and deterrence, and was able to fulfil the full range of its missions.

The NDPP comprises a number of planning disciplines including armaments, civil emergency planning, consultation, command and control, logistics, and resource, nuclear and force planning. Subordinate documents, such as Ministerial Guidance, provide more detailed, quantitative and qualitative guidance. Usually provided every four years, Ministerial Guidance (referred to as ‘Political Guidance’ since the reform of the NDPP in 2009) establishes the Alliance level of ambition in military terms and provides further strategic level politico-military direction for relevant planning disciplines. This provides the basis for specific requirements to be set by the NATO force planning system for those member countries engaged in collective force planning. The system then later assesses their ability to meet these planning targets through a defence review process.

Building on the CPG, new Ministerial Guidance was agreed in June 2006. It sought to provide NATO with the ability to conduct a greater number of smaller-scale operations, while retaining its ability to carry out larger operations. In addition, future planning targets embraced further transformation of the Alliance, seeking to improve NATO’s capabilities to pursue the sort of expeditionary operations in which it engages.

The CPG Management Mechanism

The implementation of the CPG, both within the Alliance proper and by the Allies themselves was crucial. It aimed to lead to the development of more usable capabilities for future operations and missions, thereby ensuring that the Alliance remained effective, credible and relevant. To this end, in February 2006, a CPG Management Mechanism was established.

Two aspects of the implementation of the CPG were pursued: monitoring and evaluating the actual fulfilment of the required capabilities; and improving NATO’s processes for identifying, developing and delivering the required capabilities.

Adoption of the Comprehensive Political Guidance

The CPG was agreed on 21 December 2005 by the 26 NATO member countries.  It was endorsed by NATO defence ministers at their June 2006 meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, and – at the highest political level – by NATO Heads of State and Government at the November 2006 Riga Summit.