58th General Assembly

Atlantic Treaty Association

Rome, NATO Defense College, 6th February 2013

Modern Defense and Economic Development

Lt. Gen. Gian Marco Chiarini

Italian Representative to the NATO and EU Military Committees


My presentation is intended to provide an overview on the transformation NATO is facing and the future challenges we have to cope with. NATO has been engaged in a continuous and systematic transformation for many years to ensure that it has the policies, capabilities, and structures required, in the changing international security environment, to deal with current and future challenges, including of course the collective defense of its members. With Allied forces engaged in operations and missions across several continents, the Alliance needs to ensure that its armed forces remain modern, deployable and sustainable.

Generally speaking, since the birth of NATO, there have been three distinct periods within which NATO’s strategic thinking has evolved:

  • the Cold War period;

  • the immediate post-Cold War period;

  • the security environment after 9/11.

One could say that from 1949 to 1991, NATO’s strategy was principally characterized by defense and deterrence, although with growing attention to dialogue and détente for the last two decades of this period. From 1991 a broader approach was adopted where the notions of cooperation and security complemented the basic concepts of deterrence and defense.

  • From 1949 until the end of the Cold War, there were four Strategic Concepts;

    • “The Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic area”: 6 January 1950 (“…deter aggression…”);

    • “The Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Area”: 3 December 1952 (“…to ensure the defense of the NATO area and to destroy the will and capability of the Soviet Union and her satellites to wage war…”);

    • “Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the NATO Area”: 23 May 1957 (“…massive retaliation…”);

    • “Overall Strategic Concept for the Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Area”: 16 January 1968 (“….flexible response …”).

  • In the post-Cold War period, two Strategic Concepts have been issued.

    • “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept”, November 1991 (“…dialogue; co-operation; and effective collective defense...”);

    • “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept”, April 1999 (“…the Alliance’s fundamental tasks were security, consultation, and deterrence and defense, adding that crisis management and partnership were also essential to enhancing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.…”).

Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, NATO’s military thinking, resources and energy have given greater attention to the fight against terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In the meantime, NATO has committed troops beyond the Euro-Atlantic area and reached a membership of 28; new threats have emerged such as energy security and cyber-attacks. These are among the factors that brought Allied leaders to produce a new Strategic Concept in 2010 (“…comprehensive approach…”).

At the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, Alliance leaders reaffirmed their determination to ensure that NATO retains and develops the capabilities necessary to perform its essential core tasks collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security – and thereby to play an essential role promoting security in the world. Meeting the responsibility while dealing with an acute financial crisis and responding to evolving geo-strategic challenges.

The 2010 Strategic Concept “Active Engagement, Modern Defense” is a very clear and resolute statement on NATO’s core tasks and principles, its values, the evolving security environment and the Alliance’s strategic objectives for the next decade. After having described NATO as “a unique community of values committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law”, it presents NATO’s three essential core tasks - collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. On the slides the newest issues the concept introduced.

It provides an analysis of the strategic environment and a framework for all Alliance capability development planning disciplines and intelligence, identifying the kinds of operations the Alliance must be able to perform and setting the context in which the capability development takes place.

With the adoption of a new Strategic Concept, Alliance leaders committed to ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of Allies populations.

The Alliance is fundamentally restructuring its command structure to ensure that it is more effective, leaner and affordable. It will also be more agile, flexible and better able to deploy headquarters for remote operations as well as to protect Alliance territory. A framework for the new structure, without geographic locations for the various facilities, was agreed at the Summit meeting in Lisbon, 19-20 November 2010. Decisions on the locations themselves followed in the first half of 2011. The transition to the new structure has started late in 2012.

Allied Command Operations (ACO) is responsible for all Alliance operations. The command is located at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), near Mons, Belgium. ACO chain of command is composed by two JFCs three Service HQs and a CIS Group.

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is leading, at the strategic command level, the transformation of NATO’s military structure, forces, capabilities and doctrine. It is enhancing training, particularly of commanders and staffs, conducting experiments to assess new concepts, and promoting interoperability throughout the Alliance.

The Force Structure gathers the forces placed at the Alliance’s disposal by the member countries, along with their associated command and control structures. These forces are available for NATO operations in accordance with predetermined readiness criteria (HIGH and LOW, depending on materials availability and stand-by period) and with rules of deployment and transfer of authority to NATO command that can vary from country to country. It is important to underline that due to their nature (no direct link to the NCS) the Force Structure is sometimes in competition and not in coordination with the NCS. This is still an open issue and discussion is ongoing to find a proper solution. NDC-GR has recently asked to become HRF and some HRFs are in the process to transform them in Joint TFHQ.

In the same spirit, a major reform of NATO’s agencies is under development. In July 2012 a major milestone in the reform process was achieved, with the establishment of four new NATO Organizations, to rationalize and consolidate functions and responsibilities of nine NATO Agencies related to Support, Communications and Information, Procurement, and Science and Technology. The majority of them will be customer funded and this will produce significant savings in the shared budget.

The vision for NATO Forces in 2020 and beyond is one of modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment.

Fundamental to achieving this goal will be the improvement in the way NATO develops and delivers the capabilities NATO’s missions require. The two new concepts under development are Smart Defense and Connected Forces Initiative.

Smart Defense is at the heart of this new approach. In these times of austerity, each euro, dollar or pound counts. Smart defense is a new way of thinking about generating the modern defense capabilities the Alliance needs for the coming decade and beyond. It is a renewed culture of cooperation that encourages Allies to cooperate in developing, acquiring and maintaining military capabilities to undertake the Alliance’s essential core tasks agreed in the new NATO strategic concept. That means pooling and sharing capabilities, setting priorities and better coordinating efforts. The development and deployment of defense capabilities is first and foremost a national responsibility. But as technology grows more expensive, and defense budgets are under pressure, there are key capabilities which many Allies can only obtain if they work together to develop and acquire them. The decisions of Allies to take forward specific multinational projects, including: better protection of troops, better surveillance and better training was announced in Chicago. It will enhance NATO’s ability to meet the challenges faced in 2020 and beyond. These projects will deliver improved operational effectiveness, economies of scale, and closer connections between Allied forces.

The Connected Forces Initiative is an initiative to complement Smart Defense. It mobilizes all of NATO’s resources to strengthen the ability to work together in a truly connected way. Three are the areas where this Initiative could help to enhance our unique capacity to work together. They are: expanded education and training; increased exercises, especially with the NATO Response Force; and better use of technology.

NATO is also taking steps to enhance the linkages between its forces and with partner countries as well. The NATO operation over Libya showed once again the importance of such connections; as soon as the political decision was taken to initiate the NATO mission, Alliance pilots were flying wing to wing with each other, and with pilots from non-NATO European and Arab partner countries. That was essential to the military and political success of the mission. The aim is to build on that success. NATO will expand education and training of personnel, complementing in this way essential national efforts. Exercises will be enhanced. The bonds between the NATO Command Structure, the NATO Force Structure, and national headquarters will be strengthened.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed. It is comprised of three parts: a command and control element from the NATO Command Structure; the Immediate Response Force, a joint force of high-readiness troops provided by Allies; and a Response Forces Pool, which can supplement the Immediate Response Force when necessary. Discussion are undergoing on how NATO could bolster the NATO Response Force. A balanced approach is to be reached in order to use NRF both as a standby force and as a training tool so that it can play a greater role in enhancing the ability of Alliance forces to operate together and to contribute to NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.

NATO will also step up connections with Partners as much as possible, so we can act together, when desired. In terms of widening NATO’s engagement with key global actors and other new interlocutors with which a formal partnership does not exist, NATO is prepared to develop political dialogue and practical cooperation with any nation across the globe that shares its interest in peaceful international relations

Let me conclude quoting the introductory remarks of the Deputy Secretary General at the RIGA Summit in September last year, in which, I think, are condensed the future Alliance challenges’.