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Collective defence

30.11.2020 - Artikel

Collective defence is the core task of the North Atlantic Alliance.

Since the end of the Second World War, NATO has been one of the key guarantors of security on the European continent. The transatlantic alliance remains indispensable for the security of Germany and Europe.

NATO is an alliance for collective defence. In the event of an armed attack, Germany can rely on support from its fellow allies in Europe and North America. Conversely, all NATO members can rest assured that Germany will assist them should they come under armed attack.

Considering that violence and the threat of force have returned to Europe, effective collective defence is absolutely crucial. The illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine by Russia make plain that security cannot be taken for granted. New risks also keep emanating from regions marked by conflict in NATO’s southern neighbourhood. The global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the rearmament of many countries are creating new threat scenarios.

In response, NATO remains primarily focused on deterrence to prevent the use of military force in the Euro-Atlantic area. For this, the Alliance is developing a well-balanced, wide range of nuclear and conventional assets that include a ballistic missile defence capability.

Allied solidarity can take different forms. In the history of the Alliance, Article 5 was invoked only once, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. In practical terms, Allied solidarity means that Allies support each other and defend one another against armed attack. 

One example is the assurance measures that were implemented in the eastern part of Alliance territory. These were agreed at the NATO Summits in Wales in 2014 and in Warsaw in 2016 in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine by Russia. They include the enhanced forward presence, on a rotational basis, of multinational formations in the three Baltic states and in Poland. In 2017, Germany became lead nation of an international battalion in Lithuania and thus together with its partners sent a strong signal of Allied solidarity. Other measures include enhanced air policing in the Baltic region, which Germany participates in on a regular basis, as well as joint exercises. To enable NATO to perform a broader range of tasks, further adaptation measures were agreed at the Alliance’s 2018 summit. These involve, among other things, a reform of the NATO command structure and the establishment of two new commands (including a Joint Support and Enabling Command, or JSEC) and enhancing readiness of Allied forces through a NATO Readiness Initiative. All of these measures are defensive in nature, proportionate, and do not violate any of NATO’s international obligations.

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