NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

The Alliance’s Warfare Development Agenda: Achieving a 20-year Transformation

March 29, 2022

The Alliance’s Warfare Development Agenda: Achieving a 20-year Transformation

NATO faces persistent competition from multiple actors across multiple domains. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine underscores this fact. The Alliance’s Warfare Development Agenda is a planning tool to implement the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, a North Star vision for NATO’s future Military Instrument of Power that includes multi-domain operations, resilience, cognitive work and much more.

The lines between peace and war, political and military, strategic and tactical, physical and non-physical are blurring. NATO must have the right Military Instrument of Power available at the right time to defeat any and all potential adversaries.

A key feature and framework of NATO’s continuous military adaptation and transformation is the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. Endorsed by Heads of State and governments in 2021, the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept is an ambitious “North Star” detailing how NATO and NATO allies must develop their military instruments of power to maintain the advantage for the next twenty years. The concept is adversary-centric but proactively driven by NATO’s requirements for success.

To achieve the ambitious goals of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, Allied Command Transformation is managing the Alliance Warfare Development Agenda.

Last month Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne, introduced the Alliance’s Warfare Development Agenda for the consideration of NATO’s Military Committee and the North Atlantic Council. The Warfare Development Agenda is a first of its kind document for NATO. It is a threat informed, risk and opportunity-based framework aligning the warfare development activities of NATO and Nations; it is the culmination of conceptual and planning work across the entirety of the Alliance. It is an instrument that will uphold NATO’s Military Strategic Objectives by getting ahead of potential adversaries. An instrument that can out-think, out-excel, out-fight, out-pace, out-partner, and out-last potential adversaries or threats. It is the beginning of a long journey to develop the Alliance’s Military Instrument of Power.

The Warfare Development Agenda offers a framework to organise the Alliance and Allies’ warfare development activities around five imperatives: Cognitive Superiority, Layered Resilience, Influence and Power Projection, Cross-domain Command, and Integrated Multi-Domain Defence. Measured improvements in these imperatives will deliver the outcomes necessary for the Alliance’s success.

The Warfare Development Agenda focuses implementation work on several lines of delivery to advance the imperatives. Called Jump Starters, they are predominantly about better Alliance understanding of the operating environment and Chiefs of Defence Priorities, which are mainly about improving the connectivity and ability of the Alliance Military Instrument of Power to conduct multi-domain operations. The Warfare Development Agenda also connects critical enablers (data, technology advantage, agility, the right people with the right skills, persistent preparation, and day-zero integration) to the imperatives. Critical enablers are cross-cutting warfare development efforts that are essential for enduring success.

While maintaining a twenty-year NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept perspective, the Warfare Development Agenda will be executed in five-year planning increments. Allied Command Transformation will manage the Warfare Development Agenda under the Military Committee’s control and the Council’s oversight.

Allies are already contributing to the Lines of Delivery in various ways for collective Alliance benefit. When endorsed by the Military Committee in the coming weeks, the Warfare Development Agenda enables NATO to prepare today so that we can win decisively, as a team, into the future.