On September 18, GMF's Young Transatlantic Network (YTN) and the U.S. Mission to NATO collaborated on a roundtable discussion with Ambassador Douglas E. Lute, permanent representative of the United States to NATO. The discussion focused on two fundamental themes. The first involved assessing NATO’s current operations, the challenges posed to NATO leadership by a rapidly evolving global security environment, the aftermath of the Wales Summit, and the commitments made by members of the Alliance to address these various challenges.
Ambassador Lute suggested that NATO was approaching a new phase that would require the Alliance to maintain an upper-hand on 21st century developments in international security while simultaneously continuing to address traditional challenges. It was stressed that NATO’s core mission within the international system remains to serve as a defense alliance that is able to deliver defense expertise and export security to weaker states through operational partnerships. New functional challenges such as cyber defense will require NATO to reflect on and review their modes of operation when faced with potential breaches in cyber security. The question of NATO involvement in Ukraine and the South East was also addressed. Emphasis was placed on the fact that NATO must play a supporting role in responding to the development of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, while providing targeted humanitarian and security assistance. In Ukraine, NATO must wield its political capital to reaffirm its member-states’ commitment to Article V, if faced with further violations from the Kremlin.
The second important theme of the discussion revolved around the role played by young leaders dedicated to the future of global security. Ambassador Lute stressed that it was important for young leaders to gain significant exposure to NATO and security affairs through relevant coursework, informational events and professional exposure to the intelligence sector, while also acknowledging the inherently unpredictable nature of the global security environment. Therefore, it is important for NextGen leaders to be both perceptive and highly adaptable to the unexpected. The roundtable gathered a diverse group of young professionals representing the YTN chapters in Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, and Washington, D.C., and concluded that NATO was entering the 4th phase of its existence, characterized by a preliminary focus on collective defense and the execution of the Readiness Action Plan outlined in Wales that would then be followed by an attempt to balance out its three core tasks of collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. #natogmf