Updated: 15 June 1999 NATO Documents


Appendix A

Political-Military Framework
for NATO-led PfP Operations(*)

(*) On 8 February 2010 the North Atlantic Council agreed that the Political Military Framework for NATO-led PfP Operations (PMF) applies to all countries which are recognised by the Council as potential and actual non-NATO contributing nations in the context of a NATO-led operation, in the consultation, planning and execution phases of that operation. Any reference to PfP Partners in the PMF should therefore be taken to apply to all non-NATO contributing nations. The Council further authorised that tihs decision be reflected in the publicly released version of the PMF document.


  1. The purpose of this document is to establish "a political-military framework for NATO-led PfP operations to enable Partners to participate in the planning and execution of PfP activities as closely as is practically feasible and to ensure that Partners joining future NATO-led PfP operations be afforded appropriate opportunities to contribute to the provision of political guidance for and oversight over such operations" as mandated by Foreign Ministers on the basis of the Consolidated SLG Report on PfP Enhancement (NACC(PfP) (C) D (97)6). The main aim of this framework is to set out principles, modalities and other guidance for Partner involvement in political consultations and decision making, in operational planning and in command arrangements.

Scope and Context

  1. NATO-led PfP operations are defined as non-Article 5 operations utilising NATO's military structures and incorporating contributions from PfP countries, carried out under the ultimate decision-making authority of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) (1). Other types of non-Article 5 crisis response operations, e.g. involving only Allies, or various combinations of Allies, Partners and other countries operating under ad hoc arrangements, are possible but would need to be considered outside the scope of this political-military framework (PMF) and the mandate given for it.
  2. From a NATO perspective this PMF forms part of a wider framework of conceptual and practical documents and arrangements developed for the Alliance's new missions beyond collective defence. Other key elements of this wider framework are the new Strategic Concept, the new NATO military command structure, the CJTF Concept and its military implementation within the command structure with regard to CJTF headquarters elements, the defence planning process and NATO's new Operations Planning System.
  3. Within PfP this PMF forms part of a wider effort to achieve the overarching aims that guided the Senior Level Group (SLG) in its work on PfP enhancement: to develop a more operational role for PfP, to provide for greater involvement of Partners in PfP decision making and planning and to strengthen the political consultation element in PfP. It also contributes to the aim of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council as stated in the EAPC Basic Document to afford Partner countries, to the maximum extent possible, increased decision-making opportunities relating to activities in which they participate. Other, closely connected elements in this wider effort are the expanded and adapted Planning and Review Process (PARP) and the intensification of the military cooperation within PfP, including through training and exercises, multinational formations, PfP Staff Elements (PSE) in NATO military staffs and commands, peacetime working relationships and other measures aiming at enhancing the operational PfP.

Forms and Phases of Partner Involvement

  1. Partner involvement can in principle occur in two forms: through national representatives and through Partner officers in international positions. Whereas the former allows the direct representation of Partner views and interests, the latter is important as a recognition of the Partner contribution in a true partnership, and as a general contribution to establishing confidence and understanding among Partners and Allies and strengthening their solidarity. In political consultations and decision making the emphasis will almost exclusively be on national representation in committees and working groups; in command arrangements, on the other hand, the emphasis is very largely on the inclusion of Partner officers in international functions, although national liaison arrangements will also play a role. In operational planning both forms play an important role: the development of plans will essentially be in the hand of officers in international functions, the guidance for and approval of the plans will be for national representatives at Military Committee and North Atlantic Council level, on the basis of preparatory work done in other bodies.
  2. With regard to a specific operation and the appropriate Partner involvement, three phases can be distinguished: the consultation phase prior to initiation of military planning, the planning and consultation phase between initiation of military planning and execution of the operation, and the execution phase. In addition, for the purpose of this PMF, the period not related to any particular crisis or operation during which general preparations for possible Partner involvement in a NATO-led operation take place is referred to as non-crisis phase.
  3. During different phases it will be necessary or justified to distinguish between Partners in general and potentially contributing or contributing Partners. Potentially contributing Partners are those which are recognised as such by the Council on the basis of an indication that they are actively considering to contribute to a specific operation. This recognition is without prejudice to a later acceptance by Council as a contributing Partner, nor does it exclude the possibility that other Partners than those previously recognised as potential contributors could be accepted as contributing Partners. Contributing Partners are those that contribute forces/capabilities to a NATO-led operation or support it in other ways which the Council formally accepts, on the basis of military advice, as a contribution.

Non-crisis Phase

  1. During the non-crisis phase the qualification of Partners as contributing or potentially contributing is by definition not applicable. All Partners are given equal opportunities to prepare themselves for possible participation in NATO-led PfP operations through the tools of PfP, under the principle of self-differentiation. The extent to which they make use of these opportunities, however, may have an influence on the Council's decision to accept them as contributors or recognise them as potential contributors to a particular operation.
  2. Of key importance in this respect is the ability of Partner forces to operate together with Allied forces, and the ability of the NATO Military Authorities (NMAs) to assess the capabilities of any Partner forces offered as a contribution. The PARP with its Ministerial Guidance, Partnership Goals and Assessments plays a particularly valuable role in this respect, through developing Partners' understanding of the likely range of potential NATO-led PfP operations and the requirements and capabilities needed to sustain them, as well as increasing NATO's understanding of the scale and nature of potential Partner contributions. This would facilitate the separate certification assessment which would still be needed for specific operations. For Partners not participating in the PARP the Individual Partnership Programmes (IPPs) and the inclusion in them of activities offered under the Partnership Work Programme (PWP), notably the PfP exercise programme, as well as ad hoc arrangements to improve interoperability with NATO forces and allow assessments of the quality of their forces offer alternative opportunities to prepare themselves. The practical military cooperation between NATO and Partner forces and headquarters in training and exercise activities is of particular value in preparing for NATO-led PfP operations. Moreover, possible future new mechanisms to enhance military cooperation between Allies and Partner forces that may be available for NATO-led PfP operations, could play a major role in improving interoperability and providing a framework to assess the military effectiveness of potential future force contributions.
  3. Partner officers serving in international functions in the NATO/PfP framework, especially in PfP Staff Elements (PSE) may be involved in contingency planning for NATO-led PfP operations. When Nations are involved in planning, Partner participation will occur through the use of national liaison officers, or through appropriate involvement of Partner representatives at MC level, e.g. when relevant guidance for operational planning is being given or contingency plans for possible use in a NATO-led PfP operation are approved. This process can help to familiarise Partners with NATO operational planning, as can distribution of the relevant MC documents and supporting planning tools, plus involvement in appropriate aspects of crisis management exercises, all of which will help to reduce the necessary learning time in case of actual crises and operations.
  4. Establishing a detailed set of modalities for possible use in the command arrangements for a NATO-led PfP operation should essentially take place in the framework of the implementation of the CJTF Concept.

Consultation phase

  1. In the beginning of this phase, which is likely to emerge gradually out of the regular pattern of consultations on the security situation in the EAPC framework, all Partners should be equally involved. The emphasis will be on information exchange and sharing of assessments. This may change as the assessments of the situation move towards the possible conclusion that a NATO-led PfP operation may become necessary. At that stage, Partner countries considering a contribution to such an operation should make this known to NATO. This will constitute a first step towards being recognised as potential contributors. In providing information during this stage, NATO's response would take such indications into account and thus the interest of these Partners in receiving information as early and as fully as possible in order both to aid their deliberations on a possible involvement and to learn about the likely scope of their contribution.
  2. This consultation phase ends with the decision by the NAC to initiate military planning for a possible operation, a decision in principle that such an operation will include Partner participation, and the communication of this decision to Partners. In the final stages of this phase it would be in the interest of both the Partners concerned and the Allies if preliminary understandings emerged, partly on the basis of general consultations in the EAPC framework, partly on the basis of bilateral contacts between the respective Partner and the Alliance, on which Partners might be both willing and able to contribute to a NATO-led PfP operation. Ideally the formal recognition of potential contributors would take place when the decision to initiate military planning is taken, so that the political guidance given to the NMAs could already include this planning factor, and the appropriate information and involvement of the potential contributors could start as early as possible. The recognition of potential contributors can, however, also occur throughout the next phase.

Planning and Consultation Phase

  1. During this phase general consultations and information exchange will continue with all Partners in the EAPC framework. At the same time those Partners who have been recognised as potential contributors will be given appropriate opportunities to be informed of and involved in all relevant aspects of planning and other preparatory activities more deeply than others. To this end, consultations with respect to the planned operation will therefore also take place in an "Allies + n" format in relevant fora, including at MC level. Preparations for the command of a possible NATO-led PfP operation should include preparations for appropriate involvement of officers or headquarter modules from potential contributors. Potentially contributing Partners should be fully involved in the decision-shaping process by contributing to preparations of decisions to be taken by the NAC. This means that before the relevant planning documents (Concept of Operations, OPLAN) are approved, while respecting the ultimate decision making authority of the NAC, potentially contributing Partners should be offered opportunities to exchange views with the Allies and associate themselves with the decision. Partners, in case of non-consent, retain the option of dissociating themselves from the decision and, ultimately if deemed necessary, of withdrawing from their planned contribution. The force generation process should include potential contributors. While the NATO commander may choose first to contact Allied nations for possible troop contributions, he will also be authorised to contact Partner nations recognised as potential contributors early in the force generation process.
  2. During this phase and its transition to the execution phase the formal process of accepting and certifying Partner contributions will be initiated and ideally concluded before the execution starts, although if necessary it can also be concluded in the course of the operation. The objective is to begin the operation with Partner forces already integrated, as much as possible, into the multinational NATO-led force. This process may include steps such as the Alliance's invitation to Partners to confirm their intended contributions and to participate in the force generation process. It may also be found during the process that a Partner may not wish or be able to supply the type of capabilities sought by the NATO commander. The final composition of the group of contributing Partners will be determined by the exchange of Participation and Financial letters. Flexibility on this issue is paramount, so that e.g. contributions of Partners who provide periodic contributions on the basis of a troop rotation plan may be accounted for. Potential contributing Partners that do not become actual contributors will be kept informed as appropriate. With the individual contributing Partners being formally recognised, a pattern of Partner/Alliance interaction in further preparations will be established which is based on the three iterative steps of 1) NAC initiation - 2) Partner involvement in decision-shaping through consultations in the EAPC and other fora in Allies +n format - 3) NAC decision. The association of participating Partners with NAC decisions relating to the operation recognises the Partner interest in being involved in the decision-shaping process leading up to actual decisions and gives added political weight to the decisions. These proceedings at NATO HQ are complemented by involvement of contributing Partners in aspects of planning and the force generation process at the military level through the International Coordination Centre (ICC) at SHAPE and, where appropriate, through (temporary) liaison arrangements with the Strategic Commands and their Combined Joint Planning Staff (CJPS) at SHAPE.

Execution Phase

  1. The participation of contributing Partners in the process of providing political guidance and oversight will continue during the course of a NATO-led PfP operation whenever any further political guidance is required, to include significant changes in the OPLAN and the ROEs, in preparation of an 'exit strategy', and in the course of withdrawal planning. In parallel, all EAPC members, i.e. contributing as well as non-contributing Partners, will continue to be involved in information exchange and assessments as described for the consultation phase.
  2. The most direct involvement of contributing Partners during the actual conduct of an operation will be through force contributions and participation in command arrangements. Participation of Partners would depend on the actual command requirements for a given operation and on Partners' definite contributions of forces and capabilities. Proper participation of all contributing nations, generally reflecting the number of nations involved and their individual contributions, needs to be balanced against the principle of military effectiveness. The type of command arrangements for possible Partner participation should, where appropriate, follow the model of a CJTF HQ. Possible arrangements regarding PSE and Partner liaison, based on NMA advice, may also play a role.
  3. In principle, Partners would only fill posts in headquarters which are in the direct chain of command up to and including a CJTF HQ. In military headquarters superior to these HQs, particularly in HQs at the strategic level, contributing countries will normally be represented by liaison officers or military representatives as appropriate in order to satisfy Partner needs as well as NATO military requirements for a close coordination and exchange of information on military operational aspects during the conduct of an actual operation. Contributing Partners' participation may, however, also need to be catered for in other NATO military headquarters involved in planning or conduct of a PfP operation with Partners. The modular approach of the CJTF HQ concept by which Partner staff personnel or assets can augment an existing NATO HQ nucleus should serve as a basic model for Partner participation in all other types of military commands.
  4. For implementation of these guiding principles, the NMAs will complete current conceptual work for ensuring adequate Partner participation by using liaison officers and by the allocation of staff positions within NATO military headquarters. This work should include general criteria for allocation of posts in a military headquarter between NATO and Partners with regard to command and staff functions and the relationship to actual contributions of individual Partners to a given operation.

Related Work

  1. This Framework document will be complemented by work in other fora (e.g. PARP Ministerial Guidance; NMA work on Implementation of CJTF Concept and new Military Command Structure, Operational Planning, Use of Partner Liaison Officers for Specific Activities, Assessment/Certification of Partner Units; CJTF-related work on Intelligence Sharing / Security Agreements; Logistics and CIS concepts; legal and financial aspects. Further consideration will also be given to the case of spill-over from non-Article 5 operations to an Article 5 scenario. During this work, appropriate Partner involvement will have to be ensured. The Political-Military Framework for NATO-led PfP operations will be reviewed and updated if and when required by new developments in the Partnership and within the Alliance.


  1. Footnote 2 to paragraph 2 of Appendix 2 to Annex to the Consolidated SLG Report.