NATO needs a new strategic concept adjusted to the global rise of new technologies, terrorism and China to replace a plan developed a decade ago, the head of the alliance said on Wednesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron famously branded the alliance “brain dead” last year, demanding a new strategy that would, among other things, reopen dialogue with Russia — stifled after it annexed part of Ukraine — and refocus on the fight against Islamist terrorism.
As part of a “reflection process” triggered by the French leader’s controversial remarks, NATO will revise its strategic concept — its overarching statement of the threats it faces and how it might respond, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a conference in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava.
“The time has come to develop a new strategic concept for NATO, as the world has fundamentally changed,” Stoltenberg said at the GLOBSEC security forum.
He dubbed the initiative “NATO 2030”.
Stoltenberg urged the Western defensive alliance of 30 states to “develop common principles and standards for new technologies” to meet security challenges related to “disruptive technologies” using big data and cyber telecommunications.
The NATO chief also highlighted the need to address the “fundamental shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China” as well as the rise of a “more brutal form of terrorism, more instability to the south of our Alliance, in the Middle East and North Africa.”
At a summit in London last year, NATO leaders for the first time formally recognised the “challenges” posed by China.
While the transatlantic alliance remains focused on its European and North American core, Stoltenberg has argued it is impossible to ignore Beijing’s booming military investment and geopolitical assertiveness.
Stoltenberg also underscored the importance of maintaining resilient societies across the alliance, insisting that “our military cannot be strong if our societies are weak.
“So our first line of defence must be strong societies able to prevent, endure, adapt and bounce back from whatever happens,” he added in an apparent nod to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on NATO members.
Since the Ukraine conflict erupted in 2014, NATO has sought ways to boost its members’ resilience to the kind of hybrid warfare — combining irregular forces, cyber tactics and disinformation — seen there.