International security in today’s globalized world demands a framework responsive to interconnectedness, multiple power centers, shared vulnerabilities, and dramatic change. To meet these diverse challenges that affect the security of its members, NATO, as the West’s premier security organization, must reach beyond the transatlantic arena.

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It must link with other nations whose world views are comparable and whose capacities complement NATO’s strengths. NATO’s global partnerships are critical elements in providing an effective international security framework and, therefore, are a vital key to generating a stable and secure international system.

This report by Atlantic Council Board Director and Distinguished Fellow Franklin D. Kramer is the third that the Atlantic Council has issued in the last year focusing on how NATO needs to respond to the increasingly dynamic currents of history that the transatlantic nations face. What they all have reflected is that the world is at a turning point, where new powers are rising, new challenges are emerging, and long-practiced approaches to international security must be rethought. For NATO, the question is whether one of history’s great institutions can also become one of the future’s most relevant players. It won’t happen without change. 

Specifically, this report recommends NATO take the following ten actions: 

Military Operations:

1. Encourage its most effective operational partners to join the NATO Response Force (NRF).

2. Create an enhanced exercise schedule for partners and act as a clearinghouse to coordinate national-led multinational exercises.

3. Include its most effective partners in an operational chain of command for regional contingencies. 

Global Commons and Transnational Threats:

4. Develop, with partners, cyber security standards for partner operational networks.

5. Develop operational counterterror capacities with partners built around special operations forces.

6. Work with partners to maintain counterinsurgency and comprehensive approach capacities.

7. Develop a maritime force that works with partners in the Gulf, the littorals around Africa, and the Arctic.

Education, Training, and Mentoring:

8. Establish a clearinghouse budget category to organize and complement the many national efforts with partners in order to maximize effectiveness and utilize resources efficiently.

9. Expand long-term educational efforts regarding the proper role of a military in a democracy.

Strategic Cooperation:

10. Create Strategic Partnership Groups with its key Gulf and Middle East partners and with its Pacific partners.

Partners who have joined a Strategic Partnership Group and who are part of the NRF should have a right of consultation with NATO as NATO has extended to its Partnership for Peace (PfP) partners.

Other NATO reports

Related Experts: Franklin D. Kramer