by Mrs. Sarah TARRY, Head of Operational Preparedness Section, NATO
During the ATA Conference “NATO-EU Cooperation after the Warsaw Summit: Countering Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid warfare is a nebulous concept, which has evolved over time. For NATO, it has come to be associated with state and non-state actors using a complex strategy of conventional and unconventional means to achieve their strategic objectives.  The measures taken are designed to target nations’ vulnerabilities and impede decision-making, often taking advantage of technological advances, especially those in cyber space and communications in general.

NATO’s strategy to counter hybrid warfare, which was agreed in December 2015, outlines three interrelated functions to counter hybrid threats: prepare, deter, and defend. The focus of this presentation was on the “prepare” aspect of the strategy, which is also where there is the most scope for NATO-EU cooperation. Specifically, NATO’s strategy calls for adaptation in three areas under this pillar: recognizing and attributing hybrid actions; supporting rapid assessment and effective decision-making, and building resilience.  In terms of the first area, NATO is focusing in particular on improving early warning and situational awareness, which will be enhanced by the establishment of a new Intelligence and Security Division.  Second, NATO has introduced a concept of accelerated decision-making and is in the process of adapting and reinforcing our standing plans and procedures to ensure they are fully tailored to this strategic environment.  Third, NATO is supporting Allies in their efforts to build their resilience and resistance to hybrid threats, including against their critical infrastructure and other essential functions and services.

In terms of NATO-EU cooperation in this area, the two organizations are currently developing proposals at the staff level to implement the Joint Declaration made at the Warsaw Summit.  A wide range of valuable contacts have already been established in the areas of resilience, early warning, information sharing, strategic communications, cyber, exercises, and capability development.  All these contacts, as well as the additional proposals currently under development, will improve the ability of the two organizations to cooperate in a hybrid crisis.