Halifax International Security Forum: NATO’s current preoccupations inform war gathering

Fourth in a series

By Nick Lin

At a one-day conference titled “Preparing NATO and the Allies for the Future Challenges” in Sofia, Bulgaria on October 27, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana gave a speech in which he outlined NATO’s current preoccupations.

The speech was part of the first panel discussion called “NATO in the next decade: Providing peace and security in a challenging security environment.”

Geoana stated, “NATO’s main task during the pandemic is to make sure that the health crisis does not become a security crisis. […] We have done what is necessary to keep our forces safe, to maintain our operational readiness and sustain our missions and operations, from our presence here in the Black Sea Region to countering terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He mentioned that troops in NATO countries are supporting their national civilian responses to COVID-19.

He highlighted what he called areas of instability of concern for the aggressive alliance, including “North Africa and the greater Middle East,” as well as the “Western Balkans […], where we see a confluence of threats from nationalist, Islamist, radicalist and Russian interference.” Russia’s activities in its own territory were described as “seek[ing] to dominate its neighbours here in the Black Sea Region and all along NATO’s eastern flank, expanding its military presence on NATO’s borders.”

Geoana also cited the importance of cyber warfare and artificial intelligence for NATO going forward, saying, “We are involved in a new technological race where conflicts are increasingly defined by bytes and big data and AI as the minister has said, as much as by bullets and battleships. And NATO is driving innovation. Our Science and Technology Organization runs a network of over 6,000 scientists and engineers from across the Alliance. They’re dedicated to integrating the most advanced technologies in NATO and Allied platforms […]

“Throughout NATO’s 70 years history, we have mostly dominated the technological race, but now that dominance is being challenged. Other nations like Russia and China, countries that do not share the same values as we do, are developing new technologies: from hypersonic missiles, to autonomous systems, through artificial intelligence and cyber warfare.”

He went on to say, in effect, that post-secondary institutions and the fields of science and engineering should be used to maintain NATO’s dominance, and also that the youth should also be embroiled in “transforming our societies and ensure that our economies and militaries remain strong.”

He also pushed for NATO members to subordinate themselves to the supranational interests of the aggressive alliance in the name of “interoperability,” saying, “[…] we must make sure that we do not create an unbridgeable technological gap between Allies. This is why and where NATO plays a central role, agreeing standards across all Allies. So we are not 30 separate nations, but one united alliance.” He did not mention NATO’s demand that member countries are expected to commit two per cent of GDP toward the military, regardless of what the citizens of those countries want.

Geoana went on to claim that NATO is concerned about climate change, citing a recent speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “on the very real and growing security implications of our changing climate, which is putting pressure on basic resources like food, water and energy, fuelling conflict and increasing existing threats.” He added that “NATO is directly affected by a warming planet. For example, our Training Mission in Iraq, this summer in Baghdad, temperatures regularly went above 50 degrees Celsius. Just imagine being in that sort of heat, let alone wearing full combat gear.” Nothing was said about the fact that NATO and its aggressive activities are collectively one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate change.

Geoana stated that NATO’s Secretary General

“is leading a process called NATO 2030. It aims to look to the future so that NATO can continue to protect our almost one billion citizens in the coming decade and way, way beyond. NATO 2030 is about keeping the Alliance strong, literally, by continuing to invest more in capabilities we need to deter and to defend ourselves on land, at sea, in the air, in space and cyberspace.

“Also making NATO stronger politically, by bringing more issues that affect our security to NATO’s table – even if sometimes, as we see, these very days, discussions may not be easy.

“And also, third, taking a more global approach. This doesn’t mean a global presence, per se, because NATO remains a regional organization by definition and by treaty. But working ever closely with our partners around the world to defend our values and way of life. And this is paramount for our continued success.

“So a strong military, a strong political Alliance is essential. But this is not enough. We also need strong societies able to prevent, to endure, to adapt and bounce back from whatever happens to them. In the years ahead, we have to put a much greater emphasis on resilience.

“NATO Allies have already agreed high standards for resilience in areas including the continuity of government, secure transport and communications including 5G, energy, food and water supplies. And we are working closely with the European Union, with the private sector, with civil society and academia on all these, because ultimately, although resilience is a national responsibility, it is also a collective effort.

“As part of NATO 2030, we want to go further and agree stronger requirements for resilience at the meeting of NATO heads of states and governments next year.”

Geoana concluded by promoting the fiction that the aggressive NATO alliance ensures the collective security of its members, while it threatens the safety and well-being of all those who do not submit to its agenda. Joining NATO’s protection racket, he claimed has “protected Bulgaria for the last 15, 16 years now. And it will continue to do so for many years to come. Our nations stand united across two continents for a single, simple and powerful reason: our values, our freedom, our democracy, our human rights, the rule of law.”

The first panel also featured opening remarks from organizers and sponsors, as well as remarks from Bulgarian defence officials.

There were three other panels, which elaborated NATO’s preoccupations outlined in the speech by Geoana.

The second panel was titled “NATO’s key tasks in the dynamic security environment. Non-military non-traditional risks and threats to NATO and the member-states. Shall NATO adopt new roles?” which was described in conference materials as follows:

“The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has a devastating effect on many countries. Many people were infected and many lost their lives. The economies are suffering heavy losses. The crisis is having an impact on NATO activities and exercises.

“Following the initial shock, Member States and NATO have been able to coordinate their efforts to deal with the crisis, making full use of NATO structures and common capabilities. What are the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on NATO operations and capabilities?

“What are the first analyses and lessons learned from the crisis and what shall we do in order to be more prepared if similar threats occur in the future? What conclusions for NATO strategic foresight, preparedness and cooperation can be drawn?”

The third panel was titled “Providing NATO with new capabilities in the new technological environment,” which was described by organizers as follows:

“The new technologies can greatly enhance NATO’s capabilities. At the same time, their vulnerabilities and weaknesses must be known. On the other hand, strategic rivals are also developing military capabilities based on new technologies.

“What are NATO’s approaches and policies towards emerging and disruptive technologies and new non-military threats? How to coordinate planning and development of capabilities based on the new technologies? Advantages and disadvantages of the new technologies. Is there a digital divide within NATO and how to overcome it? How shall NATO and the EU better coordinate approaches?”

The last panel was titled “Anticipating the future. How to prepare NATO and Allies to meet the future risks and threats” and was described as follows:

“The complex security environment which combines old and new risks and threats, requires an improved assessment and strategic foresight. Better understanding of the nature of these risks and strong leadership are needed to deal with them. This is especially relevant for the use of new technologies to achieve superiority in capabilities and operations.

“How can we better prepare NATO and the member-states to face the future challenges? What needs to be done at national and NATO levels so that we can assess the potential negative developments or impact of new technologies on defence capabilities and the nature of war as a whole? What must we do now to be able to predict and adequately respond to future crises and challenges? What policies and coordination mechanisms help us to better prepare to meet the new crises?”

(With files from nato.int, cmdrcoe.org.)

TML Weekly, November 21, 2020, No. 45

1 Comment

Filed under Canada, Europe

One response to “Halifax International Security Forum: NATO’s current preoccupations inform war gathering

  1. Pingback: Evidence of US national security concerns and morbid preoccupation with defeat | Tony Seed's Weblog

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