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NATO’s Institutional Environment: the New Strategic Concept Endorses the Comprehensive Approach

In document DIIS REPORT (Page 75-83)

Niels Henrik Hedegaard *

NATO operations in the Balkans and not least in Afghanistan have made it clear that we require a comprehensive approach by all parts of the international community involving a wide range of both military and civilian tools in order to effectively meet current challenges. Military means are of course essential to keep the peace or to fight insurgents, but they are not enough to create lasting stability and development. For that, local authorities capable of delivering basic services with the support of the local population are the only solution. In order to support local authorities, civilian expertise is needed in the form of advisors and trainers as well as aid and investments. When it comes to building local security forces, military and law enforcement expertise is of course required. All tools in the crisis management toolbox are needed and their employment has to be planned and coordinated based on a shared assessment of the local circumstances. Such an approach would be a truly Comprehensive Approach to crisis management, taking into account both military and civilian instruments.

The lessons identified are often summarised in the statement: no security without development and no development without security.

The New Concept fully endorses the Comprehensive Approach In the New Strategic Concept the Alliance fully endorses the need for a Comprehensive Approach and commits itself to working more closely with international partners, most notably the UN and the EU, in preventing crises, managing conflicts and sta-bilising post-conflict situations. The New Strategic Concept also contains a number of concrete steps to further improve NATO´s ability to engage with civilian actors.

These include the formation of an appropriate but modest civilian crisis-management capability in NATO, which, among other things, will help NATO to interface more effectively with civilian partners.

A Danish priority

The Danish Government has been working to promote a more comprehensive ap-proach to crisis management in NATO since 2005, when Denmark hosted a high

* The author writes in a personal capacity.

level seminar in Copenhagen on the topic. The Danish Defence Agreement of 2004 had underlined the need for an improved ability to coordinate Danish military and civilian tools in crisis management. The main conclusion from the 2005 NATO seminar was the need for a more systematic approach in NATO – fewer ad-hoc solu-tions and more planning and preparation. At the summit in Riga in November 2006 NATO decided to initiate work on how to achieve this by looking at NATO’s own procedures and at how to improve the cooperation with other international actors including NGOs. At the Bucharest Summit in April 2008 NATO Heads of State and Government endorsed an action plan containing a set of pragmatic proposals to develop and implement NATO´s contribution to a Comprehensive Approach. At the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit in April 2009, a first stocktaking of the implementation of the Action Plan was done and further work in a number of areas was launched. At the Lisbon Summit this work resulted in a number of concrete decisions and directions for further work and, not least, in the New Strategic Concept where NATO com-mits fully to a Comprehensive Approach in crisis management. The overall message from Lisbon is that NATO is ready to engage with others when it comes to security – including meeting new threats and challenges.

What NATO has done

Implementing the Comprehensive Approach has and will continue to bring change both within the Alliance and in its relations with other actors. Over the last decade and a half NATO has developed its procedures and directives for planning to take better account of both military and civilian aspects of crisis management. Engage-ments with other actors including NGOs have also been in focus, but progress here has been more modest. Both areas remain high on the agenda. Inside the Alliance one can point to a number of improvements and results, which naturally mainly relate to the engagement in Afghanistan.

Building local support and contacts through the so-called CIMIC (Civil–Military Cooperation) teams was and is an essential tool for NATO forces in the Balkans and in Afghanistan. CIMIC teams are composed of military personnel but their function is to liaise with local authorities and civilian actors in the area in order to secure their support behind the military presence. The teams can support local projects of mutual benefit from the limited pool of development funds they normally administer. NATO has a Centre of Excellence for CIMIC in the Netherlands which provides training and advice, and CIMIC is one of the elements of the Comprehensive Approach as it promotes dialogue and contact between the military and civilian actors, not least

local authorities. NATO has also strengthened the identification of lessons learned from operations when it comes to civil–military cooperation through NATO’s Les-sons Learned Centre (JALLC), which is part of NATO’s Transformation Command (ACT). There is now a more systematic approach to collecting and analysing lessons learned, and lessons learned from Afghanistan have played an important role in the further development of the Comprehensive Approach.

NATO has furthermore established a database with national civilian experts available to advise and to assist in crisis management operations within their areas of expertise.

The need for more civilian experts available at short notice and ready to work in theatre is a common challenge for all nations.

In Afghanistan the concept of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) where civilian and military representatives work side-by-side to coordinate efforts to improve govern-ance and secure development and stabilisation, has been developed and is supported by NATO. Both CIMIC teams and civilians representing national development and aid organisations as well as various ministries normally work in the framework of the PRT. There are now 27 such teams in Afghanistan working closely with the local Afghan authorities and the various international actors who are active in the regions.

It is important to note that the PRT is only a vehicle for coordination. The leader of a PRT has no command and control over the other actors. The mission is to support the local authorities and ensure better coordination of efforts. Over time national and regional plans have been developed as a result of these efforts and they now guide the efforts of both the international community and the local authorities.

The post of NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan has also been strengthened and now plays an important role in the overall political–strategic coordination of NATO’s efforts with those of other actors, notably the UN and the EU and, not least, also with Afghan authorities. NATO’s Military Commander in Afghanistan and the NATO Senior Civilian Representative are working closely together to ensure a more Comprehensive Approach.

NATO has also embraced more fully a counterinsurgency strategy in its doctrines, plans and operations, combining military efforts with development and support to local authorities, not least in building local security forces. In this respect NATO has supported the Afghan Government in developing a transition plan for how progress in development and governance will result in the gradual transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan authorities.

What will NATO do in the future?

It is important to stress that NATO is not trying to take over responsibilities from others – neither in Afghanistan nor in future conflicts or crises. NATO will continue to do what it does best, namely to provide a robust set of political and military capabilities. This is the message from the summit in Lisbon. As a rule stabilisation and reconstruction are best undertaken by those actors and or-ganisations that have the relevant expertise, mandate and competences – like the UN, EU and NGOs and of course local authorities. However, there needs to be close cooperation and coordination between all actors – both before and during a crisis management engagement. This is the core of a Comprehensive Approach.

There can, however, be exceptions where circumstances may prevent other actors from undertaking their tasks, or from undertaking them without NATO support.

NATO must therefore have the ability to plan for, employ and coordinate civilian as well as military crisis management capabilities that nations provide for agreed Allied missions. In other words, if the security situation keeps other actors away then NATO must ultimately be able to use national civilian capabilities in order to support stabilisation and reconstruction in the area, but this will remain an exceptional situation that will only last as long as other actors are not able to take on their normal responsibility. This is the situation in many areas of Afghanistan, notably in Helmand. Both the ‘rule’ and the ‘exception’ require NATO to have the necessary civilian expertise to engage with others in all phases of crisis man-agement and, if necessary, to employ and coordinate civilian activities. This was one of the key decisions at the NATO summit in Lisbon. NATO’s headquarters in Afghanistan already have many civilian members of staff. This also needs to be the case ‘at home’ not least at the Operational Command in Mons and at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

Lisbon decisions on NATO’s ability to engage in a Comprehensive Approach

In order to appreciate the many decisions taken in Lisbon it is important to realise that the Comprehensive Approach starts at home – before engagement. NATO is therefore committed to engaging actively with other international actors before, during and after crises. The aim must be to encourage collaborative analysis, plan-ning and conducting of activities on the ground, in order to maximise coherence and effectiveness of the overall international effort. Even when conflict comes to an end, the international community must often provide continued support to create the conditions for lasting stability.

The many concrete decisions taken at Lisbon to enhance NATO’s contribution to a Comprehensive Approach cover all phases of crisis management:

• NATO will aim to better predict when crises might occur and how they can best be prevented. Early warning means early and orderly planning but also, of course, early engagement to manage a crisis and prevent its deterioration.

• NATO will further develop doctrine and military capabilities for expeditionary operations including counterinsurgency, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts.

This will continue to influence NATO’s defence planning process, capability building and doctrinal work.

• NATO will form an appropriate but modest civilian crisis management capability to interface more effectively with civilian partners, building on the lessons learned from NATO-led operations. This capability may also, as already mentioned, be used to plan, employ and coordinate civilian activities until conditions allow for the transfer of those responsibilities and tasks to other actors. The civilian expertise must become an integrated part of existing NATO structures and commands.

NATO has yet to decide the precise number of experts and their location.

• NATO will further enhance integrated civilian–military planning throughout the crisis spectrum.

• NATO will develop the capability to train and develop local forces in crisis zones, so that local authorities are, as quickly as possible, able to maintain security without international assistance.

• NATO will identify and train civilian specialists from member states, made avail-able for rapid deployment by allies for selected missions, to enavail-able them to work alongside NATO military personnel and also civilian specialists from partner countries and institutions.

• NATO will, finally, broaden and intensify political consultations among allies and with partners, both on a regular basis and in dealing with all stages of a crisis – before, during and after.

These decisions, which are set out in the New Strategic Concept and the Lisbon Sum-mit Declaration, will now be implemented and turn the Comprehensive Approach into a reality visible in NATO bodies, policies, doctrines, capabilities etc.

NATO’s relations with other actors

Local authorities are of course the most important actors, as they will eventually have to take full responsibility. But in the initial phase they are often weak and

unable to engage effectively. A Comprehensive Approach will assist local authori-ties by engaging them in coordination and planning and thereby also building local capacity for the future. The need for civilian experts to advise and assist local authorities remains a key component, which is why NATO will do more to identify and train such national civilian experts. The NATO Defence Planning process is one vehicle for focusing nations’ efforts on the need for such capabili-ties and on the critical issue of availability. NGOs have often been in crisis areas for decades – they know the local situation and are important partners. They put great emphasis on preserving the humanitarian space – avoiding being seen as part of the conflict – as do many international organisations. This is a reality that NATO of course needs to respect and take into account, but it does not exclude engagement and cooperation, especially outside the area of conflict. Continued dialogue is essential to ensuring the broadest and deepest possible cooperation given local circumstances and the views and experiences of the NGOs. There will be no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to developing NATO’s NGO contacts.

The UN and the EU are very important partners for NATO. The New Strategic Concept underlines the importance of the UN Charter and affirms the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. Further steps were taken in Lisbon to deepen political dialogue and practical cooperation with the UN, as set out in the UN–NATO Declaration signed in 2008, including through:

• Enhanced liaison between the two headquarters

• More regular political consultations

• Enhanced practical cooperation in managing crises where both organisations are engaged

For some time NATO has had both a military and a civilian liaison officer at UN headquarters in New York. The presence of a civilian NATO representative in par-ticular has served to stimulate interest in NATO and what NATO and the UN can do together.

The New Strategic Concept underlines that the EU is a unique and essential NATO partner. The EU and NATO share the majority of their members, and all members of both organisations share common values. There is a need for and space for both organisations and they should play complementary and mutually reinforcing roles in supporting international peace and security. NATO recognises the importance of stronger and more capable European defence and welcomes the entry into force of

the Lisbon Treaty, which provides a framework for strengthening the EU’s capacities to address common security challenges.

But we all know that there are barriers to a closer cooperation. Where you stand in this discussion depends on where you sit. Seen from the EU it is a problem that NATO has not concluded a security agreement with one member state (Cyprus), which is consequently barred from all meetings and from receiving any NATO documents.

Seen from NATO it is a problem that the original understanding that all Allies should be offered full involvement in the European security and defence cooperation (as they were in the Western European Union [WEU] and the Western European Armaments Group [WEAG]) has been partly ignored (even for European non-EU allies) and that one ally (Turkey) is barred from taking part in the European Defence Agency – again because of the lack of a security agreement. Members of both organisations would like to break through this deadlock. Both the NATO Secretary General and the EU High Representative have been asked to work towards finding solutions and they are both very committed to this, but any progress requires full agreement in both organisations including on how to take the necessary steps in parallel. Clearly this is a very unsatisfactory situation. The rationale for close cooperation is a so called ‘no brainer’ as the Americans would say. Fortunately informal contacts are tolerated and in operations there seems to be a growing acceptance that both informal contact and informal cooperation are needed. The alternative could be loss of lives and certainly a waste of resources, which naturally is wholly unacceptable. The New Strategic Concept sets out a number of objectives and principles which will hopefully serve to facilitate a breakthrough or at least substantial progress:

• NATO will fully strengthen the strategic partnership with the EU in the spirit of full mutual openness, transparency, complementarity and respect for the autonomy and institutional integrity of both organisations.

• NATO will enhance the practical cooperation in operations throughout the crisis spectrum, from coordinated planning to mutual support in the field.

• NATO will broaden the political consultations to include all issues of common concern, in order to share assessments and perspectives.

• Finally, NATO will cooperate more fully in capability development, to minimise duplication and maximise cost-effectiveness.

NATO will also continue to engage with other international organisations such as the OSCE, The African Union and UN organisations like the International Mari-time Organisation (IMO). In future crises and operations the ambition will be to

have contacts with all relevant actors – NATO needs to be able to ‘plug and play’

with all. Such contacts should be established in advance and then intensified when the need arises.

New challenges

It is not just the traditional challenges of bringing peace and stability to conflict areas that require a Comprehensive Approach. Twenty-first century challenges such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons and dangerous materials, the threat of cyber warfare, threats to energy supplies and to international transport routes can, likewise, only be met with a combination of military and civilian instruments. The mix of instruments and their relative weight will depend on the nature of the threat and the concrete circumstances. Thus, the Comprehensive Approach is likely to be at the core of the international community’s efforts to counter the challenges and threats to international security in the 21st century.

Conclusion

Experience from NATO operations has demonstrated that coordination among mili-tary and civilian actors is essential to achieving the key objectives of lasting stability and security. NATO is therefore working to improve its ability to ‘plug and play’ with other actors. These contacts need to be developed before they are needed, so that they can be activated for real when a concrete challenge arises. NATO is not aiming to coordinate or direct the work of others. Only the UN or the local authorities could take up such a responsibility. NATO’s ambition is that the various instruments in the crisis management toolbox are used in a coordinated and effective way so as not to waste resources and, especially, to achieve results. NATO is not out to compete with others but to ensure that the international community becomes better at employing the full range of tools from the toolbox we possess together. It makes perfect sense.

Our public expects nothing less. But it is a challenge that will remain with us. With the new Strategic Concept, NATO is among the most forward-leaning actors when it comes to asking others to cooperate. NATO is ready but it takes two to tango, and other actors will hopefully also fully adopt and embrace the Comprehensive Approach.

In document DIIS REPORT (Page 75-83)