Security: A Frank Debate Is Needed on NATO’s Future
With the conclusion next year of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan, NATO will have conducted over 25 operations on land, at sea, and in the air. In recent times, nearly 200,000 allied servicemen and -women have been deployed, mostly at a strategic distance outside Europe. The Kosovo Force (KFOR) presence continues, as does the Ocean Shield counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. The impact of all these operations on national finances, let alone human lives and injuries, has been substantial. Yet with NATO not engaged in Mali or Syria and focused instead on Patriot missiles in Turkey and missile defense in Central and Eastern Europe, there is no escaping the fact that the alliance will no longer be able to define itself by its ownership of large, ongoing operations. It needs to begin now to adapt to this new reality, most urgently in three areas.