Transatlantic Perspectives on Defense Innovation: Issues for Congress Page: 4 of 30
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NATO Defense Innovation: Transatlantic Perspectives and Issues for Congress
The year 2014 was pivotal for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, or the alliance).
Russia's annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine, and instability in Europe's southern
neighborhood sparked recognition of NATO's need to adapt to a changing security environment.
NATO shifted its focus from what had been a global security orientation during the post-Cold
War period toward a renewed focus on defense and deterrence in Europe.' Since 2014, NATO has
sought to ensure that it has the political and military tools needed to remain an "unparalleled
community of freedom, peace, security and shared values" in this new environment.
Several factors are driving NATO's desire to adapt. Among them is the challenge of protecting
NATO's military technological superiority over its potential adversaries, and staying ahead of
political and technological change. NATO faces both conventional and hybrid challenges,3 but
threats could expand to include new challenges related to the diffusion of technology, the
accelerating pace of technological change, or NATO's military and societal dependence on
commercial technologies. Operating domains have already expanded to include cyberspace, land,
sea, and air,4 and could soon include space.5 Policymakers from across the alliance, concerned
that NATO's technological edge is eroding across domains, have urged NATO to address the risks
and opportunities associated with technological change.6 In the future, NATO might have to rely
as much on its agility and capacity for innovation as it has previously relied on its military
This report provides analysis for Congress on how NATO is responding to the technology
landscape, and includes sections on
" the evolving threat environment and how NATO is affected by global trends in
defense spending and advancing technology;
" U.S. defense strategy and its increasing focus on strategic competition for
technological superiority and innovation;
" NATO's response, including institutional strategies as well as national responses
from Europe's top-three defense spenders (the UK, France, and Germany); and
" the opportunities and the challenges that NATO faces in fostering a NATO
capacity for innovation in light of technological change.
1 CRS Report R44550, NATO's Warsaw Summit: In Brief, by Paul Belkin.
2 NATO Warsaw Summit Communiqu6, July 9, 2016, point 2.
3 On hybrid challenges, see Bastian Geigerich, "Hybrid warfare and the changing character of conflict," Connections
QJ, vol. 15, no. 2 (2016), pp. 65-72.
4 NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, NATO Recognizes Cyberspace as a 'Domain of Operations'
at Warsaw Summit, Incyder news, Talinn, Estonia, July 21, 2016, https://ccdcoe.org/nato-recognises-cyberspace-
5 Julianne Smith, Jim Townsend, and Rachel Rizzo, NATO's 2018 summit: Key summit deliverables andfive initiatives
where the U.S. can make a difference, Center for a New American Security, March 30, 2018.
6 NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Military tech edge at risk, NATO member governments warned, News, Bucharest,
Romania, October 9, 2017, https://www.nato-pa.int/news/military-tech-edge-risk-nato-member-governments-warned.
See also Tomas Marino (General Rapporteur), Maintaining NATO's technology edge: Strategic adaptation and defense
research & development, NATO Parliamentary Assembly Science and Technology Committee, 080 STC 17 E, March
Congressional Research Service
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Aronsson, Lisa A. Transatlantic Perspectives on Defense Innovation: Issues for Congress, report, April 24, 2018; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1157107/m1/4/: accessed March 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.