Operationalizing the Comprehensive Approach

Julian Lindley-French, member of the Strategic Advisors Group (SAG), writes in the latest SAG Issue Brief about the need for the Strategic Concept to correctly address the issue of the Comprehensive Approach, or political-military cooperation.

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  • Strategic Concepts tend to have a life of ten years. The focus for the next ten years will doubtlessly remain Afghanistan and, for much of that period, allies will be engaged in hybrid operations under pressure to do more with less. For Canada and European allies, this will place a particular emphasis on tight civil-military synergies. Moreover, a broad approach to security is very much part of the emerging European strategic culture.
  • The Comprehensive Approach is the generation and application of security, governance and development services, expertise, structures and resources over time and distance in partnership with host nations, host regions, allied and partner governments and partner institutions, both governmental and non-governmental.
  • Given the drafting of the new Strategic Concept and the critical phase into which operations in Afghanistan have entered, all NATO headquarters should be encouraged to further experiment and to share their experiences to enhance the understanding of the Comprehensive Approach through Allied Command Transformation (ACT).
  • If the Comprehensive Approach is to work as it should, the concepts and doctrine underpinning such a cross-Alliance effort must also be matched by the effi cient generation and use of required resources, political will and strategic patience.

Strategic Advisors Group:

To tackle the tough issues facing NATO and the transatlantic community, the Atlantic Council created the Strategic Advisors Group (SAG). Co-chaired by Atlantic Council Chairman Senator Chuck Hagel and Airbus CEO Tom Enders, the SAG is comprised of North American and European preeminent defense experts. Founded in 2007 by then-Atlantic Council Chairman General James L. Jones, General Brent Scowcroft, and former Norwegian Minister of Defense Kristin Krohn Devold, the SAG provides timely insights and analysis to policymakers and the public on strategic issues in the transatlantic security partnership through issuing policy briefs and reports, hosting strategy sessions for senior civilian and military officials, and providing informal expert advice to decision-makers.

Recent Atlantic Council NATO Publications:

  • Reforming and Modernizing NATO Defense Education
  • NATO, Terrorism and Irregular Threats
  • STRATCON 2010: An Alliance for a Global Century
  • Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO’s Strategic Concept
  • NATO Defense Capabilities: A Guide for Action
  • NATO Initiatives for an Era of Global Competition
  • NATO’s Nuclear Policy in 2010
  • NATO Reform and Decision-Making
  • Article 5 and Strategic Reassurance
  • The U.S., NATO and the EU: Partnership in the Balance
  • The Challenge: NATO Amidst Geopolitical Realities
  • A New Transatlantic Compact for NATO

The SAG and its activities are generously sponsored by the Scowcroft Group, EADS North America, and Airbus.