Since its launch on Monday 27th November, the Final Report for GLOBSEC’s NATO Adaptation Initiative has certainly been making waves in the right places.

Beyond unveiling the initial recommendations, our Brussels event was also a platform for further intriguing discussions on the importance and scope of NATO Adaptation. These included:

  • The need for more unified NATO responses to the growing threat posed by hybrid- and hyper-warfare
  • Ensuring that the NATO 2% spending benchmark takes into account the need for greater adaptation
  • How and why a strategic review will not only help to foment adaptation but also rejuvenate the political dimension of the Alliance
  • The need for a procurement strategy that prioritises ‘must have’ over ‘nice to have’
  • Arguments for and obstacles to creating an adapted NATO mindset

Since Monday, media coverage of the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative has also been widespread. On the international level, POLITICO highlighted the need for NATO to complement its adaptation efforts with strategic partnerships with emerging powers, most notably China. Doing so will help the Alliance to respond to the renewed threats posed by Russia and a rapidly evolving security landscape.

The UK’s Daily Express added to concerns over a resurgent Russian Federation by highlighting the ongoing threats posed by a belligerent North Korea. Its coverage also highlighted the Steering Committee’s concern that NATO “risks falling behind the pace of political change and technological developments that could alter the character of warfare”. Put simply, the Alliance is not ready for future wars.

It’s a warning that was echoed by Newsweek’s coverage of the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative. Their coverage also highlighted concerns that the Alliance’s strategic vulnerabilities make reform an imperative. These include NATO’s current inability to fight a ‘hyper war’ involving the combination of conventional military force, cyber warfare, and terrorist tactics. As Breitbart reports, one potential solution offered by the Steering Committee is that NATO develops its own version of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This would help the Alliance to develop the technological wherewithal to conduct hybrid warfare, and more.

Monday’s event also provided opportunities for more personal conversations with Steering Committee members. For instance, EURACTIV spoke in depth to General (Retd.) John R Allen and Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, a former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO. Their conversation emphasised, among other issues, the role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) must play in NATO adaptation. As General Allen sees it, harnessing the full potential of AI will help the Alliance to be agile enough to cope with the unprecedented speed of action and decision-making associated with hyper war.

We concluded our Brussels event by presenting the Final Report of the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative to the current NATO Deputy-Secretary General, Rose Gottmoeller. In doing so, we hope our findings and recommendations provide the Alliance with ample food for thought in the build up to next year’s NATO Brussels Summit. This is particularly true of our suggestion that NATO leaders commission a strategy review to be completed ahead of the seventieth anniversary Summit in 2019, which will, in turn, be embodied in a new Strategic Concept.

While we are delighted by the level of coverage that the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative has already received, we are determined to maintain momentum. As things currently stand, members of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute are busy preparing articles and opinion pieces on related subjects for various media outlets. Please keep an eye on our website and social media channels over the coming weeks and months for further updates, articles and opinion pieces.

The need for a NATO that is fully capable of dealing with today’s increasingly unpredictable security landscape has never been greater. It has been a privilege to contribute to the debate for widespread and far-reaching NATO adaptation. But there’s a lot more work to be done.