Fifty years ago, the Harmel Report “has shown that the Alliance is a dynamic and vigorous organization which is constantly adapting itself to changing conditions.” The Warsaw Summit (2016) and the Brussels Meeting (2017) of Heads of State and Government updated to the new security scenario the Harmel strategy of “deterrence and defense”. As a result, the adaptation of NATO is effectively ongoing and will be further implemented by the July 2018 Summit in Brussels.
At present, this adaptation process implies the upgrade of the NATO military command structure, its forces and related capabilities, which require a more equal burden and risk sharing. The Alliance is striving to define a new security equation based on fair quantitative as well as qualitative parameters. This is a fundamental objective in order to strengthen the Transatlantic Bond and continue to assure the indivisibility of security between the United States and Europe.
Moreover, looking to Russia, the Harmel Report is telling us that “Military security and a policy of détente are not contradictory but complementary”. While the “pursuit of détente must not be allowed to split the Alliance”, today a more effective strategy towards the Russian Federation, able to combine deterrence and defense together with dialogue, remains difficult to be achieved.
Finally, taking into consideration the defense problems of the South-Eastern Flank and the Mediterranean, the Harmel Report states that “The North Atlantic Treaty area cannot be treated in isolation from the rest of the world. Crises and conflicts arising outside the area may impair its security either directly or by affecting the global balance.” In this perspective, the NATO “projection of stability” towards the Mediterranean is essential and the establishment of a Regional Hub for the South at the Allied Joint Force Command Naples goes in the right direction.
While the Harmel Report was paving the way to the today NATO 360° approach – ranging from the North to the South – the present threats and challenges to the Alliance are also of different nature. Furthermore, they are arising globally with unprecedented speed.
President Trump address in Riyadh on terrorism, religion and security, as well as the new cyber operational domain, the new form of hybrid warfare, the migration crisis, the climate change and the scarcity of water in critical regions, are outlining how security can no longer be identified with the static military territorial defense of the state borders. Rather, security has become today a dynamic concept, which requires projection of forces, military mobility, adequate capabilities, as well as projection of stability through capacity building measures.
In this new security environment, the cooperative security approach is mandatory and the recent progress in the NATO-EU cooperation should be further enhanced. However, it will also be important to avoid any risk of duplication or competition.
The NATO 360° approach is a relevant step forward but is not enough, as it concerns only the external dimension of the Alliance. Looking to the Future Tasks, NATO should considers also an internal dimension, which requires an additional degree of action, and the development of a proper strategic communication, able to strengthen the Transatlantic Bond and to recommit NATO member countries and their civil societies to the fundamental values and goals of the Alliance through the development of an effective communication strategy.
This has been a major role of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) since 1954. Nonetheless, today ATA is much more than an Association. With an yearly average of five hundred events and programs in over thirty eight countries, ATA is translating security needs in concrete actions by connecting the international and national institutions, together with the key decision makers, the business community, the wider public opinion, and, in particular, the successor generations. This wide activity confers ATA a crucial role in supporting the Unity and Resolve of the Alliance, which is necessary to effectively cope with the Future Tasks that NATO will address in the July 2018 Summit.