Defence Against Terrorism

The 11 Sep 01 attacks on the United States placed the fight against terrorism at the top of the international agenda, including that of NATO. As a result, the transformation process that characterised the first ten years after the end of the Cold War era took on a more coherent dimension and greater urgency. Today, the Alliance's response to the new security environment is based on a clear set of principles agreed upon by member governments. The Allies agree that they must be ready to help to deter, defend, disrupt and protect themselves collectively against terrorist attacks from abroad and that this may include taking action against terrorists and against those who harbour or protect them. They also agree that the Alliance should not be constrained by predetermined geographical limits: it must have the capacity to act as and where required. Similarly, it may need to provide its assets and capabilities, on a case-by-case basis, to assist with operations conducted by other international organisations or coalitions of countries involving NATO members.

Allied governments, in their individual and collective efforts to confront the growing threat posed by international terrorism directly have also launched Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. The operation, which includes the conduct of maritime patrolling, and when appropriate stopping and inspection of suspect maritime vessels, serves as a deterrent to terrorist activities in the maritime domain and provides the Alliance a notable military contribution to defence against terrorism.

After the 11 Sep 01, NATO's Defence Ministers tasked the NATO Military Authorities in 2002 to prepare a Military Concept for Defence Against Terrorism for approval by the North Atlantic Council in light of the agreed capabilities, functions, and tasks and in accordance with NATO's approved Operational Planning Process. MC 472 Military Concept for Defence Against Terrorism was approved by NAC on 27 Sep 02. It sets the framework for NATO's role in leading and supporting the full spectrum of operations for Defence Against Terrorism.