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The Madrid NATO Summit - A triumph of style over substance?

In this opinion piece, Sean Corbett, founder of and CEO of IntSight Global and Chairman of Janes National Security Advisory Board, reflects on the recent NATO Summit

As NATOs leaders reflect on the recent NATO Summit in Madrid, it will be no doubt with a sense of ‘job well done’.  Mainstream media, initially at least, have largely been lauding the event as a transformational event for the Alliance and has faithfully repeated the carefully constructed headlines emanating from a highly polished NATO PR machine.  And up to a point they are right.  For example, the agreed accession of Sweden and Finland is highly significant.  In addition to the obvious political message to Russia (whatever the concessions negotiated by Turkey), both will bring real military capability and credibility and are already well integrated and interoperable with many NATO forces, having been active and value-added partners in NATO led operations over an extended period.  The re- establishment of meaningful numbers of permanently based US forces onto mainland Europe (a combat brigade to Romania) and the UK (2 squadrons of F-35 combat aircraft) is another headline, which will do much both to rebuild trans-Atlantic trust and will undoubtedly make Putin look twice, as will the eye-catching establishment of a forward headquarters in Poland.  The new Strategic Concept, updated for the first time since 2010, when it did not even identify Russia as a security threat, now more realistically sets out the contemporary security environment faced by NATO and gives more than a nod to China as a ‘challenge to our interests, security and values’.  Those words must have been hard won in the context of some European nations previously in denial of China as a threat.   

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