By: Andrew Rogan

In the period of November 4-9 the ATA, its Israeli member and NATO organized a joint Advanced Training Course in Israel.

Executive Summary

This Advanced Training Course (ATC) is designed to bring together senior military officials and policymakers with the goal of information sharing in counter-terrorism strategies and challenges. Today’s security landscape is marred by terrorism and the increasing threat of urban warfare continues to present a significant obstacle in operational defense. This ATC seeks to unpack the loaded idea of counter-terrorism, explore the structure of urban warfare, and provide relevant trainings, while also strengthening the strategic partnership between NATO and Israel. These issues are key components in the global fight against terrorism and offer both NATO and Israel tools to craft solutions for the future.


NATO’s experience in Afghanistan and Libya exposed the intersection of counter-terrorism and urban warfare, prompting an evaluation of modern security strategies. Taking this intersection into account, this briefing document will elaborate on each in the context of the NATO-Israel partnership and the added value of continued collaboration for both parties. It will also provide a framework for understanding the necessity of the trainings and discussions to take place during this ATC.


Since 2016, NATO has increased its counter-terrorism policy area to better respond to emerging challenges across the globe. Just this year, NATO has developed new strategies in the fight against terror.

Membership in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL

In July 2016, NATO joined as a partner to support the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL. As part of this Coalition, NATO provides both material and logistical assistance.

Material Assistance

Specifically, NATO pledged Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft (AWACS) to assist the coalition in gathering critical surveillance information with more flight hours. This information sharing is vital in the fight against militants. NATO also will offer air-to-air refueling operations and coordination efforts in strategy.

Logistical Assistance

Further, this pledge delivered new Mobile Training Teams to Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Jordan, and Tunisia with the goal of capacity-building in these at-risk states.

Military Training Programmes

NATO’s capacity building initiatives are essential to creating a lasting security strategy in vulnerable regions. By supporting law enforcement and military units in susceptible nations, NATO can provide a framework for successful security responses. Most recent, in February 2017, NATO launched a capacity building initiative in Iraq, teaching forces to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), supplying them with strategic and technical knowledge. Additionally, in March, NATO hosted medical training for Iraqi paramedics, as well as a training on the maintenance of military vehicles. This is in addition to the capacity building initiatives previously established in Iraq and Jordan, training Iraqi security forces in areas like cyber defense and countering roadside bombs.

NATO Hub for the South

In February 2017, the Defense Ministers of NATO Allies agreed upon the creation of a “Hub for the South.” In other words, this regional base, located at the Joint Force Command in Naples, will increase the scope of NATO’s comprehension of security in the Mediterranean region while also offering a strategic location for security responses. Inaugurated in September, this Hub is preparing to become a full-fledged intelligence center for emerging threats in the region.

NATO Terrorism Intelligence Cell

In 2016, NATO established a new Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD) dedicated to working on the changing threat environment of NATO member states. Of most significance in this case, the JISD is home to the new Terrorism Intelligence Cell, which was created in May of this year. It is designed to deliver intelligence worldwide to keep populations safe from the terror threat. By filling the gap of intelligence gathering and sharing, NATO can assist Allies in countering terrorism.

NATO Coordinator Oversight on Fight Against Terrorism

Yet another strategic change in the NATO counter terrorism response announced this year is the appointment of a Counter Terrorism Coordinator, tasked with oversight of efforts within NATO, particularly at the new Hub for the South. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg appointed existing NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, to take on this key role. The launch of the Hub for the South will make this position crucial to its success.

Urban Warfare

In light of recent events in Mosul and Aleppo, the implications of increased urban warfare are an essential point of dialogue. There is a need to coordinate strategies and share best practices to prepare capabilities in the urban warfare environment. For NATO, the Allied Command Transformation developed a conceptual study that continues to produce new knowledge in this field. Additionally, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have crafted a robust urban warfare military operation, equipped with a variety of groundwork techniques.

Urbanization Project

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) began the Urbanization Project in late 2013. This project is designed as a conceptual study to analyze NATO’s capabilities in urban warfare and to assess the threat level it may have. Over the course of the past three years, NATO has found its preparation for urban security risks limited. The Urbanization Experiment in Rome used simulations to evaluate NATO’s preparedness and the results were included in the Final Report issued in 2016. In verification of these results, the ACT conducted a wargame at the NATO Defense College. After review, NATO issued a Request for Proposal in August, citing the world’s ever-growing urban population and the changing landscape of security. It calls for a contractor to assist in the Concept Development of an urban warfare strategy designed for NATO implementation. This project will continue throughout 2017 and into 2018, as NATO develops new tactics and training exercises.

IDF Training

Israel’s experience during the Lebanon War invited the IDF to prepare a rigorous approach to urban warfare. Since then, the IDF has established an Urban Warfare Training Center, worked with US Marines to enhance their skills, and has conducted a variety of simulated exercises to adjust soldiers to the unique urban warfare environment. This includes civilian protection, proper squad formation, and engaging the enemy in close quarters. In May of this year, the IDF announced their plans to begin construction on the first of four brand-new advanced training facility. These facilities are intended to provide real-world scenario trainings for 21st century security threats, especially urban warfare. The inclusion of underground networks, enemy rocket launchers, and real soldiers equipped with mock-enemy tactics. Israel’s comprehensive approach to urban warfare is a significant step in the future security landscape.

NATO and Israel Cooperation

With varying capabilities amongst the two parties, cooperation is an avenue to forge stronger, more robust security strategies, drawing on the assets of each. Continued collaboration and the introduction of new partnership goals can further bridge NATO and Israel, closing the gaps in capacities and building a foundation for successful security.

Mediterranean Dialogue

Israel and NATO cooperation began in 1994 with the Mediterranean Dialogue, a forum designed to increase conversation with NATO allies and states in the Mediterranean region. A critical topic of discussion was, and still is, terrorism. Working alongside each other in this forum, NATO and Israel have shared crucial information and policies to assist in the fight against terror groups, while also exploring activities in science, innovation, and academia.

Israel IPCP and the Israel Mission to NATO

The key to NATO-Israel relations lies in the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme, which was ratified in 2008. This agreement was a huge step forward for the two parties’ relationship. It provided for an increase in intelligence sharing, joint military exercises, and electronic connectivity to the NATO system. The ongoing IPCP works continuously to keep both parties synchronized in overlapping issues.

Joint Military Exercises

NATO and Israel recently announced their intentions to engage in increased joint exercises for capacity building on both sides. This element is vital for properly preparing both sides in counter terrorism measures and urban warfare operations. Continuing these exercises is of utmost importance and both parties are seeking new methods to do so.

Sea Guardian

Taking the place of NATO’s Active Endeavour operation, Sea Guardian expands NATO cooperation with Mediterranean states and permits full maritime security tasks. Currently, this operation engages in three maritime security tasks. maritime situational awareness, maritime capacity building for Allied and partner nations, and, of most relevance, counter-terrorism at sea. The counter-terrorism strategy aims to deter, disrupt, and defend against any terrorist threats in the area. Of further importance, Operation Sea Guardian coordinates closely with the European Union’s Operation Sophia on details like information sharing and maritime cooperation. Operation Sophia’s goals of interrupting human trafficking in the Mediterranean plays an integral role in NATO’s Sea Guardian as well.


The above sections demonstrate the strengths of NATO and Israel in defense policy and how their partnership can expand these strengths to ensure a safer and more secure world. Both parties should seek a tighter alliance focused on information sharing, capacity building, and open dialogue. As security threats increasingly become more coordinated and precise, proactive responses present the opportunity to prepare and defend free world.