Military Capabilities

Eyeing Russia, NATO ministers to consider new Atlantic and logistics commands

25 October 2017
US Army Europe over the past few years has again begun practising shipping heavy equipment to Europe and then deploying it across the region. Source: US Army/Markus Rauchenberger

NATO defence ministers during a quarterly meeting in November will consider establishing new commands to improve logistics in Europe and for better securing the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

NATO officials are increasingly worried that Russia could complicate the alliance’s movements at sea with submarine warfare, and that infrastructure and policy issues in Europe could complicate movements on land.

To this end, strategic commanders have created an ‘outline design’ for improving NATO’s command structure and force structure, Czech General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told reporters during a 25 October breakfast meeting in Washington, DC.

“This outline design was discussed first by [NATO] chiefs of defence and will be presented to the ministers of defence” at an upcoming meeting in Brussels scheduled for 8-9 November, Gen Pavel said in response to questions from Jane’s .

If a new structure is approved by ministers, NATO commanders will “start developing options for how to implement it, and then we get into the areas of resources and that is clearly a political issue”, he added. “A decision on the final design – the final option – is expected by February at the defence ministerial meeting in 2018.”

During the Cold War, NATO’s Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) and Allied Command Europe (ACE) served as the sea and land operational commands, but in 2002 these were broken up as the alliance reduced its command structures and focused on functionality over geography. Terrorism had become a more significant focus than Russia or the then-defunct Warsaw Pact.

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