NATO’s strategic redirection to the South
NATO created the Strategic Direction South – the “Hub” – in 2017, in response to illegal migration into Europe from war-torn Libya, Syria, and Iraq, highlighting humanitarian and internal security concerns. As evidence began to emerge that criminal organizations and terrorist groups were leveraging migration flows, these fears coalesced with other security concerns, not only disrupting the stability of European societies but also threatening the security of the Alliance. Eventually, NATO recognized that the situation was connected to deeper sources of instability and that solutions would require a comprehensive approach to the southernmost parts of “the South”.
As the Hub matures, and NATO continues its adaptation campaign, a reorientation of the Hub could improve NATO’s ability to project stability and thus better serve the Alliance. Accordingly, this Policy Brief suggests clarifying the Hub’s role, revisiting the “no duplication rule”, and redirecting NATO’s focus in the South. Unlike some other recommendations which suggest allocating more resources to the Hub,1 this brief recommends trimming the edges of the Hub’s geography and narrowing its mission as ways of increasing trans-Atlantic security and contributing to Alliance cohesion.