New Research Division Publication -
The Framework Nations' Concept and NATO: Game-Changer for a New Strategic Era or Missed Opportunity?
- Research Paper 132: "The Framework Nations' Concept and NATO: Game-Changer for a New Strategic Era or Missed Opportunity?", by Diego A. Ruiz Palmer.
Research Paper 132 is written by a long-time member of the NATO International Staff who has been closely watching the development of the Framework Nations concept proposed by Germany in 2013. Mr. Ruiz Palmer sees great value in this approach to Alliance security. As he points out, the rapid rise of diverse, hybrid threats on the Atlantic Alliance’s eastern and southern periphery in the first half of this decade has signalled the passing of a more benign security environment in and around Europe and the emergence for NATO of a new strategic era characterized by systemic uncertainty. These changed circumstances have also brought into sharper focus the need for NATO to develop and agree a ‘military strategy,’ to underpin the Strategic Concept adopted in 2010. This strategy would translate the commitment to collective defense that lies at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty into a predictable and reliable deterrence and defense posture that assures all Allies, irrespective of their geographic location.
Some would argue that the Readiness Action Plan adopted at the 2014 Wales Summit may have accomplished this goal. But as Diego argues, the RAP was a shorter-term, necessary stepping stone. A more structured, longer-lasting level of military adaptation of the Alliance is now needed. The Framework Nations’ Concept adopted by NATO in 2014 represents a particularly compelling, although still evolving, construct to achieve these important goals in inclusive ways.
The Wales Summit Declaration of September 2014 included the announcement of a full range of measures to assure Allies in the East, including the presence of persistent rotational Allied forces and changes to military infrastructure to support reinforcement, followed by the recent announcement of four NATO multinational battalions to be deployed to Eastern Europe. Russia’s official response to the changes announced by NATO included accusations that the Allies are in violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, specifically the pledge related to substantial combat forces. However, this paper shows that none of the changes announced at the Wales or Warsaw Summits has approached the thresholds described in the SCF pledge.
The Framework Nations construct provides a pragmatic mechanism to make regional or functional cooperative frameworks among larger and smaller Allies work in ways that strengthen the Alliance, by linking them to NATO, rather than undermine its cohesion. Against the background of the desirability of developing and agreeing a NATO military strategy below the Strategic Concept that matches Europe’s changed security environment, this Research Paper discusses the potential of NATO’s Framework Nations’ Concept to be a game changer in NATO’s military adaptation.
All European Allies bear a responsibility for assuming a greater share of the aggregate NATO burden and in doing so in ways that strengthen their collective role and weight in the Alliance, while establishing new operational links with United States and Canadian forces. The author makes a compelling case that the Framework Nations’ Concept is ideally fit-for-purpose to deliver on these worthy objectives: it is a construct that balances well the respective, and all necessary, contributions of larger and smaller European Allies. It also combines, synergistically, the build-up and strengthening of operational formations and the development of new defense capabilities, by generating the necessary efforts of mass and momentum across broad groupings of Allies.
Lastly, the Framework Nations’ Concept is well suited to the necessity of embedding the Readiness Action Plan into an enduring and coherent framework, in the form of a ‘military strategy’ underpinning the Strategic Concept.
We hope you enjoy reading this in-depth review of the Framework Nations concept, its genesis, its development, and its future prospects.
Jeffrey A. Larsen, PhD, Division Head Research