NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO’s Strategic Vision: Adapting for the Future through NATO Allied Command Transformation’s Initiatives

November 28, 2023

LONDON, England. The Strategic Foresight Branch from NATO Allied Command Transformation opened the Future Operating Environment Workshop in London, England, today. This event provides an opportunity to introduce the research from the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023 to the foresight and analysis community within the Alliance – approximately 120 subject matter experts from allied and partner nations, with various backgrounds in military and academia.

NATO’s evolution and preparedness for future challenges rest upon the innovative strategies spearheaded by NATO’s strategic warfare development command, Allied Command Transformation. Tasked with steering the Alliance’s modernization and development, the Command’s role is pivotal in shaping NATO’s strategic policies and conceptual frameworks. Central to this effort is the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, which sets a 20-year vision for the Alliance.

The NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept serves as a roadmap, driving NATO’s endeavours to innovate, adapt, and strengthen its forces, capabilities, and plans. It contributes to the Alliance’s efforts to reinforce its deterrence and defence posture and offers a vision in support of maintaining and further developing NATO’s decisive military advantage by continuously adapting the military instrument of power.

Defining what the operating environments of the future will look like is a key outcome of Allied Command Transformation’s Strategic Foresight work; an activity that is accomplished in close collaboration with allies to ensure a fully realized picture is generated. The future operating environment provides the conditions to which NATO needs to adapt the military instrument of power.

Within the context of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023, which will be published in December 2023, serves as a crucial update and extension of its predecessor, the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2017. The investigation delves deep into the evolving security environment, evaluating what major factors and implications are driving change. The document itself demonstrates the desire of General Lavigne, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, to foster an Alliance-wide concept of the future. To bring this to fruition, Allied Command Transformation will continue collaborative research, scenario development, assessments, and modelling & simulations. Additionally, the Command’s Strategic Foresight efforts not only inform the NATO Defence Planning Process but also support the NATO enterprise, as well as Allied and Partner nations with methodology, expertise and analysis.

The “Future Operating Environment Workshop” aims to introduce the findings of the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023 to the broader Allied foresight and analysis community, encouraging a collective approach to understanding future challenges. The Chief of Staff of Allied Command Transformation, Vice Admiral Guy Robinson, opened the gathering by directing that over the “next two days, our objective is to anticipate the conditions, circumstances and influences that affect our warfighters in the future.”

This Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023 lays a robust foundation for another major product: the Future Operating Environment Study 2024, the mission of which is to scrutinize the shifting characteristics of actors, the battlespace, and modern warfare.  Future Operating Environment 2024 will build upon the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023 findings by:

  • Advising on the evolving strategies and capabilities of strategic competitors
  • Assessing the attributes of the changing operational domains and effect dimensions
  • Analysing the unique characteristics of future competition and confrontation

By synchronizing insights from the Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023, the Future Operating Environment 2024 report will aim to paint a comprehensive picture, enabling NATO to anticipate, adapt, and effectively navigate the complexities of tomorrow’s security landscape.

The initiatives led by Allied Command Transformation, and guided by their NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, underscore NATO’s commitment to proactive transformation. In an ever-evolving security environment, these practical measures ensure NATO remains agile, adaptable, and equipped to face emerging challenges head-on, ensuring the collective defence of its member nations.