NATO's evolving operations
James Pardew and Christopher Bennett

In little over a decade, NATO has evolved from an Alliance focused on contingency planning for a high-intensity war in Central Europe into a highly operational organisation with an eclectic set of missions. Today, NATO Allies and Partners are deployed in diverse Alliance-led operations on three continents - in Africa, Asia and Europe. This dynamic operational climate has been and continues to be an engine for reform throughout the Alliance. Initiatives to modify NATO for the missions it will likely have to undertake in the coming years include the development of the NATO Response Force; moves for the Alliance to take on a more political role, especially in regions where NATO forces are deployed; and measures to forge ever closer partnerships with non-member countries and other international organisations. The pressure on NATO to take on even more operations is likely to increase and there are limits to what the Alliance can do. NATO does, nevertheless, have the ability to convert what is usually limited political will and almost invariably scarce resources into effective international action in those situations where the 26 Allies agree on the need to intervene.

Building stability in Afghanistan
Mihai Carp

Almost three years after taking responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO's mission in Afghanistan remains like no other, with particular challenges for the Alliance. NATO is now focusing on three priority areas: continued ISAF expansion; enhanced assistance to security sector reform efforts, such as the training of Afghan security forces; and perfecting the coordination mechanisms between NATO/ISAF and other international organisations and missions operating in Afghanistan. Having expanded the mission from Kabul, first to the north and then to the west of the country, ISAF is now poised to move to the south and, eventually, the east of Afghanistan. In this way, NATO forces will soon be operating in areas that are less stable. This will require a more robust approach. For ISAF and NATO, the next few years will be decisive. By applying a determined and consistent policy, NATO will not only help defeat terrorism and contribute to regional stability but also create a better life for millions of Afghans.

Deepening relations
Gabriele Cascone and Joaquin Molina

The Western Balkans has come a long way in the years since NATO intervened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and much of the progress may be attributed to the secure environment that the Alliance has provided. Challenges, nevertheless, remain and 2006 will be critical. It is the year in which Kosovo's final status is to be decided. It is also the year in which the nature of the relationship between Montenegro and Serbia should be resolved as Montenegrins vote on independence. And it is the year in which Bosnians elect leaders to chart their country's future as the powers of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina are reduced. NATO is leading the world's largest peacekeeping operation in Kosovo and will maintain a robust presence in the province. The Alliance is also running Tailored Cooperation Programmes with both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro. However, these countries have to improve their cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before they can join the Alliance's Partnership-for-Peace programme. And NATO is building ever closer relations with Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,* the three members of the Membership Action Plan, the Alliance's programme preparing aspirants for NATO membership.

NATO's growing humanitarian role
Maurits Jochems

NATO's responses to both Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the South Asian earthquake in Pakistan last year propelled the Alliance into the disaster-relief spotlight. These operations also raised a number of questions, including whether it is appropriate for military capabilities to be deployed, whether NATO should be involved and who should be in the lead. Civil responders should always be in the lead and must formally request military support if and when they decide that the scale of the disaster is too great for them to handle alone. NATO recognises that the United Nations should always be the lead international agency. NATO's primary contribution is the coordinating, liaising and facilitating function that the Alliance's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief Coordination Centre and military structures provide. This coordination role is useful both to the authorities of the receiving country and to the United Nations, who are thereby able to deal with a single actor. One of the most important issues that needs to be resolved before either NATO or individual Allies again make military capabilities available for disaster-relief operations is that of appropriate funding mechanisms.

Afghanistan's drugs challenge
Alexia Mikhos

The greatest long-term challenge facing Afghanistan is probably that presented by the production of illicit drugs. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 87 per cent of world opium production and 63 per cent of world opium cultivation is in Afghanistan. An estimated 52 per cent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, or around US$2.7 billion, was earned through illicit poppy cultivation. And opium production has surged since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. While the Afghan authorities are responsible for combating narcotics in their own country, the international community also has a role to play. NATO, through its presence in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), cannot ignore the issue. The Operation Plan according to which ISAF should operate as it expands into southern Afghanistan specifies NATO's role. This includes logistic support, sharing intelligence and information and providing training assistance to the Afghan National Army and police in counter-narcotics procedures. The issue of drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan is complex. But unless and until it is resolved, the security environment in Afghanistan will require the presence of an international stabilisation force.

A tale of three Cold Warriors
Kenneth Weisbrode

In the space of six months in 2004 and 2005, three men central to US Cold-War strategy died: George F. Kennan, the father of the "containment" policy; Paul H. Nitze, who drafted the famous document NSC-68; and Andrew J. Goodpaster, a four-star Army General, Staff Secretary to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and NATO Supreme Allied Commander. After Stalin's death in 1953, Eisenhower set up three teams of advisers to think through the implications of alternate policy approaches in what became known as the Solarium Project. Team A, headed by Kennan, was bound to a political strategy. Team B's approach was similar but relied more on the US nuclear arsenal. Goodpaster's Team C was the "roll-back" team. Nitze was excluded from the project but Team C's mandate was based on NSC-68. Taken on their own, none of the teams' strategies proved satisfying. Yet Eisenhower managed to synthesise the findings into a single strategy - NSC-162/2 - that proved enduring. US interests required a careful blend: Kennan with faith in diplomacy and political pressure; Nitze with military preparedness; and Goodpaster with the safeguarding of deterrence. Each man, in his own unique way, was simultaneously soldier, scholar and statesman.

Report of the "Three Wise Men": 50 years on
Lawrence S. Kaplan

Halvard Lange, Gaetano Martino and Lester B. Pearson, foreign ministers of Norway, Italy and Canada respectively, were the "Three Wise Men" who prepared the Report of the Committee of Three on Non-Military Cooperation in NATO in 1956. This seminal document sought to address the exclusion of smaller Allies from NATO decision-making and to expand the Alliance's functions in non-military spheres. In the wake of the report's publication, a Committee of Political Advisers was set up and the NATO Science Programme launched in 1957. Despite this, the major NATO powers - France, the United Kingdom and the United States - continued to make decisions with little or no consultation with other Allies in the following years. Nevertheless, much of the advice of the "Wise Men" reappeared a decade later in the Harmel Report by which time the security environment was more conducive to greater political consultation. Although not always followed over the years, political consultation remains as important to the future of NATO in 2006 as it was in 1956.

Farewell to war
Christoph Bertram

NATO needs to accept that it is no longer suited for or required to fight conventional wars. Instead, the Alliance should focus on stabilisation operations. However, NATO fears that by doing so it would be weakening itself and allowing the gap between European and US levels of military preparedness to widen, with Europeans opting for supposedly cheaper stabilisation tasks. These fears are unfounded. While wars have divided the Allies, stabilisation operations have united them. Moreover, stabilisation tasks are not cheaper. In contrast to military campaigns, which are usually over in a short time, stabilisation operations can last for years. Focusing on stabilisation would also address other NATO problems, including helping allay suspicions that a closer EU-NATO relationship would impede the European Union's own defence integration. NATO does not need to give up its collective-defence commitment. But it can only renew itself by demonstrating its importance as the major provider of military forces for crisis management and post-war stabilisation.

* Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.