The Alliance's New Strategic Concept

agreed by the Heads of State and Government participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council

  • 07 Nov. 1991 - 08 Nov. 1991
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  • Last updated 26-Oct-2009 13:09

At their meeting in London in July 1990, NATO's Heads of State and Government agreed on the need to transform the Atlantic Alliance to reflect the new, more promising, era in Europe. While reaffirming the basic principles on which the Alliance has rested

At their meeting in London in July 1990, NATO's Heads of State and Government agreed on the need to transform the Atlantic Alliance to reflect the new, more promising, era in Europe. While reaffirming the basic principles on which the Alliance has rested since its inception, they recognised that the developments taking place in Europe would have a far-reaching impact on the way in which its aims would be met in future. In particular, they set in hand a fundamental strategic review. The resulting new Strategic Concept is set out below.

Part I - the Strategic Context

The new strategic environment

  1. Since 1989, profound political changes have taken place in Central and Eastern Europe which have radically improved the security environment in which the North Atlantic Alliance seeks to achieve its objectives. The USSR's former satellites have fully recovered their sovereignty. The Soviet Union and its Republics are undergoing radical change. The three Baltic Republics have regained their independence. Soviet forces have left Hungary and Czechoslovakia and are due to complete their withdrawal from Poland and Germany by 1994. All the countries that were formerly adversaries of NATO have dismantled the Warsaw Pact and rejected ideological hostility to the West. They have, in varying degrees, embraced and begun to implement policies aimed at achieving pluralistic democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and a market economy. The political division of Europe that was the source of the military confrontation of the Cold War period has thus been overcome.
  2. In the West, there have also been significant changes. Germany has been united and remains a full member of the Alliance and of European institutions. The fact that the countries of the European Community are working towards the goal of political union, including the development of a European security identity, and the enhancement of the role of the WEU are important factors for European security. The strengthening of the security dimension in the process of European integration, and the enhancement of the role and responsibilities of European members of the Alliance are positive and mutually reinforcing. The development of a European security identity and defence role, reflected in the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, will not only serve the interests of the European states but also reinforce the integrity and effectiveness of the Alliance as a whole.
  3. Substantial progress in arms control has already enhanced stability and security by lowering arms levels and increasing military transparency and mutual confidence (including through the Stockholm CDE agreement of 1986, the INF Treaty of 1987 and the CSCE agreements and confidence and security-building measures of 1990). Implementation of the 1991 START Treaty will lead to increased stability through substantial and balanced reductions in the field of strategic nuclear arms. Further far- reaching changes and reductions in the nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union will be pursued following President Bush's September 1991 initiative. Also of great importance is the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), signed at the 1990 Paris Summit; its implementation will remove the Alliance's numerical inferiority in key conventional weapon systems and provide for effective verification procedures. All these developments will also result in an unprecedented degree of military transparency in Europe, thus increasing predictability and mutual confidence. Such transparency would be further enhanced by the achievement of an Open Skies regime. There are welcome prospects for further advances in arms control in conventional and nuclear forces, and for the achievement of a global ban on chemical weapons, as well as restricting de-stabilising arms exports and the proliferation of certain weapons technologies.
  4.  The CSCE process, which began in Helsinki in 1975, has already contributed significantly to overcoming the division of Europe. As a result of the Paris Summit, it now includes new institutional arrangements and provides a contractual frame- work for consultation and cooperation that can play a constructive role, complementary to that of NATO and the process of European integration, in preserving peace. 
  5. The historic changes that have occurred in Europe, which have led to the fulfilment of a number of objectives set out in the Harmel Report, have significantly improved the overall security of the Allies. The monolithic, massive and potentially immediate threat which was the principal concern of the Alliance in its first forty years has disappeared. On the other hand, a great deal of uncertainty about the future and risks to the security of the Alliance remain.
  6. The new Strategic Concept looks forward to a security environment in which the positive changes referred to above have come to fruition. In particular, it assumes both the completion of the planned withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Central and Eastern Europe and the full implementation by all parties of the 1990 CFE Treaty. The implementation of the Strategic Concept will thus be kept under review in the light of the evolving security environment and in particular progress in fulfilling these assumptions. Further adaptation will be made to the extent necessary.

Security challenges and risks

  1. The security challenges and risks which NATO faces are different in nature from what they were in the past. The threat of a simultaneous, full-scale attack on all of NATO's European fronts has effectively been removed and thus no longer provides the focus for Allied strategy. Particularly in Central Europe, the risk of a surprise attack has been substantially reduced, and minimum Allied warning time has increased accordingly.
  2. In contrast with the predominant threat of the past, the risks to Allied security that remain are multi-faceted in nature and multi-directional, which makes them hard to predict and assess. NATO must be capable of responding to such risks if stability in Europe and the security of Alliance members are to be preserved. These risks can arise in various ways.
  3. Risks to Allied security are less likely to result from calculated aggression against the territory of the Allies, but rather from the adverse consequences of instabilities that may arise from the serious economic, social and political difficulties, including ethnic rivalries and territorial disputes, which are faced by many countries in central and eastern Europe. The tensions which may result, as long as they remain limited, should not directly threaten the security and territorial integrity of members of the Alliance. They could, however, lead to crises inimical to European stability and even to armed conflicts, which could involve outside powers or spill over into NATO countries, having a direct effect on the security of the Alliance.
  4. In the particular case of the Soviet Union, the risks and uncertainties that accompany the process of change cannot be seen in isolation from the fact that its conventional forces are significantly larger than those of any other European State and its large nuclear arsenal comparable only with that of the United States. These capabilities have to be taken into account if stability and security in Europe are to be preserved.
  5. The Allies also wish to maintain peaceful and non- adversarial relations with the countries in the Southern Mediterranean and Middle East. The stability and peace of the countries on the southern periphery of Europe are important for the security of the Alliance, as the 1991 Gulf war has shown. This is all the more so because of the build-up of military power and the proliferation of weapons technologies in the area, including weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles capable of reaching the territory of some member states of the Alliance.
  6. Any armed attack on the territory of the Allies, from whatever direction, would be covered by Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty. However, Alliance security must also take account of the global context. Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, disruption of the flow of vital resources and actions of terrorism and sabotage. Arrangements exist within the Alliance for consultation among the Allies under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty and, where appropriate, coordination of their efforts including their responses to such risks.
  7. From the point of view of Alliance strategy, these different risks have to be seen in different ways. Even in a non-adversarial and cooperative relationship, Soviet military capability and build-up potential, including its nuclear dimension, still con- stitute the most significant factor of which the Alliance has to take account in maintaining the strategic balance in Europe. The end of East-West confrontation has, however, greatly reduced the risk of major conflict in Europe. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of different crises arising, which could develop quickly and would require a rapid response, but they are likely to be of a lesser magnitude.
  8. Two conclusions can be drawn from this analysis of the strategic context. The first is that the new environment does not change the purpose or the security functions of the Alliance, but rather underlines their enduring validity. The second, on the other hand, is that the changed environment offers new opportunities for the Alliance to frame its strategy within a broad approach to security.

Part II - Alliance Objectives And Security Functions

The purpose of the Alliance

  1. NATO's essential purpose, set out in the Washington Treaty and reiterated in the London Declaration, is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Based on common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Alliance has worked since its inception for the establishment of a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe. This Alliance objective remains unchanged.

The nature of the Alliance

  1. NATO embodies the transatlantic link by which the security of North America is permanently tied to the security of Europe. It is the practical expression of effective collective effort among its members in support of their common interests.
  2. The fundamental operating principle of the Alliance is that of common commitment and mutual co-operation among sovereign states in support of the indivisibility of security for all of its members. Solidarity within the Alliance, given substance and effect by NATO's daily work in both the political and military spheres, ensures that no single Ally is forced to rely upon its own national efforts alone in dealing with basic security challenges. Without depriving member states of their right and duty to assume their sovereign responsibilities in the field of defence, the Alliance enables them through collective effort to enhance their ability to realise their essential national security objectives.
  3. The resulting sense of equal security amongst the members of the Alliance, regardless of differences in their circumstances or in their national military capabilities relative to each other, contributes to overall stability within Europe and thus to the creation of conditions conducive to increased co-operation both among Alliance members and with others. It is on this basis that members of the Alliance, together with other nations, are able to pursue the development of co-operative structures of security for a Europe whole and free.

The fundamental tasks of the Alliance

  1. The means by which the Alliance pursues its security policy to preserve the peace will continue to include the maintenance of a military capability sufficient to prevent war and to provide for effective defence; an overall capability to manage successfully crises affecting the security of its members; and the pursuit of political efforts favouring dialogue with other nations and the active search for a co-operative approach to European security, including in the field of arms control and disarmament.
  2. To achieve its essential purpose, the Alliance performs the following fundamental security tasks:
    1. To provide one of the indispensable foundations for a stable security environment in Europe, based on the growth of democratic institutions and commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in which no country would be able to intimidate or coerce any European nation or to impose hegemony through the threat or use of force.
    2. To serve, as provided for in Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations on any issues that affect their vital interests, including possible developments posing risks for members' security, and for appropriate co-ordination of their efforts in fields of common concern.
    3. To deter and defend against any threat of aggression against the territory of any NATO member state.
    4. To preserve the strategic balance within Europe.
  3. Other European institutions such as the EC, WEU and CSCE also have roles to play, in accordance with their respective responsibilities and purposes, in these fields. The creation of a European identity in security and defence will underline the preparedness of the Europeans to take a greater share of responsibility for their security and will help to reinforce transatlantic solidarity. However the extent of its membership and of its capabilities gives NATO a particular position in that it can perform all four core security functions. NATO is the essential forum for consultation among the Allies and the forum for agreement on policies bearing on the security and defence commitments of its members under the Washington Treaty.
  4. In defining the core functions of the Alliance in the terms set out above, member states confirm that the scope of the Alliance as well as their rights and obligations as provided for in the Washington Treaty remain unchanged.

Part III - A Broad Approach To Security

Protecting peace in a new Europe

  1. The Alliance has always sought to achieve its objectives of safeguarding the security and territorial integrity of its members, and establishing a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe, through both political and military means. This comprehensive approach remains the basis of the Alliance's security policy.
  2. But what is new is that, with the radical changes in the security situation, the opportunities for achieving Alliance objectives through political means are greater than ever before. It is now possible to draw all the consequences from the fact that security and stability have political, economic, social, and environmental elements as well as the indispensable defence dimension. Managing the diversity of challenges facing the Alliance requires a broad approach to security. This is reflected in three mutually reinforcing elements of Allied security policy; dialogue, co-operation, and the maintenance of a collective defence capability.
  3. The Alliance's active pursuit of dialogue and co-operation, underpinned by its commitment to an effective collective defence capability, seeks to reduce the risks of conflict arising out of misunderstanding or design; to build increased mutual understanding and confidence among all European states; to help manage crises affecting the security of the Allies; and to expand the opportunities for a genuine partnership among all European countries in dealing with common security problems.
  4. In this regard, the Alliance's arms control and disarmament policy contributes both to dialogue and to co-operation with other nations, and thus will continue to play a major role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. The Allies seek, through arms control and disarmament, to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the requirements of defence. Thus, the Alliance will continue to ensure that defence and arms control and disarmament objectives remain in harmony.
  5. In fulfilling its fundamental objectives and core security functions, the Alliance will continue to respect the legitimate security interests of others, and seek the peaceful resolution of disputes as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations. The Alliance will promote peaceful and friendly international relations and support democratic institutions. In this respect, it recognizes the valuable contribution being made by other organizations such as the European Community and the CSCE, and that the roles of these institutions and of the Alliance are complementary.


  1. The new situation in Europe has multiplied the opportunities for dialogue on the part of the Alliance with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Alliance has established regular diplomatic liaison and military contacts with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as provided for in the London Declaration. The Alliance will further promote dialogue through regular diplomatic liaison, including an intensified exchange of views and information on security policy issues. Through such means the Allies, individually and collectively, will seek to make full use of the unprecedented opportunities afforded by the growth of freedom and democracy throughout Europe and encourage greater mutual understanding of respective security concerns, to increase transparency and predictability in security affairs, and thus to reinforce stability. The military can help to overcome the divisions of the past, not least through intensified military contacts and greater military transparency. The Alliance's pursuit of dialogue will provide a foundation for greater co-operation throughout Europe and the ability to resolve differences and conflicts by peaceful means.


  1. The Allies are also committed to pursue co-operation with all states in Europe on the basis of the principles set out in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. They will seek to develop broader and productive patterns of bilateral and multilateral co-operation in all relevant fields of European security, with the aim, inter alia, of preventing crises or, should they arise, ensuring their effective management. Such partnership between the members of the Alliance and other nations in dealing with specific problems will be an essential factor in moving beyond past divisions towards one Europe whole and free. This policy of co-operation is the expression of the inseparability of security among European states. It is built upon a common recognition among Alliance members that the persistence of new political, economic or social divisions across the continent could lead to future instability, and such divisions must thus be diminished.

Collective Defence

  1. The political approach to security will thus become increasingly important. Nonetheless, the military dimension remains essential. The maintenance of an adequate military capability and clear preparedness to act collectively in the common defence remain central to the Alliance's security objectives. Such a capability, together with political solidarity, is required in order to prevent any attempt at coercion or intimidation, and to guarantee that military aggression directed against the Alliance can never be perceived as an option with any prospect of success. It is equally indispensable so that dialogue and co-operation can be undertaken with confidence and achieve their desired results.

Management of crisis and conflict prevention

  1. In the new political and strategic environment in Europe, the success of the Alliance's policy of preserving peace and preventing war depends even more than in the past on the effectiveness of preventive diplomacy and successful management of crises affecting the security of its members. Any major aggression in Europe is much more unlikely and would be preceded by significant warning time. Though on a much smaller scale, the range and variety of other potential risks facing the Alliance are less predictable than before.
  2. In these new circumstances there are increased opportunities for the successful resolution of crises at an early stage. The success of Alliance policy will require a coherent approach determined by the Alliance's political authorities choosing and co-ordinating appropriate crisis management measures as required from a range of political and other measures, including those in the military field. Close control by the political authorities of the Alliance will be applied from the outset and at all stages. Appropriate consultation and decision making procedures are essential to this end.
  3. The potential of dialogue and co-operation within all of Europe must be fully developed in order to help to defuse crises and to prevent conflicts since the Allies' security is inseparably linked to that of all other states in Europe. To this end, the Allies will support the role of the CSCE process and its institutions. Other bodies including the European Community, Western European Union and United Nations may also have an important role to play.

Part IV - Guidelines For Defence

Principles of Alliance strategy

  1. The diversity of challenges now facing the Alliance thus requires a broad approach to security. The transformed political and strategic environment enables the Alliance to change a number of important features of its military strategy and to set out new guidelines, while reaffirming proven fundamental principles. At the London Summit, it was therefore agreed to prepare a new military strategy and a revised force posture responding to the changed circumstances.
  2. Alliance strategy will continue to reflect a number of fundamental principles. The Alliance is purely defensive in purpose: none of its weapons will ever be used except in self-defence, and it does not consider itself to be anyone's adversary. The Allies will maintain military strength adequate to convince any potential aggressor that the use of force against the territory of one of the Allies would meet collective and effective action by all of them and that the risks involved in initiating conflict would outweigh any foreseeable gains. The forces of the Allies must therefore be able to defend Alliance frontiers, to stop an aggressor's advance as far forward as possible, to maintain or restore the territorial integrity of Allied nations and to terminate war rapidly by making an aggressor reconsider his decision, cease his attack and withdraw. The role of the Alliance's military forces is to assure the territorial integrity and political independence of its member states, and thus contribute to peace and stability in Europe.
  3. The security of all Allies is indivisible: an attack on one is an attack on all. Alliance solidarity and strategic unity are accordingly crucial prerequisites for collective security. The achievement of the Alliance's objectives depends critically on the equitable sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of common defence. The presence of North American conventional and US nuclear forces in Europe remains vital to the security of Europe, which is inseparably linked to that of North America. As the process of developing a European security identity and defence role progresses, and is reflected in the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, the European members of the Alliance will assume a greater degree of the responsibility for the defence of Europe.
  4. The collective nature of Alliance defence is embodied in practical arrangements that enable the Allies to enjoy the crucial political, military and resource advantages of collective defence, and prevent the renationalisation of defence policies, without depriving the Allies of their sovereignty. These arrangements are based on an integrated military structure as well as on co-operation and co-ordination agreements. Key features include collective force planning; common operational planning; multinational formations; the stationing of forces outside home territory, where appropriate on a mutual basis; crisis management and reinforcement arrangements; procedures for consultation; common standards and procedures for equipment, training and logistics; joint and combined exercises; and infrastructure, armaments and logistics co-operation.
  5. To protect peace and to prevent war or any kind of coercion, the Alliance will maintain for the foreseeable future an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces based in Europe and kept up to date where necessary, although at a significantly reduced level. Both elements are essential to Alliance security and cannot substitute one for the other. Conventional forces contribute to war prevention by ensuring that no potential aggressor could contemplate a quick or easy victory, or territorial gains, by conventional means. Taking into account the diversity of risks with which the Alliance could be faced, it must maintain the forces necessary to provide a wide range of conventional response options. But the Alliance's conventional forces alone cannot ensure the prevention of war. Nuclear weapons make a unique contribution in rendering the risks of any aggression incalculable and unacceptable. Thus, they remain essential to preserve peace.

The Alliance's new force posture

  1. At the London Summit, the Allies concerned agreed to move away, where appropriate, from the concept of forward defence towards a reduced forward presence, and to modify the principle of flexible response to reflect a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The changes stemming from the new strategic environment and the altered risks now facing the Alliance enable significant modifications to be made in the missions of the Allies' military forces and in their posture.

The Missions of Alliance Military Forces

  1. The primary role of Alliance military forces, to guarantee the security and territorial integrity of member states, remains unchanged. But this role must take account of the new strategic environment, in which a single massive and global threat has given way to diverse and multi-directional risks. Alliance forces have different functions to perform in peace, crisis and war.
  2. In peace, the role of Allied military forces is to guard against risks to the security of Alliance members; to contribute towards the maintenance of stability and balance in Europe; and to ensure that peace is preserved. They can contribute to dialogue and co-operation throughout Europe by their participation in confidence-building activities, including those which enhance transparency and improve communication; as well as in verification of arms control agreements. Allies could, further, be called upon to contribute to global stability and peace by providing forces for United Nations missions.
  3. In the event of crises which might lead to a military threat to the security of Alliance members, the Alliance's military forces can complement and reinforce political actions within a broad approach to security, and thereby contribute to the management of such crises and their peaceful resolution. This requires that these forces have a capability for measured and timely responses in such circumstances; the capability to deter action against any Ally and, in the event that aggression takes place, to respond to and repel it as well as to reestablish the territorial integrity of member states.
  4. While in the new security environment a general war in Europe has become highly unlikely, it cannot finally be ruled out. The Alliance's military forces, which have as their fundamental mission to protect peace, have to provide the essential insurance against potential risks at the minimum level necessary to prevent war of any kind, and, should aggression occur, to restore peace. Hence the need for the capabilities and the appropriate mix of forces already described.

Guidelines for the Alliance's Force Posture

  1. To implement its security objectives and strategic principles in the new environment, the organization of the Allies' forces must be adapted to provide capabilities that can contribute to protecting peace, managing crises that affect the security of Alliance members, and preventing war, while retaining at all times the means to defend, if necessary, all Allied territory and to restore peace. The posture of Allies' forces will conform to the guidelines developed in the following paragraphs.
  2. The size, readiness, availability and deployment of the Alliance's military forces will continue to reflect its strictly defensive nature and will be adapted accordingly to the new strategic environment including arms control agreements. This means in particular:
    1. that the overall size of the Allies' forces, and in many cases their readiness, will be reduced;
    2. that the maintenance of a comprehensive in-place linear defensive posture in the central region will no longer be required. The peacetime geographical distribution of forces will ensure a sufficient military presence throughout the territory of the Alliance, including where necessary forward deployment of appropriate forces. Regional considerations and, in particular, geostrategic differences within the Alliance will have to be taken into account, including the shorter warning times to which the northern and southern regions will be subject compared with the central region and, in the southern region, the potential for instability and the military capabilities in the adjacent areas.
  3. To ensure that at this reduced level the Allies' forces can play an effective role both in managing crises and in countering aggression against any Ally, they will require enhanced flexibility and mobility and an assured capability for augmentation when necessary. For these reasons:
    1. Available forces will include, in a limited but militarily significant proportion, ground, air and sea immediate and rapid reaction elements able to respond to a wide range of eventualities, many of which are unforeseeable. They will be of sufficient quality, quantity and readiness to deter a limited attack and, if required, to defend the territory of the Allies against attacks, particularly those launched without long warning time.
    2. The forces of the Allies will be structured so as to permit their military capability to be built up when necessary. This ability to build up by reinforcement, by mobilising reserves, or by reconstituting forces, must be in proportion to potential threats to Alliance security, including the possibility - albeit unlikely, but one that prudence dictates should not be ruled out - of a major conflict. Consequently, capabilities for timely reinforcement and resupply both within Europe and from North America will be of critical importance.
    3. Appropriate force structures and procedures, including those that would provide an ability to build up, deploy and draw down forces quickly and discriminately, will be developed to permit measured, flexible and timely responses in order to reduce and defuse tensions. These arrangements must be exercised regularly in peacetime.
    4. In the event of use of forces, including the deployment of reaction and other available reinforcing forces as an instrument of crisis management, the Alliance's political authorities will, as before, exercise close control over their employment at all stages. Existing procedures will be reviewed in the light of the new missions and posture of Alliance forces.

Characteristics of Conventional Forces

  1. It is essential that the Allies' military forces have a credible ability to fulfil their functions in peace, crisis and war in a way appropriate to the new security environment. This will be reflected in force and equipment levels; readiness and availability; training and exercises; deployment and employment options; and force build-up capabilities, all of which will be adjusted accordingly. The conventional forces of the Allies will include, in addition to immediate and rapid reaction forces, main defence forces, which will provide the bulk of forces needed to ensure the Alliance's territorial integrity and the unimpeded use of their lines of communication; and augmentation forces, which will provide a means of reinforcing existing forces in a particular region. Main defence and augmentation forces will comprise both active and mobilisable elements.
  2. Ground, maritime and air forces will have to co-operate closely and combine and assist each other in operations aimed at achieving agreed objectives. These forces will consist of the following:
    1. Ground forces, which are essential to hold or regain territory. The majority will normally be at lower states of readiness and, overall, there will be a greater reliance on mobilization and reserves. All categories of ground forces will require demonstrable combat effectiveness together with an appropriately enhanced capability for flexible deployment.
    2. Maritime forces, which because of their inherent mobility, flexibility and endurance, make an important contribution to the Alliance's crisisresponse options. Their essential missions are to ensure sea control in order to safeguard the Allies' sea lines of communication, to support land and amphibious operations, and to protect the deployment of the Alliance's sea-based nuclear deterrent.
    3. Air forces, whose ability to fulfil their fundamental roles in both independent air and combined operations - counter-air, air interdiction and offensive air support - as well as to contribute to surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare operations, is essential to the overall effectiveness of the Allies' military forces. Their role in supporting operations, on land and at sea, will require appropriate long-distance airlift and air refuelling capabilities. Air defence forces, including modern air command and control systems, are required to ensure a secure air defence environment.
  3. In light of the potential risks it poses, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction should be given special consideration. Solution of this problem will require complementary approaches including, for example, export control and missile defences.
  4. Alliance strategy is not dependent on a chemical warfare capability. The Allies remain committed to the earliest possible achievement of a global, comprehensive, and effectively verifiable ban on all chemical weapons. But, even after implementation of a global ban, precautions of a purely defensive nature will need to be maintained.
  5. In the new security environment and given the reduced overall force levels in future, the ability to work closely together, which will facilitate the cost effective use of Alliance resources, will be particularly important for the achievement of the missions of the Allies' forces. The Alliance's collective defence arrangements in which, for those concerned, the integrated military structure, including multinational forces, plays the key role, will be essential in this regard. Integrated and multinational European structures, as they are further developed in the context of an emerging European Defence Identity, will also increasingly have a similarly important role to play in enhancing the Allies' ability to work together in the common defence. Allies' efforts to achieve maximum co-operation will be based on the common guidelines for defence defined above. Practical arrangements will be developed to ensure the necessary mutual transparency and complementarity between the European security and defence identity and the Alliance.
  6. In order to be able to respond flexibly to a wide range of possible contingencies, the Allies concerned will require effective surveillance and intelligence, flexible command and control, mobility within and between regions, and appropriate logistics capabilities, including transport capacities. Logistic stocks must be sufficient to sustain all types of forces in order to permit effective defence until resupply is available. The capability of the Allies concerned to build-up larger, adequately equipped and trained forces, in a timely manner and to a level appropriate to any risk to Alliance security, will also make an essential contribution to crisis management and defence. This capability will include the ability to reinforce any area at risk within the territory of the Allies and to establish a multinational presence when and where this is needed. Elements of all three force categories will be capable of being employed flexibly as part of both intra-European and transatlantic reinforcement. Proper use of these capabilities will require control of the necessary lines of communication as well as appropriate support and exercise arrangements. Civil resources will be of increasing relevance in this context.
  7. For the Allies concerned, collective defence arrangements will rely increasingly on multinational forces, complementing national commitments to NATO. Multinational forces demonstrate the Alliance's resolve to maintain a credible collective defence; enhance Alliance cohesion; reinforce the transatlantic partnership and strengthen the European pillar. Multinational forces, and in particular reaction forces, reinforce solidarity. They can also provide a way of deploying more capable formations than might be available purely nationally, thus helping to make more efficient use of scarce defence resources. This may include a highly integrated, multinational approach to specific tasks and functions.

Characteristics of Nuclear Forces

  1. The fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war. They will continue to fulfil an essential role by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression. They demonstrate that aggression of any kind is not a rational option. The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.
  2. A credible Alliance nuclear posture and the demonstration of Alliance solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements. Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe. These forces need to have the necessary characteristics and appropriate flexibility and survivability, to be perceived as a credible and effective element of the Allies' strategy in preventing war. They will be maintained at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability.
  3. The Allies concerned consider that, with the radical changes in the security situation, including conventional force levels in Europe maintained in relative balance and increased reaction times, NATO's ability to defuse a crisis through diplomatic and other means or, should it be necessary, to mount a successful conventional defence will significantly improve. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated by them are therefore even more remote. They can therefore significantly reduce their sub-strategic nuclear forces. They will maintain adequate sub-strategic forces based in Europe which will provide an essential link with strategic nuclear forces, reinforcing the trans-Atlantic link. These will consist solely of dual capable aircraft which could, if necessary, be supplemented by offshore systems. Sub-strategic nuclear weapons will, however, not be deployed in normal circumstances on surface vessels and attack submarines. There is no requirement for nuclear artillery or ground-launched short- range nuclear missiles and they will be eliminated.

Part V - Conclusion

  1. This Strategic Concept reaffirms the defensive nature of the Alliance and the resolve of its members to safeguard their security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Alliance's security policy is based on dialogue; co-operation; and effective collective defence as mutually reinforcing instruments for preserving the peace. Making full use of the new opportunities available, the Alliance will maintain security at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the requirements of defence. In this way, the Alliance is making an essential contribution to promoting a lasting peaceful order.
  2. The Allies will continue to pursue vigorously further progress in arms control and confidence-building measures with the objective of enhancing security and stability. They will also play an active part in promoting dialogue and co-operation between states on the basis of the principles enunciated in the Paris Charter.
  3. NATO's strategy will retain the flexibility to reflect further developments in the politico-military environment, including progress in the moves towards a European security identity, and in any changes in the risks to Alliance security. For the Allies concerned, the Strategic Concept will form the basis for the further development of the Alliance's defence policy, its operational concepts, its conventional and nuclear force posture and its collective defence planning arrangements.
  1.  In July 1997, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed that the Strategic Concept should be re-examined to ensure that it remained fully consistent with Europe's new security situation and challenges. The Council was requested to initiate the work with a view to completing it in time for presentation at the next Summit Meeting in 1999.