NATO Defense Chiefs Build 360-Degree Defense on Maturing Framework, Dunford Says


The NATO Military Committee Meeting in Warsaw this past weekend was so productive because the alliance chiefs of defense were able to build on the three-year framework put in place, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford told reporters here today.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Military Committee was able to flesh out the NATO 360-degree approach to security matters.

Dunford, who came to the position three-years ago, said there was not the appreciation of the Russian challenge then, that there is today. “There was also not the appreciation for violent extremism and the risk of terrorism in everybody’s backyard as there is today,” he said.

Relevant Alliance

In 2015, the alliance began the debate on 360-degree security. “At that point, all the members of the alliance wanted to know if the alliance was relevant to the security challenges they confronted,” he said.

In the past three years, alliance heads of state have met twice – most recently at the Brussels summit in July. The political leaders affirmed the alliance will meet the 360-degree challenge. The alliance will defend against the threat posed by Russia and it will address the threats emanating from North Africa and the Middle East – primarily the risks of mass migration and acts of terror.

Political leaders also realized that alliance readiness levels were not where they needed to be, the chairman said. They affirmed that NATO needed to adapt both its command structure and capabilities in order to be relevant for the challenges faced today.

Three years ago, the alliance created enhanced forward presence to assure allies that NATO would act. That effort has matured and transformed into alliance deterrence, “and we need to project security to the South to mitigate the effects of violent extremism and terrorist acts,” Dunford said.

That political framework is in place now. As military leaders “we don’t have to debate what to do,” the general said.

The military leaders “have a very clear mandate” to adapt the NATO command structure. They also are working on the 4X30 readiness initiative that calls for 30 ships, 30 aircraft squadrons, 30 battalions of ground forces to be ready in 30 days. “So we have to figure how to implement that,” he said.

“Everyone has a different priority to the challenges we face, but we have cohesion in that the alliance is expected to address all 29 members security challenges whether that comes from the South or the East,” the general said. “It’s been the journey that we’ve been on in my three years as chairman.”

About Deterrence

The alliance is first and foremost about deterrence. Then, if deterrence fails, it is about collective defense. “That requires a diplomatic effort and capabilities that can convince an adversary … that the cost that will be imposed will be much higher than whatever gain they can achieve,” he said.

An effective deterrent posture is most important when confronting Russia. Deterrence is across the board. NATO must deter in the nuclear, conventional and cyber realms. They also must be ready for capabilities that fall below the threshold of armed conflict that would be by definition aggressive and provocative acts, Dunford said.

NATO adaptation, measures taken to enhance deterrence, the European Defense Initiative are “all clearly intended to send a message to Russia that there is an effective conventional deterrent and a collective defense of NATO,” he said. “All of the activity that we do – our exercises, our training, our force posture – is all designed to ensure that our deterrence is effective.”