Center for Strategic Decision Research

Lieutenant General Jurgen Bornemann

Lieutenant General Jürgen Bornemann
German Military Representative to NATO and the EU

Strategies for the New Challenges: Cyber Security
And Climate Change


Let me start by making some general points about the new challenges from a military point of view. I will then make some brief comments on the issues of cyber security and climate change. The concept of new challenges covers a wide range of topics that were not on the Alliance’s agenda back in the days of the Cold War. Issues like terrorism, piracy, cyber security, energy security, climate change, a comprehensive approach, and so on are all issues that are not exactly new—we have had a lot of experience with them over the last decades—but they are now topics on the agenda of the Military Committee and the Council in Brussels. This has led to the development of specific policies, concepts, and doctrines in both NATO and the European Union; the question of how to deal with these new threats and challenges from a security and defense point of view has increasingly become relevant for the two organizations. The NATO Secretary General’s speeches always cover new challenges whenever he speaks to the public and, no surprise, we have heard here that it is very likely that several of those new challenges and threats will be addressed specifically in the new Strategic Concept for NATO that is currently under development.

As has already been mentioned, Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk published in 2009 a document called “Multiple Futures,” about a project that aims to strengthen our understanding of the Alliance’s future threat environment through a rigorous analysis of emerging security challenges. The top military implications of all the trends and drivers were identified as follows:

First, protecting against asymmetric threats
Second, holding military operations against non-state actors
Third, protecting our C4 systems and networks
Fourth, preventing the disruption and flow of vital resources
Fifth and finally, enhancing civil-military cooperation
The 17 May report of the NATO Expert Group that is preparing the new Strategic Concept recommends among the four core tasks for NATO “to contribute to the broader security of the entire Euro-Atlantic region”—the second core task for NATO—and “to serve as a transatlantic means for security consultations and crisis management along the entire continuum of issues facing the Alliance”—the third core task for the Alliance, which includes protection against unconventional threats. Following the current discussion of new threats and challenges, I think there is now broad consensus within the Alliance and the international community that:
First, conventional military aggression against the Alliance or its members is unlikely but possible, and this possibility cannot be ignored. The most probable threats to Allies in the coming decade are unconventional, and it is unlikely that they will be military in nature. This danger has obvious implications for NATO’s preparedness, for the conception of what constitutes an Article 5 attack, its strategy for deterrence, its need for military transformation, its ability to make
decisions, and its reliance for help on countries and organizations outside the Alliance.
Second, it is easy to identify the threat and the challenge but it is difficult to identify the enemy.
And, finally, the role of the military to address new threats and challenges is most likely support rather than as a first responder or primary provider.

This leads to the conclusion that there is an unquestionable requirement to implement a truly Comprehensive Approach that puts together political, economic, administrative, and, indeed, military means although to a very different extent.


Let me now address two other major new threats, starting with cyber security. I will be very brief, because this topic has already been broadly discussed. Let me simply add to this discussion by answering the question, “What does defense against cyber attacks mean in practice?” Following the cyber attack on Estonia in the spring of 2007, NATO primarily addressed the protection of its own systems. NATO’s policy on cyber defense was approved in January 2008 and was endorsed by heads of state and government at the Bucharest summit. In line with this, the Cyber Defense Center of Excellence was set up in Estonia and the NATO Military Committee agreed on a cyber defense concept that adds practical action programs to fit within the overarching policy. These actions include the creation of a Cyber Defense Management Authority, which brings together the key actors in NATO’s cyber defense activities. This authority will manage cyber defense across all NATO communication and information systems and could support individual allies in defending against cyber attacks upon request.

Whether NATO in the future should play a more active role in cyber security and whether a cyber attack could or should not constitute an Article 5 scenario is still under discussion in Brussels. In this context, political guidance, and, I underline, a new consensus, is needed if there is a need to develop more offensive concepts including strategies and legal frameworks to deter, respond, or counter attacks. If there is a need, capability enhancement to detect, identify, locate, and engage cyber attacks would also be required. And all of this would require the awareness and sensitivity of our governments to the fact that cyber attacks could develop into real threats to our nations.


My second point focuses on the issue of climate change as a challenge for the Alliance. During NATO Expert Group discussions on possible responses to unconventional dangers, climate change was identified as an area in which NATO as an Alliance does not have a formal role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions as a source of global warming. NATO could, however, be called upon to help cope with security challenges that stem from the consequences of climate change, such as a melting polar ice cap or an increase in catastrophic storms or other national disasters. The Expert Group recommends therefore that the Alliance keep this possibility in mind when preparing for future contingencies. The 2004 tsunami in Asia and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan are examples of disaster situations to which the Alliance reacted at the request of the United Nations.

It is likely that the growing impact of climate change could lead to increased demand on our military forces. One example of this is the possible security aspects of environmental development in the High North, where climate change is not a fanciful idea but a reality that brings with it a certain number of challenges, including challenges for the Alliance. In January 2009, NATO organized, in close cooperation with the Icelandic government in Reykjavik, a seminar on possible security consequences of the melting polar ice cap. In his address, Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer concluded that, although the long-term implications are still unclear, what is clear is that the High North is going to require even more of the Alliance’s attention in the coming years. NATO’s role as part of a Comprehensive Approach, therefore, needs to include a better understanding of what is already happening and what is likely to happen in the future. In the case of the High North, the seminar has identified areas of possible challenges like navigation, including risks of potential accidents and ecological disasters, resources, and territorial claims. With increased human activity, the potential of search and rescue operation challenges will also rise.

In conclusion, climate change is not primarily an issue for NATO, but NATO should be aware of possible involvement, which means that our forces would to a certain degree also be involved.

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