NATO Foreign Ministers address challenges to the south, agree new hybrid strategy and assurance measures for Turkey
NATO Foreign Ministers took steps to further the Alliance’s adaptation to security challenges from the south on Tuesday (1 December 2015). The ministers reviewed the progress of the global coalition against ISIL, measures taken since the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the Vienna talks to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
“The challenges from the south are grave and complex,” the Secretary General said after the meeting, stressing that “NATO is already responding.” Mr Stoltenberg said that the Alliance is taking action in three areas: strengthening collective defence; helping to manage crises; and working with partners to build regional stability.
On collective defence, NATO is enhancing the readiness of its forces to deal with threats from the south as well as the east. The Secretary General noted that NATO’s largest exercise in over a decade has just ended in the south of the Alliance, and that work is progressing on maritime and missile defence, as well as surveillance drones. “Today, we have approved a new strategy on hybrid warfare,” Mr. Stoltenberg said, adding “we are also improving our intelligence and early warning mechanisms to help us better understand the region and increase our situational awareness.”
As Turkey is on the front line of regional instability to the south, Allies are looking at additional assurance measures for Turkey. “They will be finalised in the coming weeks,” Mr Stoltenberg said. He added that NATO has augmented Turkey’s air defence for several years, and will continue to do so.
In terms of crisis management, the Secretary General noted that all Allies contribute to the coalition against ISIL. He highlighted that “the effectiveness of the coalition is based to a large extent on the interoperability built by Allies and partners over many years of NATO operations”.
Mr. Stoltenberg also explained that NATO is helping partners in the Middle East and North Africa develop their defence capacities. He noted that NATO has recently launched defence capacity building programmes for Jordan and Iraq, and is setting up NATO training for Iraqi officers in Jordan and Turkey. This training will cover areas including countering improvised explosive devices, cyber defence, and security sector reform. NATO is also working with Tunisia to fight terrorism, including through Special Forces training. “We will be looking with our partners to see what more we can do in all these areas,” the Secretary General concluded.