Charting NATO’s Next Chapter: From Afghanistan to Ukraine and Beyond

As NATO charts plans for its coming drawdown in Afghanistan and its future beyond the 2014 Summit, Russia will loom large on NATO’s agenda as the unfolding crisis in Ukraine alters US and European strategies. At the same time, NATO must confront a dearth of political and financial investment, threats emanating from Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, and adapt to face emerging security challenges. In short, NATO must formulate a strategy to address 21st century challenges while simultaneously maintaining its traditional collective defense and deterrence guarantees.

On March 19, 2014, the Atlantic Council and the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies convened top transatlantic policymakers and experts in Oslo to discuss these issues facing NATO.

The conference began with opening remarks by Norwegian Minister of Defense, Ine Eriksen Søreide, who conveyed her views on the worrying developments in Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s “unacceptable actions” in Crimea and the implications for NATO. Minister Søreide argued that NATO must balance its three core missions, collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security, rather than focus too heavily on one at the expense of the others, to best guarantee member states’ autonomy and security.

(Full text of the Minister’s speech can be found on the Norwegian Ministry of Defense’s website here.)

The conference also featured other top policymakers and experts on NATO and transatlantic security issues alongside Atlantic Council experts, including H.E. Thrasyvoulos Terry Stamatopoulos, NATO assistant secretary general for political affairs and security policy; Karl-Heinz Kamp, academic director of the German Federal Academy for Security Policy; and Sven Holtsmark, director of the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies.

An off-the-record policy workshop took place following the conference, where a small group of experts who participated in the conference discussed next steps for the transatlantic community regarding the unfolding crisis in Ukraine and the new security landscape in Eastern Europe. Additionally, participants discussed deliverables for the upcoming NATO Summit, including strengthening NATO’s cyber defense and assessing the Framework Nation Concept as a way for NATO to bolster its capabilities in the midst of diminishing defense budgets.

This conference was part of the Transatlantic Security Initiative’s NATO in an Era of Global Competition project, an eighteen-month effort to examine the new set of challenges and opportunities NATO is likely to face, in order to develop relevant concepts for the Alliance’s core priorities in the future.