NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept: An Adaptive 20-year Strategy for NATO and its Allies

April 14, 2023


With the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the growing threats posed by China, NATO and its allies continue to transform and optimize the Alliance’s Military Instrument of Power. NATO Allied Command Transformation leads warfare development of military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines for the largest military alliance in history – through the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, the Alliance continues to promote democratic values and guarantee the freedom and security of its members.

At its core, NATO is committed to the collective defence of its member nations – this includes Deterrence and Defence, Crisis Prevention and Management, and Cooperative Security. With the accession of Finland, NATO now has 31 member nations, each with unique cultures and capabilities. To orient the direction for the Alliance’s military strategies, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept serves as long-term guidance for military objectives, as well as the ways and means in which to implement and achieve them.

The NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept includes five essential Warfare Development Imperatives, which help guide the Alliance throughout military transformations:

  • Cognitive Superiority: Understanding the operating environment and potential adversaries relative to Alliance’s own capabilities, capacities and objectives.
  • Layered Resilience: Improving the Alliance’s ability to absorb shocks and fight-on, in civilian, military, and additional contexts.
  • Influence and Power Projection: Shaping the environment to the Alliance’s advantage, including generating options for allies and imposing dilemmas on adversaries.
  • Cross-Domain Command: Revitalizing and enabling commanders’ to understand the multi-domain operating environment in order to act rapidly and effectively.
  • Integrated Multi-Domain Defence: Protecting the Alliance’s ability to decide and act against threats in any domain, regardless of their origin or nature.

Additionally, there are six “outs” for NATO to reinforce, which will enable the Alliance to stay ahead:

  1. Out-think, by anticipating threats and understanding the strategic environment
  2. Out-excel, by striving towards excellence through integrity, people and culture
  3. Out-fight, by operating decisively within and across domains
  4. Out-pace, by recognising risks, seizing opportunities, and decisively acting faster than adversaries
  5. Out-partner, by building interoperability and fostering mutually supportive relationships
  6. Out-last, by enduring resiliently through competition and conflict situations.

NATO Allied Command Transformation is responsible for the implementation of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept – Allied Command Transformation aligns these applications with its three priorities: Multi-Domain Enabled Alliance, Deterrence and Defence, and Better Understanding. Click here for more detailed information on the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.