NATO's Strategic Concept

By Craddock, John | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

NATO's Strategic Concept


Craddock, John, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


Chairman Kerry, ranking member Lugar, distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for asking me to appear before this committee today to testify on the NATO strategic concept. As my last assignment on active duty ending on the 2nd of July this year was as the supreme allied commander of operational NATO forces I will initially focus my comments on the military perspective of the strategic concept that is to be developed by NATO over the coming year followed by addressing other key NATO issues that I believe may be germane to this committee's areas of interest; First I firmly believe the development of the strategic concept must include timely and relevant input by the NATO military authorities not only from the military committee but also from the supreme commanders for operations and transformation. This input is essential to inform the process of just what the two components of NATO's military forces the command structure and the force structure currently are capable of and what changes or adjustments to those forces might be required based on the strategy development. While the military committee interfaces directly with the North Atlantic Council the NAC as it is known and is the recognized body in NATO to provide the NAC military advice only commanders are responsible and accountable for NATO forces and therefore may have distinctly different views than the military committee. That plus the fact the advice they may render is not a result of a consensus process compels me to advocate that the strategic commanders be consulted in the strategy concept development process. Second much of the 1999 strategic concept document is still relevant today. For example a sentence from paragraph 4 is particularly cogent : " it ( the alliance ) must maintain collective defence and reinforce the transatlantic link and ensure a balance that allows the european allies to assume greater responsibility;" indeed all good words. The challenge today as then is not in the development of what NATO wants to do, should do, or feels compelled to do. The challenge for NATO is matching its level of ambition with its political will to resource the means to accomplish its ambitions or more specifically creating and sustaining military capability. The development of strategy -- or a strategic concept must address a vision of the end state, the ways possible to accomplish that vision, and the means or the resources needed to create the required capabilities. The 2010 strategic concept must unlike its predecessor address the ways and means. Absent that once again the disconnect between the vision or level of ambition and the political will to commit the resources will continue. And while potentially a product of the consensus process the use of such terms and phrases as "allows greater participation" in practice is not strong enough to accomplish the specified intent of greater burden sharing. If the intent is for the next NATO strategic concept to strengthen the alliance then that document must be written to mandate "opting in " not accommodate " opting out"! Thirdly this strategic concept must address the development by both NATO collectively and nations individually of capabilities specified as required in the strategy. Capability development in the alliance is a complex and difficult task. Defense shares of national budgets are shrinking among NATO member nations. The strategic concept must address this critical area not only from the context of balancing both NATO and national investments but additionally opening linkages to regional and international organizations to enhance this military capability development. Lastly may I offer two related points of consideration. First as we have seen repeatedly over the last several years in every military operation undertaken the civil military component to operations is critical and must receive more attention. The 1999 strategic concept gave this area short shrift about 7 sentences! …

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