New Research Division Publication
No one knows yet what the new NATO Strategic Concept will look like. However, it is likely that NATO will continue to be involved in complex operations: military missions that are not traditional interstate warfare yet require the use of military forces, almost always in collaboration with civilian partners. There is no consensus definition, but the range of activities included are generally agreed to include counterinsurgency, stability operations, and humanitarian assistance.
The new Forum Paper by the NATO Defense College takes a broad look at this topic and explores the differences and similarities between complex operations and high-intensity combat operations, particularly regarding the use of force/level of force, governance/economic development components, and civilian protection. It includes a wide range of articles—some of which may not be consistent with today’s official policies—related to the problems that complex operations pose for NATO.