Behind closed doors NATO generals continue to fine tune the ‘executability’ of regional war-fighting plans

The 2023 NATO Military Committee Conference  took place on 16-17 September in Oslo, Norway, with representatives from member countries (the Chiefs of Defence) gathering to take forward the decisions taken at the Vilnius Summit in July 2023. In Vilnius, NATO leaders approved a ‘family’ of Regional Plans – geographically specific plans covering the Atlantic and European Arctic, the Baltic region and central Europe, and the Mediterranean and Black Sea – that are designed to deter and defend against the two threats described in the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept and the NATO Military Strategy: Russia and terrorist groups.

Although the Strategic Concept has been published by NATO, the Military Strategy and Regional Plans remain classified. With NATO looming ever larger as a major actor in global affairs, the lack of transparency that characterises these long-range military planning processes poses a serious challenge to democratic oversight. Once again, key takeaways from the conversations by the generals in Oslo were shrouded in secrecy. None of the sessions were open to the public or media, and few details were made publicly available. The Chiefs of Defence addressed how to make the Regional Plans “fully executable”, including with:

  • More troops on higher readiness;
  • Capability building and development;
  • Adaptation of NATO's command and control structures;
  • More enablement (logistics, host nation support, maintenance, replenishment and prepositioning of stocks, military mobility); and
  • More collective defence training and exercising.

Proper parliamentary scrutiny is needed to ensure that the decision-making processes are clear, that the people taking decisions are held accountable for those decisions and to ensure that there are opportunities for national parliaments to influence and improve the plans.

Read more in the attached pdf.