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The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States demonstrated both the capability of a determined enemy and the vulnerability of Alliance members to large-scale terrorist attacks. NATO’s Article 5 declaration and subsequent operations demonstrated the Alliance’s resolve to deal with this threat.
On 18 December 2001, NATO Defence Ministers tasked the NATO Military Authorities to prepare a Military Concept for Defence Against Terrorism for approval by the North Atlantic Council. The NATO Military Authorities requested political guidance from the North Atlantic Council and following receipt of the necessary guidance, submitted their Concept for approval. The Concept was approved by the North Atlantic Council in permanent session and then endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the Prague Summit on 21 November 2002.
The major guiding principles in the development of the Concept were:
NATO’s Military Concept for Defence Against Terrorism was developed to defend against the threat identified in NATO’s Threat Assessment on Terrorism. This assessment concluded that:
The Concept identifies four different roles for military operations for Defence against Terrorism. In each of the four roles, Force Protection (FP) is an essential consideration. The 4 roles are:
Force Protection must be a fundamental part of any military plan aimed at defending against terrorism. As total Force Protection is probably unachievable and unaffordable, even in the most benign of environments, Military Commanders must balance the risk to their forces against their mission objectives and decide on the appropriate level of force protection to employ. Their decisions will be influenced by up to date threat assessments.
Anti-Terrorism is the use of defensive measures to reduce the vulnerability of forces, individuals and property to terrorism. Although nations have the primary responsibility for the defence of their populations and infrastructures, there is a role for the Alliance if a nation requests support. Timely and accurate intelligence is an essential requirement in successful deterring and protecting against terrorist attacks. Allied Anti Terrorist actions could include:
Consequence Management is the use of reactive measures to mitigate the destructive effects of terrorism and is the responsibility of national civil authorities, but the Alliance could provide a wide range of military support, such as:
Counter Terrorism - General
Counter terrorism is offensive military action designed to reduce terrorists’ capabilities. Allied nations agree that terrorists should not be allowed to base, train, plan, stage and execute terrorist actions and that the threat may be severe enough to justify acting against these terrorists and those who harbour them, as and where required, as decided by the North Atlantic Council. Counter terrorist operations will be mainly joint operations and some units specifically trained in Counter Terrorist operations might be extremely effective. Furthermore, winning the trust of the local population through Psychological Operations and Information Operations is vital. The Concept addresses two broad roles for NATO’s involvement in Counter Terrorist operations:
Counter Terrorism - NATO in the lead
The Concept states that in order to carry out successful Counter Terrorism operations, NATO must have adequate Command and Control and intelligence structures, as well as forces trained, exercised and maintained at the appropriate readiness levels. While the capabilities needed to successfully execute Counter Terrorist operations are largely a subset of those needed to carry out more traditional joint operations, the manner in which the conflict will be fought will be different. Therefore the following planning aspects need special attention:
Counter Terrorism - NATO in support
The North Atlantic Council has decided that, on a case-by-case basis, the Alliance might agree to provide its assets and capabilities to support operations in defence against terrorism, undertaken by or in co-operation with the European Union or other International Organisations or coalitions involving Allies. Possible support for the European Union or other International Organisations will be based on relevant arrangements agreed between NATO and the organisation concerned. In this context, NATO’s support options could include the following:
There have been many discussions, in many organisations, about options to counter the threat posed by terrorism. A common theme in these discussions has been that military action alone will not be enough to deal with the terrorist threat and that military operations should be coordinated and implemented in a coherent manner with diplomatic, economic, social, legal and information initiatives.
Within most NATO nations, civil authorities, such as the police, customs and immigration authorities, finance ministries, interior ministries, intelligence and security services, are the primary agencies involved in dealing with terrorism and military forces will need to operate in support of, and in close coordination with all these agencies. The Concept therefore states that NATO must harmonise its procedures and efforts with civil authorities within nations in order to maximise its effectiveness against terrorism.
NATO regularly confers with the major international organisations such as the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Union. In addition, NATO has several programmes that can facilitate co-ordination outside the Alliance. These include the Partnership for Peace, the NATO/Russia Council, the NATO/Ukraine Commission and the Mediterranean Dialogue.
The Concept notes that the trust, transparency and interaction already developed through these relationships serve as an excellent vehicle for the further co-ordination of measures to combat terrorism and recommends that they should be further explored.
REQUIREMENTS FOR IMPLEMENTING THE CONCEPT EFFECTIVELY
The Concept identifies a number of essential capabilities that will be required to successfully implement it. These capabilities are:
In addition to the capabilities described above, the Concept identifies certain procedures that need to be developed or enhanced. These include:
The principal conclusions of the Concept are: