NATO’s Military Structure: Change and Continuity

Article

NATO’s ability to accord and shape security environment can be considered in four folds of which all are mutually integrated: Alliance’s solidarity, coherent common vision, consolidated security architecture and the capacity for rational prioritisation, and effective operational conduct. ...

Abstract

NATO’s ability to accord and shape security environment can be considered in four folds of which all are mutually integrated: Alliance’s solidarity, coherent common vision, consolidated security architecture and the capacity for rational prioritisation, and effective operational conduct. The security architecture of the Alliance covers both core and peripheral organizations. The core organization conducts basic functions of the Alliance with the participation of the member states. Core or internal organization of the Alliance is composed of political, military and other complementary structures. The military structure of NATO is of two components;command and the force structure. Command structure comprises military headquarters responsible for the command and control of the military forces. Force structure of the Alliance is made up of forces allocated to NATO by member states. The Alliance has experienced four major transformative steps in command structure since its establishment. The initial force structure of the Alliance which covers all allocated forces to NATO has transformed to deployable force structure by three subsequent changes after the Cold War. The new structure is set based upon considerations on a gradual readiness level. This paper deals with the historical changes and continuity of NATO’s both command and force structures’ transformation and their justifications -which have been rarely studies academically. Based up on this knowledge adequacy, effectiveness and rationality of both structures are scrutinised.The argument of the paper is that throughout NATO’s past the military structures has not only been a result of organizational change but also one of the main causes and determinants for the evolution and transformation of the Alliance.

Keywords: NATO, NATO’s transformation, NATO’s military organization, NATO’s command structure, NATO’s force structure.


Introduction

NATO is unique, as being the longest-lasting and most successful alliance in the history of mankind. The premise behind its conspicuous sustainability the ability of the Alliance to proactively and effectively manage change in the face of uncertainty while preserving its commitment to founding values, interests and principles. NATO’s ability to accord and shape security environment can be considered in four folds of which all are mutually integrated: First, the Alliance’s solidarity based upon collective security fortified by value-based functioning of TTPs (tactic, technique and procedures).Second, this nature of unity enables the Alliance to develop coherent common vision which embodies for both policies of the Alliance and grand strategies of the member states. Third, the interrelation between common values like democratic culture, consultation, fair burden share and consolidated vision within the framework of strategic concepts help to shape the security architecture as well as PPBPS (planning, programming, budgeting, procedures and systems) of the organization. Forth, all these contribute to determine priorities and member states’ participations to NATO operations.

As noted above the security architecture is one of the four basic elements of NATO. The security architecture of the Alliance covers both core and peripheral organizations. The peripheral structure deals with relations with partners. As an umbrella organization, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) provides a multilateral forum for dialogue and consultation on political and security-related issues among Allies and partners. This architecture also includes additional initiatives such as MD (Mediterranean Dialogue), ICI (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), CC (Contact Countries) also coded as PatG (Partners across the Globe). The core organization conducts basic functions of the Alliance with the participation of the member states.

Core or internal organization of the Alliance is composed of political, military and complimentary structures. NATO is a political alliance as well as a security organization. As the ontological certainty of the Alliance, collective security can be considered as the ‘raison d’état’ of the organization1 which also put forth the crystal-clear military influence to the whole organizational and functional entities.

Strategic concepts draw general guidelines for the realization of the vision, more important than that they are main document to clarify pure identity of the organization. Starting from the first strategic document; “The Strategic Concept for Defence of the North Atlantic Area“2 to the final strategic concept named “Active Engagement, Modern Defence“3 dated 2010 which outlines three essential core tasks –collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security– all high-level documents consider the primus inter pares nature of security without any exception. Thus, military interferences shape the structures and procedures of the Alliance. The main thesis of the paper is that throughout NATO’s past changes in military structure has constituted consistent continuity. Supplementary argument of the paper is that the military organization of NATO has not only been a result of organizational arrangements but also one of the main determinants for the evolution and transformation of the Alliance. This paper deals with the historical changes and continuity of NATO’s both command and force structures transformation and their justifications. Based up on this knowledge adequacy, effectiveness and rationality of both structures are scrutinised.


Military Influence on the Core Political Organization and Decision Making Process in NATO

Military influence on political decision-making process spurred from both functional and structural causes. This influence’s functionality lies in NATO’s major mission on preserving security of its members. Structural character of this influence results from its heavily security-based organizational architecture. Led by the political decision-making bodies NATO’s military structure has been one of the leading factors of its military formation. Apart from that there have been mutual interferences between the military structure and transformation of the Alliance.NATO’s political structure particularly the NAC (North Atlantic Council) which take decisions on Permanent (representatives) Council or ministerial level meetings or the summits attended by heads of state or government, has always been the steering body for all functions of the Alliance having said that NAC is not an influence-proof organization. Not only national interests and expectations of the member states but also collective initiatives and internal organizations of the Alliance which support the NAC, help to shape NATO’s organizational changes. Thanks to this type of conduct which makes NATO an open-system helps the Alliance to be more resilient and flexible.

It is taken from TASAM Publishing's book named “New World Architecture Of Economy and Security“
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