In an era of turbulence and renewed geo-political competition, NATO faces new challenges at sea at a scale not seen for decades. But the maritime domain has been on the backburner at NATO for years, while Allies’ naval capabilities have withered or been reoriented. In response to this, the Atlantic Council has built up a body of work to help inform the rebuilding of NATO’s role in the maritime domain. The Council’s policy and strategy oriented work in this field includes, among other things, an outline for a new Alliance Maritime Strategy. The selected portfolio below seeks to broaden the understanding of the strategies, capabilities, and structures needed to make NATO a naval alliance again.
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Publications


Issue Brief
Updating NATO’s Maritime Strategy
Steven Horrell, Magnus Nordenman, Walter B. Slocombe

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Issue Brief
Back to the North
Magnus Nordenman

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Issue Brief
A Maritime Framework for the Baltic Sea Region
Franklin D. Kramer and Magnus Nordenman

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In an era of turbulence and renewed geo-political competition, NATO faces new challenges in the maritime domain at a scale not seen for decades. Russia’s resurgent navy is once again active in the North Atlantic, and could seriously threaten NATO’s reinforcement efforts across the Atlantic during a crisis or war. Russian warships and submarines are also operating in the Mediterranean, where they have fired cruise missiles against targets ashore in Syria. At the same time, Russia has constructed powerful anti-access/area-denial networks using both naval and ground assets in the Baltic and the Black Sea to stop NATO from reaching exposed member states in a crisis. To boot, many of the close encounters between aircraft from Russia and NATO occur in the maritime domain, and sometimes also involve warships from NATO nations. The turbulence around the southern Mediterranean also has implications for maritime security, with the violence in the Middle East and North Africa having spawned massive migrant flows across the Mediterranean, as well as other illicit activities in the maritime domain.

But the maritime domain has been on the backburner at NATO for over a decade, as the Alliance took on tough and land-centric missions from the Balkans to Afghanistan. Strategic inattention to NATO’s role in the maritime domain has persisted within the Alliance, while many Allies’ naval capabilities have withered or been reoriented. In response to this, the Atlantic Council has built up a body of work to help inform the rebuilding of NATO’s role in the maritime domain. The Council’s policy and strategy oriented work in this field also broadens the understanding of the strategies, capabilities, and structures needed to make NATO a naval alliance again, along with the Alliance’s important roles in the air, ground, and cyber domains. The Council’s work includes, among other things, a strategic review of the maritime domain and NATO’s role in it, an outline for a new Alliance Maritime Strategy, as well as an innovative framework for bolstering maritime capacities in the Baltic Sea, and a multi-national approach to rebuilding key maritime capabilities.

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