NATO's Agenda

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is one of the most important and visible pillars of the transatlantic partnership.'s web module "NATO's Agenda" is designed to connect Atlantic Community members to NATO decision makers and encourage constructive debate on the issues facing the Alliance.

"NATO's Agenda" features articles, speeches, and videos spotlighting the activities of the Alliance, including content from NATO sources and analyses from Atlantic Community members. It is also the hub for's Question and Answer sessions with senior NATO officials. Our most recent Q&As were with:

You can contribute to the debate by submitting your own op-eds and commenting on other articles. The best ideas and debates are condensed into Atlantic Memos and sent to policymakers in Europe and North America.

Atlantic Community Spring Highlights

It is now the end of the spring quarter, and we wrap up the season with a look back at some of the highlights of early 2014. So far it has been an eventful year for the foreign policy community at large and our members have been especially busy. Presented below are some of the editorial team’s picks for spring 2014’s most significant moments at Atlantic Community. View

Playing the Long Game in Ukraine

Europe and the US must use a long-term strategy to reverse Russia's moves in Ukraine. Helping Kiev to make a democratic Ukrainian state, whose politics and economy contrasts favorably with life in any occupied Russian zone, will play to the soft power appeal of Europe over Russia's military dominance. Since neither Russia nor NATO want a shooting war over Ukraine, the "winner" of this contest will instead be the side which can fulfill the aspirations of Ukraine's heterogeneous population the best. View

Atlantic Community Debates Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine has also inspired strong debate among Atlantic Community members. Featuring a total of ten articles from around Europe and North America, the Ukraine crisis has generated a total of 59 comments. "Only Western-Russian Cooperation Can Stop Ukraine from Fracturing," by Oleg Khlopov of the Russian State University for Humanities, got an impressive 12 comments, but Heinrich Bonnenberg's "EU's Eastern Partnership to Blame for Crisis over Ukraine" generated the most with 15! View

Political Parties and Political Development in Afghanistan

The writer analyzes the level of development of political parties in Afghanistan and discusses whether or not they have been successful in institutionalizing themselves as organizations. The author argues that this is a necessary perquisite for the development of stable democratic institutions in a developing country's emerging political system. He believes that this is not yet the case with Afghan politics. View

NATO on Duty

NATO on Duty illustrates where the Alliance is working around the clock and around the world, to keep our citizens free and safe now and for the future. From the skies of Iceland to the waters of the Indian Ocean, and from Afghanistan to the Atlantic, men and women from across the Alliance are engaged in military operations and missions to keep our countries safe and make our world more secure. View

Germany Must Take Baltic Security Concerns More Seriously

All NATO member countries have to demonstrate that Baltic freedom and security are not less valuable than Germany's or any other member state's security. Moscow will interpret any sign of hesitation as weakness and act accordingly, argues Dr. Artis Pabriks, member of Latvia's parliament and defense minister until January. In this exclusive article for, he asks what would happen if Germany faced the need to go to war for the Baltics as Article 5 of the NATO Treaty requires? View

NATO is Back: The Need for Forward Presence in Eastern Europe

There is no doubt, NATO is back! With the annexation of Crimea, Russia broke with the post-Cold War consensus not to alter any borders by force. These sad new facts will surely bolster NATO’s role as a regional defense alliance. Before thinking about the new geopolitical circumstances, the first step must be assuring eastern NATO members that we are committed to their defense. Commitment, however, must go beyond mere verbal assurances. View

On Joining NATO: The Day I Changed Colour

2014 is a year when NATO—and its members—have a lot to celebrate. It is the 65th anniversary of the Alliance and the 15th, 10th, and fifth anniversaries of membership for those countries that have joined since the end of the Cold War. In this narrative, Marcela Zelníčková, the first Czech citizen employed by NATO, offers her personal recollections of the day her country's membership took effect and reflects on why joining the Alliance was so momentous. View

The Ukraine Crisis and the Potential Revival of NATO

The on-going crisis in Ukraine, in which Russia violated Ukrainian sovereignty and threatened its territorial integrity, is a major test to the NATO's effectiveness. If it passes this test and acts assertively, it may lead to NATO's revival, a highly desirable development from the point of view of Poland and the Baltic states. To do this, NATO must seriously re-evaluate its relations with its Eastern allies as well as Russia. If it fails to pass this test, it may herald the fall of post-Cold War order. View

Kabul's Military Hospital

A look inside Kabul's premier military hospital, Dawood, run by the Afghan Ministry of Defence, where casualties are brought from the frontlines all over Afghanistan for treatment. We follow an IED casualty brought in via medevac and interview key personnel at the hospital. Healthcare standards have drastically improved in recent years, and continue to do so. Standards of cooperation between NATO and the Afghan military remain high. View

NATO and Russia: Uneasy Partners?

Officially, NATO and Russia don't see each other as enemies. Both NATO and Russia have made strong claims that they want to collaborate more with each other. Russia wants more collaboration in areas like missile defence. NATO wants more linking up in activities covered by the NATO-Russia Council. Yet despite both sides' enthusiasm, collaboration is at one of its lowest levels for ages. There is effectively a 'pause' in many areas. How did this happen? And what can be done? View

A Crimea in Russia, a Ukraine in NATO, a G7 without Russia?

By offering Ukraine membership, NATO can ensure that Russia loses more than it gains by seizing Crimea. The new government in Kiev can help by reassuring eastern Ukrainians, garnering broad-based public support for NATO membership. Preserving existing language protection laws was an important first step, and Kiev must continue to engage eastern citizens to ensure their support. View

Poland Primed to Lead: Sikorski for NATO Secretary General

Anders Fogh Rasmussen's five-year term as NATO Secretary-General is soon to end. While Great Britain and her Western peers all boast compelling candidates, Central and Eastern Europe believe the time has come for one of their own to lead NATO's forces: Poland's Foreign Minister, Radek Sikorski. Pragmatic, open, and tough when necessary, he is an Atlanticist in every sense of the word. That is precisely what NATO's heretofore Western-dominated leadership needs. View

The Commandos - The Special Forces Unit in Afghanistan's Army

Ready for deployment any time of the day or night, the Commandos make up a formidable force within the Afghan Army. We take a look at what it takes to be a member of this elite force. This 12 week long programme, comprised of intensive physical and mental tests, provides the Afghan Special Forces with the skills to counter insurgent threats anywhere in the country. View

US and the EU: More Protection than Defence?

Defence companies from the EU and US have clear barriers between them. Though companies from either side of the Atlantic work together, this often despite their countries being Allies, not because of it. But new trade initiatives should bring the two major markets closer together. TTIP for instance, would create a "favorable environment" for closer defence cooperation (Steve Williams, Lockheed Martin). Could this improve defence collaboration - and benefit Western countries and NATO? View

Europe's Choice: Blood or Treasure

With its inefficient militaries and declining defense budgets, how can European NATO members regain their relevancy in an alliance increasingly dominated—both strategically and financially—by Washington? While answers to this question have thus far proven elusive, a cost-sharing strategy designed to incentivize greater European participation in training and deployments would be a solid first step in arresting the continent's military decline. View

The Secretary General's Annual Report 2013

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Annual Report 2013 focuses on NATO's achievements in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Turkey and against piracy and the ways to ensure an efficient and capable NATO for 2014 and beyond. He concentrates on the areas of Active Engagement, Broad Partnerships and Modern Defence. His emphasis lies on fiscal constraints in Europe and how NATO can remain strong despite these conditions. View

Europe's Other Deficit

Europe is suffering from a defense deficit, as evidenced by the European military action in Libya and Mali. This is a result of Europe's complacent Kantian worldview. Sadly, as recent tensions in Asia demonstrate, the world is a dangerous place. With America's declining willingness to protect the international world order, Europe must do more to boost its military capabilities by realizing the necessity for a more cooperative and specialized structure. View

NATO Response Force 2014 Certified

The NATO Response Force 2014 has been officially certified. After a busy training season this autumn, NATO's rotational, quick-response force is now ready and capable to respond to various types of crises anywhere in the world. At the final certification exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 personnel from all 28 NATO and several partner nations demonstrated their ability to work together effectively in joint-multinational operations. View

Highlights in 2013

We would like to thank all members for your contributions and to remind you of the standout achievements of our open think tank this year. Atlantic Community has continued to debate issues that are important to the transatlantic partnership through our Q&A's, Theme Weeks, and Atlantic Memos. Your ideas are making an impact, receiving responses from prominent policy officials, and we look forward to your contributions in the months and years to come. View

The Future Will Be Much Brighter If NATO and the U.S. Face It Together

Since the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, the trans-Atlantic community of free nations has formed the bedrock of world security. Almost sixty five years later, NATO is and will remain the irreplaceable vehicle by which the nation states that comprise the alliance will remain protected from external aggression, best able to cope with a new pandemic of threats that seek to infect them from within, and their citizens best assured a future lived in peace. View

Northern Distribution Network: Redefining Partnerships Within NATO and Beyond

The Northern Distribution Network itself, and its future prospects, escape definition. There are many different transportation routes stretching across Eurasia. Some of these are possibly more functional than others, but all can be combined in many different ways, creating a complex mosaic of the NDN and complementary (or rivaling) channels. Each segment of the NDN in each transit country is influenced by numerous factors; the stakeholders pursue different, sometimes vaguely defined, goals. View

From Laggard to Top Student: How CSDP Started to Matter in Poland

The European Council December meeting is widely expected to fall short of materializing any substantial changes to EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Low expectations echo a general sentiment of disappointment with the recent stagnation of European defense ambitions. However, against the backdrop of general torpor there is one beacon of optimism for CSDP to become more relevant: Poland's push for a more ambitious security policy. View

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu Responds to Member Questions

The upcoming European Council summit in December is the first heads of state level summit since 2005 to focus on the issue of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Due to increased instability in the European neighborhood, it is necessary that the EU adopt a proactive approach to their future defense and security mechanisms. On this occasion, Oana Lungescu responds to member questions about EU-NATO relations and the importance of this partnership to European defense. View

How Defence Matters in NATO Countries

NATO has asked think tanks from eight European and North American allied countries to assess the national conversation on defence and to provide recommendations on how to stimulate this debate. Today, Carnegie Europe hosted a conference in Brussels to reflect on the conclusions of the "Defence Matters" project. In essence, defence still matters, but the wider strategic community needs to do a much better job at explaining why and how. View

NATO General Palomeros Responds to Member Questions

The Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Jean-Paul Paloméros, answers questions about procurement, multi-national air force projects, cooperation with the EU, Smart Defence and interoperability among Allies with different technological advancement. NATO's Allied Command Transformation drives, facilitates, and advocates continuous improvement of Alliance capabilities to maintain and enhance NATO's military relevance and effectiveness. View

EU-NATO Relations: Participate in Q&A with NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu

Following the mounting security threats in the EU’s neighbourhood, the issue of defence and CSDP will be addressed at the European Council in December. With this meeting in mind, Atlantic Community invites you to take part in a Q&A on EU-NATO relations with NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. The EU-NATO relationship plays an important role in ensuring efficient defence policy. Submit your comments and questions by Sunday, November 24, 2013. View

How the US can Repair the Transatlantic Relationship

The drip fed leaks about NSA spying on US allies has severely damaged transatlantic and US-German relations. Both the US and Germany are aware of the importance of their partnership, but it should be the US that takes the first step to rectify this fallout. In order to show that Germany is regarded as an important ally, Obama should invite Germany to sign a no-spy pact with the US or could also invite Merkel to Washington for a series of high-profile meetings with American business officials. View

The Balkan "Power-Shift Syndrome:" Avoiding a "Grey Zone" or a "New Berlin Wall" in the (Western) Balkans

The fact that so many political and security problems have been left simmering under the surface in an incomplete EU/NATO area in the (Western) Balkans, where emerging actors and potential eastern empires have been seeking to establish themselves as a preliminary stage in imposing their strategic interests upon the West, compels one to regularly question the region’s long-term prospects.And no one seems to be more suspicious of the region’s future than the locals themselves. View

How Latvia is Poised to be a Major Player in the Baltic and Beyond

Security in the Baltic region is a major concern for NATO as the it becomes more integrated into Europe and more of an economic player in the region. Latvia for instance, as one of the hosts of Steadfast Jazz, is poised to become a leader in not only the Baltic region but also all of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Through its growing economy and its investment in infrastructure to facilitate the Northern Distribution Network, Riga is seen by some as the new Constantinople. View

The Sorry State of European Military Strength

Europe was famously described as a “military worm” by Mark Eyskens, Belgian foreign affairs minister in 1991; but in light of the current situation perhaps that was quite flattering, which lowly creature could he compare Europe with today? A worm certainly shares some key characteristics with EU militaries; both have no arms and no teeth. In the face of economic austerity Europeans have been cutting military spending, and those cuts run deep. View

Speak Clearly and Load for Bear: The EU Needs to Take Defense Spending Seriously

As US attention begins to shift away from Europe, it is becoming clearer that European defense capabilities need to respond to this pivot. At present, Europe’s neighborhood raises some serious security concerns that need to be addressed. The creation of a European Defence Force (EDF), through the pooling of a proportion of national defense budgets could be one way of ensuring that the EU could respond in a unified fashion to threats to its security and borders. View

Georgia Picks a New President: A Reply

In a response to Hillary Hurd's article on the election of a new Georgian President, Nikolay Shevchenko outlines his views on this momentous result. In order to gain full appreciation of the event that took place, it is necessary to look past the Georgian relationships with Russia and the EU, and instead focus on the peaceful transfer of power. Shevchenko asserts that Georgia’s victory might well transform into a shared victory for many other post-Soviet states. View

Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: Atlantic Community members have come to a consensus that, due to current US drone policy, drones need to be regulated to prevent the emergence of a customary law. The latest Atlantic Memo "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy" seeks reform on both domestic and international levels, resulting in increased transparency and restricted armed drone deployment. View

Georgia Picks a New President

On Sunday, October 27, Georgians voted to elect their new President. Georgy Margvelashvili won handily with 62 percent of the vote making him the third President since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the first President to win through the ballot box. As many Georgians have questioned the logic to isolate themselves from such a powerful neighbor, Margvelashvili will seek to ease tensions between Russia and Georgia, while maintaining close relations with Europe. View

Helicopters - and why they're Important

Despite often being expensive, high maintenance and tricky to operate, armed forces know they need helicopters. Whether it's getting troops in, or the wounded out, helicopters are often the 'go to' choice. As part of its "Smart defence - in action" edition, NATO Review looks at nations' ongoing need for helicopters -- and what they're doing to make it easier to use them together. View

Infographic Guide to NATO Funding and Defense Expenditure

The Atlantic Council Canada has produced various infographics on defense spending, which show that the United States allocates a higher percentage of its GDP on defense than any other NATO member. The US is also the largest contributor to common funding, with Germany as the second greatest. Taking into account worldwide defense expenditure, the US spends $669 billion, while China spends $158 billion and France $63 billion. View

Draft Atlantic Memo: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: The editorial team has written a draft Atlantic Memo, outlining policy recommendations from our Theme Week, on "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy." The authors, as well as members who contributed insightful comments, are now working together to produce a final draft, which will be sent to experts for feedback. You can still participate in the discussion by commenting below. View

NATO's Military Transformation: Q&A with General Palomeros invites you to participate in our Q&A session with the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. General Jean-Paul Paloméros leads NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT), which drives, facilitates, and advocates continuous improvement of Alliance capabilities to maintain and enhance NATO's military relevance and effectiveness. Submit your questions by Sunday, October 27, 2013 and get answers from one of the most senior military leaders. View

Modern Defense: Better Smart Than Sexy?

A huge array of equipment that has flowed into Afghanistan over more than a decade must now leave in more or less 12 months. This means calling in some specialist kit to get the job done, including massive air transport planes. There are 14 countries (12 of them NATO members) who participate in a programme named Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). NATO Review looks at how several countries have worked together to share this kit, saving money and time. View

International Watchdog Needed to Monitor Drone Operations

To avoid a scenario such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, transatlantic partners need to work together to regulate the use of UAVs. In an attempt to curtail countries exploiting the new technology, UAVs should be registered with their respective national aviation authorities and an international watchdog should be set up to monitor their compliance with foreign airspace. Such regulations would prevent the misuse of drones in the future. View

Three Things Merkel Could Do To Improve the US-German Partnership

Angela Merkel's victory in Germany's recent federal elections deepens the transatlantic divide between Europe and the United States. The reasoning is simple: The Obama administration would like Germany and Merkel to take a more forceful leadership role in the European Union. Merkel has repeatedly failed to do that. To repair things, Merkel needs to make a bolder commitment to NATO, ease up on the NSA criticism, and make TTIP a German priority. View

Suicide Bombers and How to Beat Them

Imagine seeing a suspected suicide bomb car approaching. What are your options? Signal, shoot, flee? Now there's a new option. A technology is being tested at a secret location in Norway that can make a car's engine cut out using high-intensity jammers. Better still, it can also take out drones, jet skis, and any other vehicle used to deliver bombs. And it has also positively tested disrupting remote control-activated bombs -- even chemical and biological ones. View

Poland Takes a U-Turn Towards Increased National Security

Amidst shrinking defense spending in most nations, Poland is launching its most ambitious military modernization program in decades. Yet the need for this Komorowski Doctrine, which champions increased homeland defense and domestic capabilities, should come as no shock, considering the troops Poland has sent to NATO missions. With little promise of quick response from NATO in return, it is time for Poland to rely on its own capabilities in light of an aggressive Eastern front. View

German Parties' Foreign Policy: More Aligned Than Apart

With the upcoming German federal election on September 22, it is necessary to evaluate the stance each party is taking on pressing foreign policy issues. Included in this discussion are the platforms of the five main parties: the CDU, SPD, FDP, the Greens, and the Left, on issues ranging from exiting Afghanistan to Turkey's accession to the EU. While there's more cohesion in German politics than one might find across the pond, splits can still be seen on issues like TTIP and NATO. View

Towards a Zero Footprint Camp

Quite apart from cost, the energy dependence of the armed forces has an impact on operational effectiveness. Alliance operations involve an increasingly complex and costly logistical organisation. Transporting large quantities of fuel also creates risks to the safety of the soldiers. Reducing the energy footprint of operations is a priority. NATO and individual Allies are working on alternative energy sources and developing multinational ‘smart energy’ projects. View

Delegates Seek Innovative Solutions at Y8 and Y20 Summit

Policy Innovation e.V. and Atlantic Community collaborated in May 2013 for a Theme Week on the Y8 and Y20 summits that would take place in June. Through Atlantic Community members' commentary on the policy papers of the German Delegation to the Y8 and Y20, Atlantic Community had the unique ability to help shape the positions of the delegation. Policy Innovation's Press-Delegate Matthias Kaspers presents an overview of the experience and recommendations yielded by the summits. View

NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability

Air-and sea-lift capabilities are a key enabler for NATO operations – so that forces and equipment can be deployed quickly to wherever they are needed. The C-17 Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), which is based in Hungary, is a multinational initiative delivering a vital capability to the Alliance. It allows the ten participating NATO Allies and two partner nations to collectively own assets that would be prohibitively expensive to purchase individually. View

European Global Power Tied to Increased Defense Spending

There has always been a burden imbalance in the alliance between Europe and the US but this is unsustainable and impractical. Both the US and Europe were hit pretty hard during the last recession, which has forced the US to rethink, with regard to issues relating to security, the extent to which it takes up the slack that Europe is unable to. European nations need to seriously review their defense spending practices and capabilities or risk being left behind in a world of rising military threats. View

What NATO Must Do After ISAF

NATO still has an important role to play, even if its duties in Afghanistan are winding down. In light of the civil war in Syria and tension between Turkey, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel in regards to offshore gas, there should be a NATO maritime presence on the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s first naval task force in the Mediterranean in decades is also cause for a NATO show of strength in the region, and NATO should maintain its naval presence at the Horn of Africa. View