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Research Report

Transforming the NATO Military Command Structure:: A New Framework for Managing the Alliance’s Future

Brick T. Miller
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2003
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 33
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    NATO must once again transform its military command and force structures. In the aftermath of the Prague Summit in November 2002, the efforts of the various staffs and agencies, within and without NATO, are focused on three broad areas of change: New Capabilities, New Members, and New Relationships. Of these, New Capabilities has emerged as a priority because of the gap that has grown among the force capabilities of the members. The September 2002 Atlantic Council policy paper, New Capabilities: Transforming NATO Forces, concisely stated that addressing the necessity for new capabilities, “…presents a critical test for NATO leaders because...

  2. (pp. 3-9)

    For much of the 1990s, NATO and its member nations took advantage of the end of the Cold War and the subsequent “peace dividend.” The resultant change in NATO’s strategic concept, from one emphasizing collective defense to one more directed toward crisis response, found NATO deeply engaged in managing its assets in new roles. The Partnership for Peace (PFP) Program, crisis management and peace operations in the Balkans, relations with the European Union, the development of the European Security and Defense Identity, and economic considerations all served as catalysts for change in the NATO military command structure. In December 1997,...

  3. (pp. 10-13)

    One cannot discuss NATO these days or analyze any aspect of the future of the alliance without ending up discussing: why NATO, what NATO, and what is “transformation.” These three issues are addressed as basic assumptions for the analysis of the command and control requirements. NATO is relevant; it should remain a military coalition; and transformation has one definition, but many interpretations.

    NATO remains relevant and is in a position to increase its strategic importance. During a speech last October, then SACEUR, General Joseph Ralston, reminded his audience of this point when he stated:

    Make no mistake – NATO’s role...

  4. (pp. 14-19)

    During the Prague Summit in November 2002, the NATO leaders agreed that the Alliance required a new command structure to meet the full range of new Alliance missions. They decided to maintain two Level One strategic headquarters. The Strategic Command for Operations, based on the current SHAPE headquarters and staff, will remain in Mons, Belgium. Its major subordinate headquarters will be the basis of two land-based Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) headquarters and a sea-based CJTF headquarters. The Strategic Command for Transformation will be headquartered in Norfolk, while maintaining a presence in Europe. It will be responsible for transformation and...

  5. (pp. 20-21)

    The PCC stated that NATO should “create a NATO Response Force consisting of a technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable, and sustainable force including land, sea, and air elements ready to move quickly to wherever needed, as decided by the Council. The NRF will also be a catalyst for focusing and promoting improvements in the Alliance’s military capabilities.”27 This force is on a short timeline. It must have its initial operational capability not later than October 2004 and its full operational capability no later than October 2006.

    The importance of this force to the future of the Alliance cannot be overstated....

  6. (pp. 22-22)

    NATO is in an advantageous and timely position for reform. What began at the Prague Summit in November 2002 must be refined and developed. NATO must take measures to transform its military command structure. It must accomplish this in order to:

    manage Alliance resources effectively and efficiently;

    remain a relevant force for peace and stability;

    maintain its position as the world’s premier military alliance;

    close the capability gap that has developed among its members.

    It must be capable of growth and flexibility and be prepared for New Capabilities, New Members, and New Relationships. This command structure must manage and integrate...