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[Text] The NATO Strategic Concept – 1991 Version

The strategic concept of the Alliance – 07 – 08 Nov. 1991

  1. At their meeting in London in July 1990, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed on the need to adapt the Atlantic Alliance to the new and more promising era which is was open in Europe. While reaffirming the fundamental principles on which the Alliance has been based since its inception, they recognized that events unfolding in Europe would have a major bearing on how it achieves its goals in the future. In particular, they initiated an in-depth strategic review, of which the new concept below is the result.

Part I – The strategic context

The new strategic environment

  1. Since 1989, profound political changes have taken place in Central and Eastern Europe which have radically improved the security context in which the Atlantic Alliance seeks to achieve its objectives. The former satellite countries of the USSR have regained their full sovereignty. The Soviet Union and its republics are the scene of radical changes. The three Baltic republics regained their independence. Soviet forces have left Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and are due to complete their withdrawal from Poland and Germany by 1994. All countries that were previously adversaries of NATO have not only dismantled the Warsaw Pact, but also abandoned any ideological hostility towards the West. They have, to varying degrees, adopted and begun to implement policies aimed at establishing pluralist democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and a market economy. The political division of Europe, which was at the origin of the military confrontation at the time of the cold war, is thus overcome.
  2. In the west, the changes were no less significant. Germany has unified and remains a full member of the Alliance and of the European institutions. The search by the European Community for a political union including a European Security Identity and the increased role of WEU are important factors for European security. Strengthening the security dimension in the process of European integration and developing the role and responsibilities of the European members of the Alliance are positive and mutually reinforcing processes. The affirmation of a European security and defense identity and a European role in defence, which is reflected in the consolidation of the European pillar of the Alliance, will not only serve the interests of European states, but will also strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of the Alliance as a whole.
  3. Substantial progress in arms control has already improved stability and security, by reducing the level of armaments and increasing military transparency and mutual trust (including through the Stockholm CDE agreement). of 1986, the INF Treaty of 1987, the CSCE confidence and security agreements and measures of 1990). Implementation of the 1991 START Treaty will increase stability through substantial and balanced reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. Further profound changes and reductions in the nuclear forces of the United States and the Soviet Union will be sought following the September 1991 initiative by President Bush. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), signed at the Paris Summit in 1990, is also of great importance: its implementation will eliminate the numerical inferiority of the Alliance for the main conventional weapons systems and will include the implementation of effective verification procedures. All these developments will also result in an unprecedented degree of military transparency in Europe, and therefore an increase in predictability and mutual trust. This transparency would be even greater if an “open skies” regime were established. Further progress is in sight in the arms control of conventional and nuclear forces, and also with regard to the ban on chemical weapons on a global scale as well as the restriction of exports of destabilizing weapons and the proliferation of certain weapons technologies.
  4. Started in Helsinki in 1975, the CSCE process has already contributed significantly to overcoming the division of Europe. Following the Paris Summit, it now includes new institutional arrangements and offers a contractual framework for consultation and cooperation capable of playing, in addition to that of NATO and the European integration process, a positive role for preservation of peace.
  5. The historic changes that have taken place in Europe, and which have made it possible to achieve a number of the objectives set out in the Harmel Report, have markedly improved the overall security of the Allies. The monolithic, massive and potentially immediate threat that was the Alliance's overriding concern for its first forty years has now disappeared. However, the future remains shrouded in uncertainty and there remain risks to the security of the Alliance.
  6. The new strategic concept is based on the assumption of a security context where the positive changes mentioned above will have borne fruit. In particular, it presupposes both the completion of the planned withdrawal of all Soviet armed forces from Central and Eastern Europe and the full implementation by all parties of the 1990 CFE Treaty. The application of this strategic concept will therefore be subject to regular review taking into account the evolution of the security context, and more specifically the progress made in realizing this hypothesis. Other adaptations will be made as necessary.

Security challenges and risks

  1. The security challenges and risks facing NATO are not of the same nature as in the past. The threat of massive and simultaneous attack on all of NATO's European fronts has been effectively eliminated and has therefore ceased to be the focal point of Alliance strategy. In Central Europe especially, the risk of a surprise attack has been significantly reduced and the minimum warning time has been lengthened accordingly for the Allies.
  2. Rather than being the result of one overriding threat, the remaining risks to Allied security now take complex forms and come from multiple directions, making them difficult to predict and assess. NATO must be able to deal with this if it wants to safeguard stability in Europe and the security of its members. These risks can appear in several ways.
  3. The risks to which the security of the Allies is exposed probably stem less from the possibility of calculated aggression against the territory of the Allies than from the negative consequences of instabilities which could arise from serious economic, social and political difficulties, including ethnic and territorial disputes, which many countries in central and eastern Europe are experiencing. The resulting tensions, insofar as they remain contained, are not of a nature to directly threaten the security or territorial integrity of the member states of the Alliance. It is not excluded, however, that they may lead to crises jeopardizing stability in Europe, and even lead to armed conflicts likely to involve the involvement of external powers or to affect allied countries. , thus having a direct effect on the security of the Alliance.
  4. In the particular case of the Soviet Union, the risks and uncertainties that accompany the process of change cannot be dissociated from the fact that its conventional forces are vastly superior to those of any other European state and that this country has an arsenal considerable nuclear power, comparable only to that of the United States. This potential must be taken into account in order to preserve stability and security in Europe.
  5. Allies also wish to maintain peaceful and non-confrontational relations with countries south of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. Stability and peace in this peripheral zone of Europe are indeed important for the security of the Alliance, as the Gulf War in 1991 showed. This is all the more true if we consider the development of military potential and the proliferation of weapons technologies in the region, from which weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles could reach the territory of certain member states of the Alliance.
  6. Any armed attack against Allied territory, from whatever direction, will be covered by Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty. However, Alliance security must also be seen in a global context. The security interests of the Alliance may be jeopardized by other risks of a more general nature, in particular the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the disruption of supplies of vital resources or acts of terrorism and sabotage. Arrangements exist within the Alliance which allow member states to consult in accordance with Article 4 of the Washington Treaty and, where appropriate, to coordinate their efforts, particularly in the face of such risks.
  7. From the point of view of Alliance strategy, these different risks must be considered in different ways. Even if relations with the Soviet Union are not of a confrontational nature and have been placed under the sign of cooperation, the military capabilities and the potential for reinforcement of the USSR, with their nuclear dimension, are still the most important factor. more important that the Alliance must take into account in maintaining the strategic balance in Europe. The end of the East-West confrontation has, however, greatly reduced the risk of a major conflict in Europe. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of seeing crises of another type occur unexpectedly, requiring a rapid reaction, although these crises would no doubt be of a lesser scale.
  8. Two conclusions follow from this analysis of the strategic context. The first is that the novelty of this environment does not affect the purpose or security functions of the Alliance, but emphasizes their continued validity. The second is that this new environment, on the other hand, offers the Alliance new opportunities to place its strategy within the framework of a broader conception of security.

Part II – Alliance Security Objectives and Functions

Alliance Objective

  1. The essential objective of NATO, as set out in the Washington Treaty and reaffirmed in the London Declaration, is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on the common values ​​of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the Alliance has worked since its creation to establish a peaceful and lasting order in Europe. This objective of the Alliance remains unchanged.

Nature of the Alliance

  1. NATO embodies the transatlantic partnership that establishes a permanent link between the security of North America and the security of Europe. It is the concrete expression of a collective effort aimed at defending the common interests of all its members.
  2. The fundamental principle which guides the action of the Alliance is the common commitment and the will to cooperate of sovereign States in the service of the indivisibility of the security of all its members. Solidarity within the Alliance, which derives its substance and effectiveness from the daily work carried out in NATO in the political and military fields, ensures that no Allied country will be forced to rely solely on its own resources to respond to main security challenges. Without taking anything away from the right and the duty of its members to assume their responsibilities as sovereign States in matters of defence, the Alliance enables them, through collective effort, to be better able to achieve their essential objectives. of national security.
  3. The feeling that the members of the Alliance thus have of benefiting from an equal level of security, whatever the differences in situation or military potential, contributes to overall stability in Europe and, therefore, to the creation of favorable conditions for better cooperation between them, but also with third countries. It is on this basis that the members of the Alliance can seek to build with other countries the structures of security cooperation that a Europe whole and free demands.

The basic tasks of the Alliance

  1. To conduct its security policy, designed to safeguard peace, the Alliance will continue to use the following means in particular: maintaining sufficient military potential to prevent war and ensure effective defence; overall capacity to successfully manage crises involving the security of its members; continuation of political efforts to promote dialogue with other countries and active search for an approach to European security calling for cooperation, particularly in the field of arms control and disarmament.
  2. To achieve its core purpose, the Alliance performs the following fundamental security tasks:
    • provide one of the indispensable foundations for a stable security environment in Europe, based on the development of democratic institutions and a commitment to settle disputes peacefully, in which no country would be able to resort to intimidation or coercion against any European state, nor to impose its hegemony by the threat or use of force;
    • serve the Allies, in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, as a forum for transatlantic consultation on any matter affecting their vital interests, in particular in the event of events representing a risk to their security, and as a framework appropriate coordination of their efforts in areas of common interest;
    • exercise a deterrent function against any threat to the territory of a NATO member state, and a defense function in the event of aggression;
    • preserve the strategic balance in Europe.
  3. Other institutions such as the European Community, WEU and CSCE also have a role to play in these areas, according to their respective responsibilities and vocations. The affirmation of a European Security and Defense Identity will show that Europeans are ready to assume greater responsibility for their security, and will help to strengthen transatlantic solidarity. However, because of the number of its members and the breadth of its capabilities, NATO is uniquely positioned to fulfill these four essential security functions. NATO is the essential forum for consultation between the Allies and the forum where they agree on policies affecting their security and defense commitments under the Washington Treaty.
  4. By defining the essential functions of the Alliance in these terms, the Member States confirm that the scope of the Alliance's competence, as well as the rights and obligations provided for in the Washington Treaty, remain unchanged.

Part III – A broad conception of security

Protecting peace in a new Europe

  1. The Alliance has always sought to achieve its objectives – the maintenance of the security and territorial integrity of its members and the establishment in Europe of a just and lasting order of peace – by both political and military means. . This global approach remains the basis of its security policy.
  2. But what is new is that, due to profound changes in the security environment, the possibility of achieving Alliance objectives by political means has never been greater. We can now draw all the consequences from the fact that security and stability have political, economic, social and ecological dimensions, in addition to the indispensable defense dimension. Faced with the diversity of the challenges to which the Alliance is exposed, a broad conception of security is essential. This is reflected in three mutually complementary elements of Alliance security policy: dialogue, cooperation and the maintenance of a collective defense capability.
  3. Through an active search for dialogue and cooperation, based on the desire to maintain an effective collective defense capability, the Alliance intends to reduce the risk of conflict arising from a misunderstanding or a deliberate act, to increase the mutual understanding and trust between all European states, to facilitate the management of crises involving the security of the Allies, and to increase the possibilities of a genuine partnership between all the countries of Europe in the face of common security problems.
  4. In this respect, the Alliance's arms control and disarmament policy, which promotes both dialogue and cooperation with other countries, will continue to contribute greatly to the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. Through arms control and disarmament, Allies seek to increase security and stability at the lowest level of forces achievable taking into account defense requirements. The Alliance will thus continue to ensure that defence, arms control and disarmament objectives remain in harmony.
  5. In pursuing its fundamental objectives and performing its essential security functions, the Alliance will continue to respect the legitimate security interests of other states, and to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The Alliance will act for the development of peaceful and friendly international relations, and it will support democratic institutions. In this regard, it recognizes the valuable contribution made by other organizations such as the European Community and the CSCE, and knows that these institutions and the Alliance have complementary roles.


  1. The new situation in Europe has increased the Alliance's possibilities for dialogue with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Alliance has established diplomatic links and regular military contacts with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as provided for in the London Declaration. It will continue to promote dialogue through regular diplomatic liaison, and in particular by stepping up exchanges of views and information on security policy. Thus, the Allies will individually and collectively seek to take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunities offered by the flourishing of freedom and democracy throughout Europe, and they will seek to promote greater mutual understanding of each other's concerns. in terms of security, the aim being to increase transparency and predictability in terms of security, and thus to increase stability. The military can help bridge past divisions, including through increased military contact and transparency. By working for dialogue, the Alliance will provide a basis for better cooperation across Europe and for differences of opinion and conflicts to be resolved peacefully.


  1. The Allies are also determined to pursue cooperation with all European states on the basis of the principles set out in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. They will endeavor to develop broader and more productive methods of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in all relevant areas of European security, the aim being in particular to prevent crises or, where appropriate, to ensure their effective management. This kind of partnership between Alliance members and other countries facing specific problems will be an essential part of the transition towards a Europe whole and free, far from the divisions of the past. This cooperation policy is the expression of the inseparable nature of security between European states. It is based on the idea, uniformly accepted by the members of the Alliance, that if new political, economic or social divisions were to establish and persist in Europe, they could be the source of future instability, and it must therefore be reduced.

collective defense

  1. The political approach to security will therefore take on increasing importance. Nevertheless, the military dimension remains essential. The maintenance of adequate military capability and a demonstrated will to act collectively for common defense remain essential to the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives. Such potential, together with political solidarity, is necessary to prevent any attempt at coercion or intimidation and to ensure that military aggression against the Alliance cannot at any time be perceived as a solution offering any prospect of success. This potential is also essential so that dialogue and cooperation can be undertaken in confidence and produce the desired results.

Crisis management and conflict prevention

  1. In the new political and strategic context of Europe, the success of the Alliance's policy of preserving peace and preventing war depends even more than before on the effectiveness of preventive diplomacy and a effective management of crises involving the security of member countries. A large-scale attack in Europe is now much more improbable, and the warning time would be long. Although much smaller in magnitude, the range and diversity of other potential risks to the Alliance are less predictable than before.
  2. In these new circumstances, the possibilities for quickly resolving crises are greater than before. The success of Alliance policy will require a coherent approach, determined by Alliance political authorities, selecting and coordinating appropriate crisis management measures from a range of policy and other arrangements, including in the military field. From the beginning and at all stages, the political authorities of the Alliance will exercise close control. Appropriate consultation and decision-making procedures are essential in this regard.
  3. Opportunities for dialogue and cooperation must be fully developed throughout Europe, to help defuse crises and avoid conflicts, since the Allies' own security is inseparably linked to that of all other European states. To this end, the Allies will support the role of the CSCE process and its institutions. Other organisations, such as the European Community, Western European Union and the United Nations, may also have an important role to play.

Part IV – Guidance for Defense

Principles of Alliance Strategy

  1. The diversity of challenges currently facing the Alliance thus requires a broad conception of security. The transformation of the political and strategic context allows the Alliance to change a number of important features of its military strategy and to chart new directions, while reaffirming proven fundamental principles. At the London Summit, it was therefore decided to establish a new military strategy and a force posture revised according to the evolution of the situation.
  2. The Alliance's strategy will continue to reflect a number of fundamental principles. The Alliance is purely defensive in nature: it will never use any of its weapons except to defend itself, and it does not see itself as anyone's adversary. The Allies will retain sufficient military power to convince any potential aggressor that the use of force against the territory of one of the Allies would be met with collective and effective action by all of them and that the risks involved in the outbreak of a conflict would outweigh any gains it might expect. Allied forces must therefore be able to defend the borders of the Alliance, to halt the progress of an aggressor as far forward as possible, to maintain or restore the territorial integrity of Allied countries and to put a rapid end to to war by causing an aggressor to reconsider his decision, cease his attack and withdraw. Their role is to guarantee the territorial integrity and political independence of the Member States, thus contributing to ensuring peace and stability in Europe.
  3. The security of all Allies is indivisible: an attack on one is an attack on all. As a result, solidarity and strategic unity within the Alliance are essential conditions for collective security. The achievement of the Alliance's objectives very much depends on an equitable sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities, as well as the advantages of common defence. The presence in Europe of North American conventional forces and United States nuclear forces remains essential to the security of this continent, which is inextricably linked to that of North America. As the process of developing a European security identity and defense role progresses and is reflected in the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, the European members of the Alliance will assume a greater degree responsibility for the defense of Europe.
  4. The collective character of Alliance defense is embodied in practical arrangements which bring to the Allies the fundamental political, military and resource advantages which flow from collective defence, and which prevent the renationalisation of defense policies, without depriving the Allies of their sovereignty. These arrangements are based on an integrated command structure as well as cooperation and coordination agreements. Among their key elements are collective force plans, joint operational plans, multinational formations, the stationing of forces outside the national territory, if necessary on a reciprocal basis, measures for crisis management and reinforcement, consultation procedures, common standards and procedures for equipment, training and logistics, joint and combined exercises, and cooperation in infrastructure, armaments and logistics.
  5. To protect peace and prevent war or any form of coercion, the Alliance will for the foreseeable future maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces based in Europe and kept up to speed where necessary, even if that level will be significantly reduced. Both elements are essential to its safety and cannot replace one another. Conventional forces contribute to the prevention of war by ensuring that no would-be aggressor can hope to achieve quick or easy victory, or territorial gains, by conventional means. Given the diversity of risks the Alliance could face, it must maintain the forces necessary to have before it a whole range of possible conventional responses. But the Alliance's conventional forces alone cannot prevent war. Nuclear weapons make a unique contribution by making the risks of aggression incalculable and unacceptable. They therefore remain essential to the preservation of peace.

The new Alliance force structure

  1. At the London Summit, the Allies concerned decided to move away, where appropriate, from the notion of “forward defense” towards that of a reduced forward presence, at the same time as modifying the principle of “graduated response” to take into account less dependence on nuclear weapons. This evolution, determined by the new strategic context and by the different risks which the Alliance now faces, allows for significant changes in the missions of the Allied armed forces and in their arrangements.

The missions of the armed forces of the Alliance

  1. The primary role of the Alliance's armed forces, namely to guarantee the security and territorial integrity of member states, remains unchanged. However, this role must take into account the new strategic context, in which a single massive and global threat has given way to various risks from multiple sources. Alliance forces have different functions to perform in times of peace, in times of crisis and in times of war.
  2. In times of peace, the role of the allied armed forces is to protect member countries against risks weighing on their security, to contribute to the maintenance of stability and balance in Europe and to ensure the preservation of peace. They can contribute to dialogue and cooperation across Europe by participating in trust-building activities, including those that increase transparency and improve communication, as well as in the verification of arms control. The Allies could also be called upon to contribute to stability and peace in the world by providing forces for United Nations missions.
  3. In the event of a crisis that could ultimately pose a military threat to the security of member countries, the armed forces of the Alliance can supplement and reinforce political action within the framework of a broad conception of security, and thus contribute to the management of these crises and their peaceful resolution. This requires that these forces have the ability to react in a timely and measured manner in such circumstances, to deter action against any Ally and, in the event of aggression, to respond to and repel it. as well as to restore the territorial integrity of the Member States.
  4. In the new security context, a general war in Europe has become highly unlikely, but it cannot be definitively ruled out. The armed forces of the Alliance, whose fundamental mission is to protect peace, must constitute the main insurance against potential risks at the minimum level necessary to prevent any kind of war and, in the event of aggression, to restore peace. Hence the need for the capabilities and the appropriate mix of forces that have already been described.

Guidelines for the Alliance's military system

  1. In order to be able to achieve their security objectives and apply their strategic principles in the new context, the forces of the Allies must be organized in such a way as to be able to contribute to the preservation of peace, to the management of crises affecting the security of member countries , and to the prevention of war, by retaining at all times the means to defend, if necessary, the whole of the territory of the Alliance and to restore peace. The deployment of the Allied forces will conform to the orientations developed in the paragraphs below.
  2. The size, readiness and readiness and deployment of Alliance armed forces will continue to reflect their strictly defensive nature and will be adapted as appropriate to the new strategic context, including arms control agreements. This means in particular:
    1. that the overall size of Allied forces and, in many cases, their readiness will be reduced;
    2. that the maintenance of a complete linear defense system in the Center region will no longer be necessary. The geographical distribution of forces in peacetime will ensure an adequate military presence throughout the territory of the Alliance, including, where necessary, the forward deployment of appropriate forces. Regional considerations will have to be taken into account, and in particular geostrategic differences within the Alliance, with in particular shorter warning times for the North and South regions than for the Center region and, with regard to the southern region, the potential for instability and the military capabilities that exist in adjacent areas.
  3. To be able, at this reduced level, to play an effective role in crisis management and in the event of aggression against any Ally, the Allied forces will need increased flexibility and mobility and it will be necessary to ensure that they can be completed in due time. That is why :
    1. the forces available will include, in limited but militarily significant proportion, immediate and rapid reaction land, air and naval elements capable of responding to a wide range of circumstances, many of which are unpredictable. They will be of sufficient quality, volume and level of readiness to enable them to prevent a limited attack by deterrence and, if necessary, to defend Allied territory against attacks, particularly those launched without a long warning period;
    2. Allied forces will be organized in such a way that they can build up in time. This ability to generate greater military potential through reinforcement, mobilization of reserves or reconstitution of forces will have to be determined in proportion to the potential threats to the security of the Alliance, including in the event – improbable, certainly, but which prudence requires not to exclude – where a major conflict would break out. Therefore, timely reinforcement and resupply capabilities, both within Europe and from North America, will be of paramount importance;
    3. appropriate force structures and procedures, in particular to allow forces to be supplemented, deployed and downgraded quickly and selectively, will be put in place to enable a response in a timely, measured and flexible manner to reduce and defuse tensions. These arrangements should be regularly checked in peacetime during exercises;
    4. in the event of the use of forces, and in particular the deployment of reaction and reinforcement units, as an instrument of crisis management, the political authorities of the Alliance will ensure, as before, close control of their implementation at all stadiums. Existing procedures will be reviewed in the light of new missions and the new posture of Alliance forces.

Characteristics of conventional forces

  1. It is essential that the armed forces of the Allies credibly possess the capacity to fulfill their functions in times of peace, crisis and war, taking into account the new security context. This will be reflected in force levels, equipment levels, readiness and readiness, training and exercises, deployment and employment options, and the ability to build larger forces, all of which will be adjusted accordingly. The conventional forces of the Allies will include, in addition to the immediate and rapid reaction forces, main defense units, which will provide the bulk of the forces necessary to ensure the territorial integrity of the Alliance and to guarantee the unhindered use of the lines Communication ; they will also consist of auxiliary units, which will make it possible to reinforce the existing potential in a particular region. The main defense forces and the support forces will include both active and mobilisable elements.
  2. Land, sea and air forces will need to cooperate closely, combine and assist each other in operations to achieve agreed objectives. These forces will be:
    1. land forces, essential to hold or recover a territory. In most cases, readiness levels will normally be lower, and overall there will be a greater emphasis on mobilization and reserves. All categories of ground forces should have demonstrable combat effectiveness and their ability to deploy flexibly should be improved as appropriate;
    2. naval forces, which, due to their inherent mobility, flexibility and ability to conduct prolonged operations, make an important contribution to the arrangements which provide the Alliance with various options on how to react in the event of of crisis. Their essential missions are to ensure control of the seas to safeguard the Allies' maritime lines of communication, to support land and amphibious operations, and to protect the deployment of the Alliance's on-board nuclear deterrents;
    3. air forces, including the ability to fulfill their fundamental roles in both independent air operations and in combined operations - air superiority operations, air interdiction and offensive air support operations - as well as to participate in surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare, is essential to the overall effectiveness of Allied armed forces. The support they must provide to land and sea operations will require that they possess appropriate long-range transport and air-to-air refueling capabilities. Air defense forces, including modern air command and control systems, are needed to ensure a secure air defense environment.
  3. Given the potential risks it represents, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction will require particular attention. Solving this problem will require the implementation of complementary approaches using, for example, export controls and missile defense systems.
  4. The Alliance's strategy does not involve any dependence on the possession of chemical weapons. The Allies remain resolutely in favor of the earliest possible achievement of a universal, comprehensive and effectively verifiable ban on all chemical weapons. However, even after the application of a universal ban, precautions of a purely defensive nature will still be necessary.
  5. In the new security environment, and in view of future reductions in overall force levels, the ability to cooperate closely, which will promote cost-effective use of Alliance resources, will be particularly important for the accomplishment of the missions of Allied forces. . The collective defense organization of the Alliance, in which, for the countries concerned, the integrated military structure, including multinational forces, plays the key role, will be essential in this respect. Integrated and multinational European structures, as they continue to develop in the context of an emerging European Defense Identity, will also increasingly have an equally important role to play in enhancing the capability of Allies to work together for common defense. The efforts of the Allies towards the broadest possible cooperation will be guided by the common guidelines for defense set out above. Practical arrangements will be developed to ensure the necessary mutual transparency and complementarity between the European Security and Defense Identity and the Alliance.
  6. In order to be able to adapt to a very diverse set of circumstances, the Allies concerned will need effective surveillance and intelligence capabilities, flexible command and control systems, effective possibilities to move within regions and between regions, and appropriate logistical capacities, including transport. Logistic stocks must be sufficient to support all types of forces and thus allow effective defense pending resupply. The ability of the Allies concerned to build up larger, well-equipped and well-trained forces, in a timely manner and at a level commensurate with any risk to the security of the Alliance, will also be a key asset for crisis management. and defense. It will encompass the capability to reinforce any part of Allied territory that is in danger and to establish a multinational presence where and when required. Elements of all three categories of forces will be able to operate flexibly for intra-European or transatlantic reinforcement. Effective use of these capabilities will require mastery of the necessary lines of communication, as well as appropriate arrangements for support and drills. Civilian resources will be increasingly important in this regard.
  7. For the Allies concerned, the collective defense system will rely more and more on the formation of multinational units, supplementing the national contributions to NATO. The existence of such units testifies to the Alliance's resolve to maintain a credible collective defence, increases its cohesion, strengthens the transatlantic association and consolidates the European pillar. The creation of multinational forces, in particular reaction forces, goes in the direction of greater solidarity. It could thus offer the possibility of deploying more efficient units than would perhaps be purely national elements, thus contributing to a more efficient use of the limited resources that are available for defence. This may require a highly integrated multinational approach to specific tasks and functions.

Characteristics of nuclear forces

  1. The fundamental role of the Allies' nuclear forces is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and all forms of war. They will continue to fulfill an essential role in maintaining uncertainty in the minds of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression. They demonstrate that aggression, whatever its form, is not a rational option. The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is ensured by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, in particular those of the United States; the independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which perform a deterrence role of their own, contribute to the deterrence and overall security of the Allies.
  2. In order for the Alliance's nuclear posture to remain credible and for the Alliance's solidarity and common will to prevent war to be demonstrated, it remains necessary for the European allies involved in collective defense planning to play a large part in the nuclear forces, to the stationing of nuclear forces in peacetime on their territory and to the arrangements for control, command and consultation. The nuclear forces based in Europe and assigned to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the Europeans and the North American members of the Alliance. That is why the Alliance will maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe. These forces must have the necessary characteristics, flexibility and survivability to be seen as a credible and effective part of the Allies' strategy for the prevention of war. They will be maintained at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability.
  3. The Allies concerned believe that, due to the drastic changes in the security situation, in particular with the maintenance of conventional force levels in Europe in a state of relative equilibrium and the lengthening of reaction times, NATO will be much better able to defuse a crisis by diplomatic or other means, or to conduct an effective conventional defense if necessary. The circumstances in which they might have to consider any use of nuclear weapons thus become even more remote. As a result, they are able to significantly reduce their substrategic nuclear forces. They will maintain adequate sub-strategic nuclear forces in Europe, which will provide an essential link with strategic nuclear forces, thus strengthening the transatlantic link. These substrategic forces will consist solely of dual-capability aircraft, which could, if necessary, be supplemented by naval systems. But, in normal times, no strategic nuclear weapons will be deployed on a surface ship or on an attack submarine. Nuclear artillery and short-range surface-to-surface nuclear missiles are not required, and these weapon systems will be eliminated.

Part V – Conclusion

  1. This Strategic Concept reaffirms the defensive character of the Alliance and the will of its members to safeguard their security, their sovereignty and their territorial integrity. The Alliance's security policy is based on dialogue, cooperation and effective collective defence, which are mutually complementary means of preserving peace. Making full use of the new possibilities opening up to it, the Alliance will maintain security at the lowest level of forces permitted by defense requirements. In this way, it makes an essential contribution to the establishment of lasting peace.
  2. Allies will continue to pursue vigorously further progress in arms control and confidence-building measures, with the objective of enhancing security and stability. They will also play an active role in intensifying dialogue and cooperation between States on the basis of the principles set out in the Charter of Paris.
  3. NATO's strategy will remain flexible enough to take into account any new developments in the politico-military situation, in particular progress made towards the affirmation of a European Security Identity, as well as changes in the risks to Alliance security. For the Allies concerned, this Strategic Concept will form the basis for further work concerning the Alliance's defense policy, its operational concepts, its conventional and nuclear force postures and its collective system of defense planning.
  1. In July 1997, Heads of State and Government agreed that the Strategic Concept should be reviewed to ensure that it is fully compatible with the new security situation and challenges in Europe. . The Council was invited to begin work with a view to completing it in time for submission to the next Summit in 1999.

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