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2010-Present: The Way Ahead
At the Lisbon summit in 2010, NATO adopted a new strategic concept. NATO leaders agreed to "defend its members against the full range of threats; capable of managing even the most challenging crises; and better able to work with other organisations and nations to promote international stability. NATO will be more agile, more capable and more cost-effective, and it will continue to serve as an essential instrument for peace.” As the nature of security challenges continued to evolve, NATO focused on ensuring that its operating concepts allowed the alliance to retain its historic ability to meet the challenges of the time effectively. Also at Lisbon, NATO reaffirmed its partnership with Afghanistan and its role in preserving stability in the Balkans.
In 2011, NATO conducted Operation Unified Protector, a mission to protect the Libyan people from instability and political violence. Secretary General Rasmussen concluded the mission on 31 October, 2011, when he observed that NATO had "…fully complied with the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya, to enforce the no-fly zone and the arms embargo. Operation Unified Protector is one of the most successful in NATO history.”
NATO affirmed its long-term determination to the security and stability of Afghanistan at the 2012 Chicago summit, where leaders agreed that NATO would play a training and advising role after security transition to Afghan forces took place by the end of 2014. NATO declared the end of the ISAF mission and in 2014 launched operation Resolute Support to provide assistance to Afghan National Security Forces. At the most recent NATO summit in Wales last September, NATO entered a new phase of its history.
The Wales Summit Declaration stated that, "Our Alliance remains an essential source of stability in this unpredictable world. Together as strong democracies, we are united in our commitment to the Washington Treaty and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on solidarity, Alliance cohesion, and the indivisibility of our security, NATO remains the transatlantic framework for strong collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies.” NATO leaders agreed that Russian actions in Ukraine represent a new challenge to the NATO vision of a peaceful, united, and free Europe. In its sixty-forth year, SHAPE continues to serve as the strategic headquarters for NATO operations and to achieve the alliance’s military objectives.
After the initiation of a new era of adaptation at the Wales Summit of 2014, NATO’s Warsaw Summit of 8 and 9 July 2016 was another key moment in the Alliance’s evolution. The meeting proved the Alliance’s determination to stand together, to continue its efforts and abide by its values while showing readiness for all future and present challenges and adapting to a changed security environment.
NATO is an Alliance of shared values; therefore, the Allies warmly welcomed its 29thmember, Montenegro, and confirmed the Alliance’s unity in the commitment to the Washington Treaty.NATO’s greatest responsibility always has been and is to protect its almost one billion citizens, while all its actions are defensive, proportionate and in line with its international commitments. In the official Communiqué, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in this meeting, the Allies emphasized that "NATO’s essential mission is unchanged:to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.” This unique mission continued to be reflected in the Communiqué’s reference to the relevant core tasks as defined in the 2010 Strategic Concept: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.
With these core functions and values in mind, NATO’s member countries went beyond with their decisions in Warsaw and entered a next phase of adaptation. The Alliance declared to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence, namely the military presence in the east: already in 2017, four robust battalions were foreseen to be in place in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania on a rotational basis. For the southern region a tailored forward presence for the south-eastern part of the Alliance would feed into the overall deterrence and defence concept.
To safeguard security at home, NATO must also project stability beyond its borders, as it already has a long successful history of projecting stability: through operations such as the Balkans and partnerships with over 40 different partners across the world. Thus Allies at Warsaw decided that collective security efforts would be supported by a new initiative to project stability in the whole region through support for partners. This included a new agreement to start training and capacity building in Iraq, and, furthermore, an expanded maritime presence in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as support by NATO AWACS to the Global Coalition countering ISIL. In order to enhance their resilience by modernising capabilities, the NATO member states also declared Initial Operational Capability of NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence and recognized cyberspace as an operational domain.
Continuation of efforts and commitments remained an important pillar of NATO members’ decisions in Warsaw. After Allies and partners of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan had met Afghanistan’s President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah, they pledged to continue the mission beyond 2016 and confirmed funding for the Afghan national forces until 2020. The NATO members endorsed a Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine following a constructive discussion with Ukrainian President Poroshenko at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
One of the milestones of the Warsaw Summit was an event on the side-lines of the meetings: the signing of a Joint Declaration by Secretary General Stoltenberg and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to deepen relations between NATO and the European Union and step up new areas of cooperation. Closer cooperation between NATO and the EU is key to dealing with current and emerging security challenges, from the east and the south and wherever they may arise. This Declaration constituted a new level of reciprocal partnership between the two organizations and marked their determination to face several challenges of a new security environment together in an even more coordinated and complimentary manner.