BRUSSELS - NATO's group of experts has called for the Alliance's new strategic concept to set out guidelines for future missions abroad, backed NATO involvement in territorial missile defense and recommended doing more to counter the threat of cyber attacks in a report published May 17.
"For all its assets, NATO is by no means the sole answer to every problem affecting international security," according to the report, which adds that "it has no desire to take on missions that other institutions and countries can be counted upon to handle."
The report suggests that decision-making factors should include the extent and imminence of danger to Alliance members, the exhaustion or apparent ineffectiveness of alternative steps and the ability and willingness of NATO members to provide the means required for success.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who led the group of experts producing the report, cautiously cited peacekeeping in the Middle East as a "possibility if parties are interested."
The report strongly backs NATO involvement in territorial missile defense, saying NATO should recognize it as an "essential mission" of the Alliance.
"The new U.S. phased, adaptive approach to ballistic missile defense provides an opportunity for the development of an effective NATO-wide strategy that would add to the defense of populations as well as forces," it says. "[The U.S. systems] are not directed against Russia, nor would they threaten Russia's nuclear deterrent" but would "allow for concrete security cooperation with Russia."
The expert group also says the risk of a large-scale cyber attack on NATO's command and control systems or energy grids "could possibly lead to collective defense measures under Article 5."
It therefore suggests that NATO's center of excellence should do more through training to help NATO countries improve their cyber defense programs, calls for a NATO-wide network of monitoring nodes and sensors to expand the Alliance's early warning capabilities, and argues that the Alliance should be prepared to send an expert team to any NATO country that is experiencing or is threatened by a major cyber attack.
Albright also said that NATO should address threats from non-state actors, including terrorism, cybersecurity and the disruption of maritime traffic lanes.
Other recommendations in the 55-page report include:
å Further evolving and coordinating national specialization and niche capabilities.
å Exploring opportunities for additional multinational procurement programs.
å Developing a NATO/EU defense capabilities agency.
å Reducing NATO headquarters operating costs.
å Shrinking the number of committees and agencies.
The report is meant as a basis for a debate leading up to the possible approval of a new strategic concept by NATO countries at a summit in November.