Lara MARTINHO (Portugal)
30 April 2019
Recent NATO summits have outlined a series of initiatives designed to respond to a growing set of challenges facing the Alliance. In the East an increasingly aggressive and assertive Russia is refocusing attention on defence and deterrence at home. Terrorism and instability along the Alliance’s southern flank have increased efforts to cooperate with partner states and to hone intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance abilities. Multi-directional and domain challenges at home to thwart cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and other challenges are also adding initiatives and channeling resources. As a result, the byword around NATO HQ for a whole-of-Alliance response is the 360-degree approach to defence and deterrence.
Underpinning these initiatives is a greatly expanded military exercise programme. This draft report finds increasing NATO exercises both in quantity and quality is a win-win scenario for the Alliance. Exercises test, train, and prepare Alliance forces for the new challenges of today’s international security environment. Inter-Allied exercising improves interoperability and fosters transatlantic solidarity. Effective exercises are also essential to the credibility of Alliance deterrence. At a time when NATO is working to boost its deterrence posture, military exercises demonstrate to external actors the Alliance’s capabilities, readiness, unity, and political will. For internal actors, NATO exercises foster political goodwill via reassurance and give domestic audiences a concrete illustration of the security provided by the Alliance and investments in military forces.