NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Resilience and Civil Preparedness in NATO

April 5, 2023


NATO can only credibly deter adversaries and defend the Alliance’s population and territory if it is resilient.

A resilient Alliance is better placed to perform its three core functions in a contested strategic environment, including defending itself if necessary.

The principle of resilience is enshrined in Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, underpinning Alliance security:

“In order to more effectively achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

This principle echoes through the commitment of each NATO member nation as the national responsibility for robust military and civil preparedness that reduce Alliance-wide risk.

Resilience in a NATO context refers to the capacity, at national and collective level, to prepare for, resist, respond to, and quickly recover from strategic shocks and disruptions, across the full spectrum of threats. Simply put, it is the ability for the Allies individually, Alliance collectively and NATO as an organisation to face disruptions and shocks and continue their activities. Geostrategic and military power redistribution requires the ongoing transformation of the NATO Military Instrument of Power, as well as alignment of military and non-military capabilities throughout NATO member nations. Alliance’s resilience stems from a combination of civil preparedness and military capacity. In this context, civil preparedness directly contributes to NATO defence readiness – well maintained, fast healing, adaptive, durable, and ongoing military systems supported and enabled by civilian capabilities are needed to ensure security and stability throughout the Alliance.

In 2016, NATO members agreed on the seven Baseline Requirements of National Resilience, against which Allies can measure their level of preparedness. These baselines provide guidelines and evaluation criteria that enable Allied nations to conduct assessments of their resilience, aligned with the overarching NATO Defence Planning Process. In 2021, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed d a Strengthened Resilience Commitment, reinforcing the importance of national and collective resilience against the conventional, non-conventional and hybrid threats and activities of adversaries, and provided further direction and guidance for resilience-related work at NATO through the NATO 2030 agenda and later the 2022 Strategic Concept.

In NATO Headquarters, the Resilience Committee serves as the senior NATO advisory body delivering strategic and policy direction, planning guidance, and overseeing the coordination of NATO’s resilience activities. The Resilience Committee is supported by six specialized Planning Groups* comprised of Allied national subject matter expert representatives covering seven resilience baseline areas. The Resilience Committee also provides a crucial link to partner nations, international organisations, industry and other stakeholders.

Concurrently, Allied Command Transformation leads the military adaptation of the Alliance by operationalising the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. This includes the Layered Resilience Warfare Development Imperative and Allied Command Transformation is currently working on the Layered Resilience Concept, the NATO Military Resilience Risk Assessment and Lines of Delivery for Resilience in Training and Exercises. Allied Command Transformation’s work on Layered Resilience will inform the NATO Defence Planning Process and is also a crucial component of a Multi-Domain Operations enabled Alliance.

NATO is taking a comprehensive and coherent approach to Alliance resilience that aligns the work of the NATO Headquarters and Allied Command Transformation. This is essential to meet the strategic challenges of today and tomorrow.

* The Civil Protection Group; the Joint Health Group; the Energy Planning Group; the Civil Communications Planning Group; the Food and Water Planning Group and the Transport Group, with its modal formats of ocean shipping, inland surface transport and civil aviation.