NATO Changes to Meet New Threats
NATO Changes to Meet New
By Jim Garamone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – October 2, 2014 – Throughout its history, many people have forecast
the death of the NATO alliance, but it has remained relevant and is set for
another transformation, Danish Army Gen. Knud Bartels, the chairman of the NATO
Military Committee, said today.
Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, NATO's Military
The chairman of the Military Committee directs the day-to-day
business of the committee, NATO's highest military authority, and acts on its
behalf, according to the NATO website.
NATO’s transformation will be an inherently different one
than in the past, Bartels said at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast.
Over its history, the alliance has transformed any number of
times, Bartels said. The alliance went from a strategy of massive retaliation to
one of flexible response. It went from a small Western alliance aimed at a
single enemy to a large alliance of like-minded nations sharing and defending
shared values. It went from a North Atlantic/European alliance to fighting a war
in Central Asia. It has incorporated new capabilities like missile defense and
focused on new defenses like operations in the cyber realm.
Bartels sees a new transformation underway, but one that is
fundamentally different than in the past.
“We are living in a world where everything takes place with
emails, Twitter, Facebook, et cetera, et cetera,” he said. “This means that the
long adaptation we have seen with our previous transformations will be an
accelerated process, both at the military and political level.”
Threats will continue for the alliance, he said, and while it
needs to look forward, it also needs to look to the past.
The challenge that Russia presents with its occupation of the
Ukrainian region of Crimea and threats to eastern Ukraine is one example,
Bartels said. Russia launched what is now being called a hybrid campaign against
The hybrid campaign, he said, is characterized by a mixture
of conventional forces, unconventional forces, and information warfare.
Hybrid warfare not new
Bartels said hybrid warfare is not new. “You see the way the
Soviet Union dealt with Finland during the first Soviet-Finnish War in
1939-1940,” he said. “If you see later on how the Soviet Union implemented its
power in what became the Warsaw Pact. Maybe we have not been paying sufficient
attention to it.”
The general said NATO knows how to counter such a campaign
and is putting in place counters to the various tactics inherent in hybrid
One problem, he said, is the speed of decision-making on the
Russian side. “This is characteristic of the system today and is a challenge to
an alliance built on consensus of 28 [members],” Bartels said. “That needs to be
addressed at the political level, but the summit at Wales made it quite clear
that the allies are aware of the challenge and I am quite confident that the
allies are ready to act accordingly when the necessity arises.”
Bartels said he addressed the threat in Vilnius, Lithuania,
the site of the most recent meeting of the alliance’s Military Committee.
Lithuania is one of the Baltic Republics once a part of the Soviet Union and a
possible target of a Russian hybrid campaign.
“I expressed that should a nation or number of nations chose
to challenge the integrity of the allies, they will be facing the full might of
the most powerful military alliance in the world,” Bartels said. “I said it on
purpose -- very clearly and very confident in Vilnius -- one of the Baltic
General Petr Pavel, Chief of the General Staff of Armed
Forces of the Czech Republic, was elected to succeed Bartels as the next
chairman of the NATO Military Committee when Bartels is expected to step down in
June 2015, according to the NATO website.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
Danish Army Gen. Knud Bartels
Special Report: Operation Atlantic Resolve