Memorandum submitted by Randolph C Kent
on the Future of NATO
It is clear that NATO has the capacity to provide
significant assistance to those affected by disasters and emergencies.
To date, NATO has begun to develop a disaster early warning system
as well as an ability to respond to various types of disasters
within Europe. However, there are four sets of issues that NATO
will have to consider particularly carefully as it embarks upon
such undertakings; the types of humanitarian crises that will
have to be confronted within the foreseeable future; appropriate
civilian-military planning structures; key operational issues
affecting civilian-military activities; and geographical reach.
The agents of future disasters will encompass
a broader range of hazards than now, from terrorism to infrastructural
decay, from global warming to economic collapse. Moreover, these
hazards are likely to become more inter-active. Future disasters
and emergencies may well reflect the interplay among seemingly
diverse factors such as technology, the environment and security.
A considerable amount of attention has been
paid to individual disaster agents and, to a lesser extent, to
the contexts in which such agents may impact. Little if any attention
has been paid to how different types of disaster agents and potential
areas of impact inter-relate and how they can trigger large-scale
If NATO is truly to play a significant role
in supporting humanitarian assistance in the future, it will have
to have a more developed concept about the types of humanitarian
issues that will have to be confronted in the future. Towards
that end, greater attention must be made by member-states to develop
integrated and coherent futures analyses leading to scenario-building
and training as well as to integrated early warning and monitoring
In the context of NATO's future support role
in humanitarian assistance, greater attention will have to be
given to the ways that the military components of NATO interact
with a broad spectrum of civilian actors. This issue has become
a common-place in civilian-military discussions, but has failed
to result in the sorts of arrangements that future humanitarian
crises will require.
The military and civilian sector, particularly
when it comes to non-governmental actors, will have to pay far
greater attention to ways of planning together and to ways, in
the midst of operations, of adjusting such plans collaboratively.
Planning in this context often has less to do with methods than
mind-sets, and for this reason various ways to acculturate the
main actors into their respective operational and planning modalities
might well be the principal consideration.
Towards that acculturation objective, NATO could
develop secondment policies that could reach out into the non-governmental
sector as well as other areas of the humanitarian world. It, too,
could develop inter-institutional planning processes to ensure
close military-civilian planningas has recently been initiated
between humanitarian and military actors in the United Kingdom,
under the auspices of MOD.
Related to above, NATO could take the lead in
addressing the sorts of operational difficulties that arise now
and may well arise more frequently during times of difficult humanitarian
crises. Such issues span a range of considerations, including
the military's approach to its primary projection role, utilisation
of military resources in support of civilian operations,
security and exit strategies.
In each of the complex emergencies involving
military force, including NATO's involvement in the former Yugoslavia,
these sorts of issues have affected military-civilian relationships,
to the detriment of both. These considerations reflect certain
core institutional perspectives, procedures and dynamics; but
that said, there are ways to deal with such operational issues
as there are ways to deal with the intricately related issue of
Two obvious but hitherto poorly implemented
approaches to deal with such operational concerns begins with
troop training, manuals and education at the level of military
academies and staff colleges. While these sorts of solutions have
always been accepted in principle, they have never been fully
accepted as directly relevant to the core concerns of the military.
This assumption, like other issues related to the military ethos,
will have to be changed. Similarly, more concerted efforts will
have to be made to relate the operational procedures and activities
of the military into those of major humanitarian players.
The geographical limit of NATO engagement is
an issue that will be central to a review of NATO's future. Depending
upon that decision . . . or perhaps even despite it . . . NATO's
role in support of humanitarian activities could eventually prove
to be an important example to other regional and national organisations
around the world which may require military support for humanitarian
In that regard, the planning perspectives as
well as operational modalities that NATO and civilian counterparts
should develop could serve as useful models and bases for training
elsewhere in the world.