Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from Maria-Pierre Nisus


NATO: The New Way of Force

  This paper examines the nature of war in our modern society. Precisely, war amongst the people and the role of NATO. It underlines the new way to combat emerging threats, which requires from leaders both new thinking and new capabilities. War amongst the people necessitates more than ever the use of intelligence and information to fight terrorism effectively. The analysis brings us to understand that the role of military forces are limited, even if they face timeless conflicts. In this war amongst the people, the role of the military is debatable. To meet emerging threats, NATO is evolving; this paper will give an insight into this process. To respond efficiently, the 2002 Prague Summit and the 2006 Riga Summit added the new objectives of the stabilisation of conflicts not only in Europe (for example, Bosnia-Herzegovina), but also out of its European border (Afghanistan). The new role of NATO tends to be globalised, bringing assistance around the world, but also contributing toward nation-building in partnerships or coalitions. The New Strategy will see NATO working alongside the EU in a complementary manner for peacekeeping missions. This will enhance the prospects for the continued success of the Alliance and its further development.


  Marie-Pierre Nisus holds a Master of Arts Degree, with Merit, in Diplomatic Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of London (University of Westminster), and a Bachelor of Arts, with Honours, in International Relations. She has an interest in International Security, the development of NATO, and Civil-military relations. She has attended meetings at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, both in London.



  War no longer exists, as General Sir Rupert Smith affirms in his book: The Utility of Force, the Art of War in the Modern World. He asserts that we face different type of conflicts, but not war. Yet, the concept of war remains the same with a significant mobilization of force from the opponent country with an intentional armed conflict. This was most evident during the First and Second World Wars and even the most recent War in Iraq. The real cause of war may remain unclear, but it is always an issue about governance between two political communities. From this perspective, the philosopher of war, Carl Von Clausewitz, asserted that war is "the continuation of policy by other means." This affirmation is certainly true to some extent by using violence to resolve policy; that is, Clausewitz stated again that "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will". In other words, war per se, is a means to create new policy, by using force to come to a peaceful agreement between two parties at war. The Cold War had been an exception. A war between two different ideologies that did not bring any direct confrontations, but rather allowed two nations to develop sophisticated and destructive weapons. Although considering war was unthinkable, because of the consequence of a nuclear war, their nuclear arsenals played a significant role via deterrence. Therefore, war had been managed and led to the development of an art of strategy.

  War remains a brutal enterprise, which has an impact on human history and social change. War has changed too, and particularly, its environment from battlefield to war amongst people. Defensive postures from governments have changed—focusing on collective security to the protection of common interests. However, war still remains the driving force in our international society. Recent events in different parts of the world attest this affirmation: the terrorist attack of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the Darfur crisis in Sudan, and the on-going consequences of the "war on terror". The evolution of war, or precisely regional or international conflicts call for a new approach to deal with the new emerging form of threats. Thinking about these conflicts should bring political leaders to employ new ways to respond to the conflicts of our modern society. Principally, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and disarmament, require the use of military force with appropriate deployment and measures to be not only effective, but also to face any challenges. The Iraq case illustrates this aspect of the military in conflicts, but also, underlines the limit of military force. Seeking positive results should not take into account only the political objectives, but the military objectives too. Other factors should be included to sustain peace in an area of conflict, as the different institutions: UN-NATO, EU-NATO and without forgetting the civil-military relations: NGOs, which should be taken into consideration for nation-building operations.

  The involvement of NATO in different conflicts (Bosnia and Kosovo) have changed NATO's objectives from the Cold War. The continuing improvement of these objectives have taken place in many summits, and notably the "war on terror" has made NATO re-think its role in Afghanistan and future commitments.

  Thus, it is in no way the end of NATO, but the opposite, its enlargement towards other democratic nations, out of its European borders, to help NATO to face efficiently any threats.

  The 21st century has already been stained with warfare, but how has the changing nature of conflict changed the military's role, and when conflicts end, how should post-war conflict stabilisation and reconstruction proceed?


  The decision to wage war is made by government. As Clausewitz mentioned that war is a tool of policy; therefore, it is the political objectives which shape the military objectives, and in consequence military operations. War and the use of military forces are fundamental elements to bring success to military operations and so to reach the political objectives. To win a war important factors are involved: operational and tactical strategies. Military objectives can be a triumph if the deployment and employment of military forces are well- planned. The example of war between France and Russia in 1812 illustrates the massive deployment of forces from Napoleon to take over Moscow. Similarly, during the Second World War, Hitler used a massive deployment of airpower to attempt to overthrow the British government by trying to destroy its military power, but he did not succeed. These two wars exemplify the massive deployment of military forces in interstate war.

  The deployment and employment of military forces are still essential to achieve military objectives. Yet, in our modern society, deployments should be appropriate, and in the same way, political leaders should change their concept about waging war. The thinking used for interstate war is no longer applicable for the new way of war. The war amongst people requires other methods: military forces would have a limited role for a limited period. For example, in 1994, the deployment of military forces in Haiti were not used to overthrow the military junta. It was through diplomacy that the US achieved its political objectives. Another example is the war on terrorism: this does not necessarily require the large-scale or protracted use of military force. The deployment and employment of military forces should be appropriate and specific regarding those tasks. Certainly, as affirmed by many analysts on this subject, a new form of terrorist has emerged, which exploits the "tactics of the weak, or "a war method that undermines an enemy's power, exploitation of his weaknesses, and asymmetrical operations to achieve victory." [31]In this situation, leaders should always think about the unthinkable, and thus, methods and equipment have to be adequate to ensure the attainment of set military and political objectives.

The limited role of military forces in modern conflicts

  In our modern world, military forces have a limited role in conflicts. Indeed, in a conflict the use of military force is restrained: contemporary conflicts are limited. Bosnia and Kosovo, where limited military forces had been used to take the control over the enemy from local towns, villages and roads, are pertinent examples. This was also the case regarding the protection of the No-Fly zones in Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Consequently, in the Iraq conflict, US military forces should have stopped after the downfall of Saddam Hussein, leaving the place for other institutions. The conflict which emerged led to US forces having to fight against the terror of insurgents; a task for which the US military was not prepared. Indeed, terrorists act differently to the military; while the military has a strategic objective, terrorists have none. In addition, the conventional way of fighting is not the same. The use of new and advanced technology, and increasingly destructive weapons have alerted the world to how difficult it is to combat the scourge of terrorism. Thus, the only way to combat terrorism is through the use of intelligence and information. This allows one to know the enemy. Sun Tzu states:

    "That one who knows both his enemy and himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles. That one who does not know his enemy and knows himself will sometimes gain victory. That one who knows neither his enemy nor himself will be immutably defeated in any battle." [32]

  The need for intelligence is essential, because as attested to by General Sir Rupert Smith, terrorists are amongst the people, and this had been demonstrated after the events of 11 September 2001. Thus, the collection of information should be verified and challenged by the assumptions before any decision regarding the use of military force. The example of the US-UK intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein regarding the possession of weapons of mass destruction discredited the intelligence services because no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Another challenging task is about the deployment and employment of military forces. Have they been trained or are they capable to fulfill their duties? It is an important question because leaders use old methods on new threats. This has to change; a US military specialist confessed that the defence system was ineffective to stop such terrorist attacks. It is thus essential that political leaders should change the way they see conflicts in response to new challenges to the achievement of their political objectives.

  With this analysis, the role of military forces seems to be reduced from the battlefield to limited and specific combat, but one significant question is what are their purposes in the conflicts of our modern society and principally, institutions like NATO? Are they capable of facing new challenges?

NATO, changing objectives: a global role?

  At the end of the Cold War, new threats have emerged, but it was only from 11 September 2001 that NATO leaders became fully aware of the danger of those threats, and consequently a different approach has been adopted, in particular to the use of military power. These threats that Europe faces have pushed NATO to move beyond its European boarders. Indeed, the main threats today are the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and failed states and the interconnection between them which can endanger the security of other nation-states. These issues had been debated at the 2002 Prague Summit, acknowledging by leaders that NATO needed new capabilities to deploy and employ forces to confront any conflict, and to support operations in distant places, including dealing with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Thus, the Prague Summit made a good starting point by making NATO relevant by responding to the challenges of our modern society.

  The process of NATO transformation has facilitated the Alliance to tackle these more diverse and distant threats. The example of NATO's involvement in Afghanistan has permitted this organization to play a significant role in post-conflict stability operations. It has implemented the Prague Capabilities Commitment in a number of diverse areas: the NATO Response Force (NRF); civil-emergency-planning action plan; a partnership action plan against terrorism; nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have been considered in the defence initiatives; in the same way, a missile defence feasibility study and redesigning NATO's science program to be more effective and responsive. These counter-terror capabilities have shown how NATO has changed to meet those threats, and enhancing the Alliance's defence.

  In August 2003 NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which has the task of stabilisation and the provision of security to post-Taliban Afghanistan, under the mandate of the United Nations (UN). Initially, ISAF was intended to operate inside the capital and its surroundings, but has now taken responsibility for security across Afghanistan. Thus, the NATO-led ISAF has got around 32,000 soldiers. [33]The work of NATO and the US in Afghanistan made the military deployment effective and necessary as they do not have the same missions. While the US-led operation 'Enduring Freedom' was focused on counter-terrorism, ISAF concentrated on stabilisation and security. The employment of forces in this case are and should be appropriate to combat the terrorist scourge. It is for that purpose that an increase in the number of NATO soldiers has been made. From 5,000 troops firstly to 10,000 troops today, and intends to call for more troops by the end of the 2006, [34]and particularly in the southern part of the country where the situation is most dangerous. Such an initiative should strengthen cooperation between European and US military forces.

  The shift of NATO out of its geographical boundary has a sound of global engagement. Yet, the Secretary General, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, contested the possible global mission attributed to NATO, as he made clear at the Riga Summit. NATO transformation is not about "globalising" NATO, but a way to provide new capabilities to defend the common interests and values of the Alliance member against new threats. In that sense, NATO is not a "global policeman"[35] as stated by Mr Jaap Hoop De Scheffer.

  From providing territorial defence to Europe, shifting to a more international security orientation, NATO with its new capabilities is therefore able to face challenges and meet the demands that are required to ensure stabilization and security, and provide immediate assistance.


  War in our modern society or amongst people has changed the military and political objectives. It is no longer about the national defence, but rather, about national security. Defending the people against their enemies, which are amongst them, or more precisely, ensuring the security of the people in the society is the new paradigm. The situation of today's war could be summarized according to Admiral Jean Dufourcq's statement:

    "Ce n'est plus la défense des Etats qui est la question centrale mais la sécurite des sociétés, et les instruments militaires assemblés a grands frais pour préserver les Etats peuvent sembler inopérants pour protéger les citoyens fragilisés, précarisés." [36]

    ("It is no longer national defence but the security of societies that is the central issue, and the military instruments assembled at great expenses to safeguard a state may now seem inadequate for the protection of a fragile, unstable population.")

  From this statement, it is obvious that the intervention of military forces have changed considerably in the post-Cold War. The deployment and employment of forces do not have the purpose of defence, but in the opposite, a goal of security or more broadly `human security'. Military actions embrace now a wide range of missions, such as crisis intervention, limited combat operations, peacekeeping and peace-enforcement. These missions are the new approaches by political leaders to restore peace and also to sustain fragile peace until a resolution has been found to end these conflicts. The example of NATO in the Balkans leading two major operations known as the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in the Serbian province of Kosovo, illustrate these facts. For instance, in Kosovo, the NATO air campaign had the objective to back diplomatic efforts to force Milosevic to return to the negotiating table. The tandem works of NATO and UNPROFOR to enforce the UN sanctions and ensure the UN No-Fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UNPREDEP deployment in Macedonia, from 1992 until its withdrawal in 1999 illustrate the change in the use of military power. The goal of both deployments was to ensure stability in the region, while deterring any existing hostility from Yugoslavia.

  It is thus clear that NATO has gone beyond its initial objective, but has also taken on new duties.. For example, NATO's involvement in the training of 1,500 Iraqi military and security forces, and the delivery of military equipment to Iraq. Regarding the African Union (AU), NATO has offered logistical support to 5,000 African Union troops in Darfur. It also provided training to the military officers and technical assistance in the African missions at their headquarters in Ethiopia. Another illustration is NATO's assistance to the earthquake victims in the region of Kashmir, the tsunami in Indonesia and similarly to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. Thus, NATO has broadened its security spectrum by including human security from violent to non-violent threats.

Civil-Military relations

  In a military intervention, civilian authorities, humanitarian organisations and NGOs are required and have to be considered in the planning of operations. They should work side-by-side to bring assistance and protection to vulnerable populations. It is a common image in the news to see NGOs remaining in a conflict area to provide assistance to the affected local populations. Moreover, conflict in our modern society demands such cooperation between civil and military authorities. The Former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated the importance of humanitarian organisation and NGOs in the field. With this, the domain of the Defence Ministries tend to be wide in taking the responsibility for a multitude of agencies, organisations and NGOs. It is thus obvious that the role of the peacekeeping is becoming more complex in providing security and stability for the assistance and protection of populations. In this view, NATO should develop and deepen the civil-military concepts in its operational planning. Its experience in Afghanistan on the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) is a good starting point. Similarly, it should cooperate with international organisations and NGOs in its planning operations and the sharing of information. In addition, as a regional security organisation, NATO should set up closer relationships with the United Nations organisations and UN bodies; particularly the UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As with the United Nations, NATO should have civilian representatives to work in liaison between NATO and humanitarian actors in the field. In this way, it is certain that NATO can be more efficient regarding human security, and also working in cooperation with the EU on specific operations.

  Laure Borgomano-Loup[37] went further by changing the role of peacekeeping: embracing coercion/peacemaking missions firstly, and then peacekeeping missions, which include reconciliation for a lasting peace. The case of Rwanda is an example; reconciliation amongst people within a society is the key to stop and possibly to eradicate the cause of conflicts. This approach should be applied, when stability and security have been restored, then peacekeeping missions could be set up, using military police and/ or French Gendarmerie-style detachments—as it was in Kosovo and Macedonia—to establish law and order and starting the reconciliation process within the society. This process should include not only NATO, other actors in the field, but also, government and local authorities.


  NATO's support in nation building has only contributed to restore stability and security. NATO cannot provide "soft security" instruments such as civilian assets; it has to rely on other institutions or ad-hoc coalitions of countries to perform reconstruction operations. The NATO-EU cooperation on crisis management (or Berlin-Plus arrangements) is an example of such a commitment. The Berlin Plus agreement for the EU ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) provides EU access to NATO operational planning capabilities and the availability of NATO capabilities and common assets for EU-led operations, for example, Operation Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina, run by SHAPE and DSACEUR, [38]Operation Concordia in the Former Republic of Macedonia, and Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. NATO-EU works in partnership and as a complementary of nation-building missions, by sharing common strategic interests and values. Member countries in the EU are also, for the most part, members of NATO, which is a key for strengthen the alliances and achieving successful missions, as it is the case regarding Operation Artemis. Moreover, such success depends on the consensus of decision-making and also on the political will of the two organisations. Thus, NATO-EU collaboration, working on mutual coordination of each organisation's role and responsibility, with NATO providing "hard" security and stabilisation and the EU providing "soft" security instruments for civilian objectives, could relieve crises in different areas in the world.

  In addition, such a concept could be applied in the context of NATO-Russia relations, for example, as a joint peace support operation. Debate on this concept has revealed the existing convergences between NATO members and Russia. The recognition of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) as a security provider by NATO is one option for establishing the grounds for operations in a coalition framework. However, NATO-Russia joint-operations in the Newly Independent States (NIS) would not be acceptable to the Russian public. They would prefer an UN mandate with the EU as a partner or a coalition of countries. However, such a concept should not be abandoned, but rather efforts to raise the Russian awareness on the possibility of a successful cooperation between NATO-Russia are required.

  Another factor which has strengthened the Alliances is the growing engagement with non-NATO members. They have contributed toward the effort made by NATO in Bosnia and Afghanistan. For instance, Australia, Japan and South Korea have sent troops to ensure stability and security in Iraq. The Riga Summit in November 2006 emphasised the need to maintain and strengthen partnership and cooperation, which are essential for the Alliance's operations and missions. In this sense, deepening relations with countries beyond the Atlantic, as in the Asia- Pacific region could only benefit the Alliance. The expansion of dialogue with its non-European partners would be a benefit for the Alliance, as these countries have in common democratic interests and values. Therefore, deepening its relations with the Asia-Pacific region, such as Australia, Japan and South Korea could benefit the Alliance by setting up a democratic belt around China.

Strategic Concept

  The international security environment has changed since 11 September 2001. The Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts have set new tasks for the Alliance: NATO has acquired new capabilities to respond to these new threats and challenges and new agreements have been made on EU-NATO cooperation. This has led NATO to be involved in crises in Asia and Africa. From this point, debate on a new or revised Strategic Concept is required, calling for NATO adaptability to the 21st century threats. By reviewing NATO's Strategic Concept, the redefinition of the Alliance's relationship with the United Nations and the European Union, and also taking into account the concept of transformation could be discussed. Apparatus for NATO's military transformation has been set-up, but a political transformation should also be put in place. The latter would consider a dialogue/forum for members and partnerships for issues on the security agenda, more flexible decision-making for a rapid response to humanitarian emergencies and conflicts/crises, and finally, for further enlargement for European States and possibly out of the European region, as NATO now has to respond to global needs. Therefore, NATO needs more coherent structures and strategies politically and militarily regarding consensual decision-making, which includes political legitimacy, and strives for efficiency in their activities. This will give a clear strategic concept for NATO and strengthen the Alliance.


  War has changed the nature of the battlefield; conflict now tends to be urban-centred, and conflicts and confrontations have supplanted war in its traditional sense. In consequence, the military's role has changed with the specific deployment and employment of forces. They no longer fight protracted war, but rather limited combats to defeat militias or insurgencies. They are, thus, used in a peacekeeping role to set-up security and stability for the negotiation of political agreements.

  Institutions like NATO assured such a role in the Balkans. However, since 11 September, 2001, the international security environment has changed with new threats including terrorism, failed states, and the use of weapons of mass destruction by rogue actors (non-state and state). In addition, NATO has been transformed and gone beyond its initial concept. NATO has got a global reach thanks to its involvement in Asia and Africa, but also, it has widened its operations to include peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. This transformation has permitted NATO to go along with its partners and institutions such as the EU, UN and other members to tackle global threats and provide civilian implementations in the post-war conflicts. The appreciation of a reconciliation programme including civil assets would be beneficial for the population to avoid going back to crisis. This would be done by the EU or UN; but NATO should adopt a civil-military cell in its operations and be closer to the UN agencies. With these new capabilities, military and civilian, NATO would be strengthened and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. Additionally, the political transformation has to be pursued, along with a clear Strategic Concept to advance the common interests of the transatlantic community, and those of the global democratic community for a more stable world.



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Journals and Reviews

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Joyce, Mark, NATO's return to politics, RUSI Journal—June 2005.

Poulter, Jeremy, NATO as a security Organisation: implications for the future role and survival of the Alliance, RUSI Journal—June 2006.

Richards, David, NATO in Afghanistan: transformation on the front line, RUSI Journal—August 2006.

NATO Review, New Horizons, winter 2005.

NATO Public Diplomatic division, For and against: debating Euro-Atlantic security options, 2004.


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8 March 2007

31   Alexandrescu, Grigore, The war against terror is consecrating a new generation, Strategic Impact, no 2/2006, p 78, from [Accessed on 26 November 2006]. Back

32   Orzeata, Mihail, Lessons of History to be re-learned, Strategic Impact no 2/2006, p 13, from [Accessed on 26 November 2006]. Back

33   Armed Conflict Database-Afghanistan: Military and Security development, International Institute Strategy Studies (IISS), from [accessed on 19 November 2006]. Back

34   Daalder, Ivo, and Goldgeier, James, Global NATO, Foreign Affairs-September/October 2006, available from [Accessed on 20 November 2006]. Back

35   Secretary General's speech at the SDA Conference, Global NATO: Overdue or Overstretch? From [Accessed on 6 November 2006], see also, Poulter, Jeremy, NATO as a security Organisation, RUSI Journal-June 2006. Back

36   Losi, Natale, Avoiding the spiral of violence, in Promoting Sustainable Security, NATO Defence College-NDC Occasional Paper no 12, February 2006, p 10-from [accessed on 20 November 2006]. Back

37   Researcher Adviser at NATO Defence College. Cf: NATO and Sustainable Security in Promoting Sustainable Security, NATO Defence College, NDC Occasional Paper no 12, February 2006, p 26-from [accessed 20 November 2006]. Back

38   Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe respectively. Back

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