Comment by Karl Eikenberry on "Keeping NATO Relevant"

Jamie Shea's essay "Keeping NATO Relevant" appearing in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace April 2012 edition of Policy Outlook offers a comprehensive, thoughtful, and - given the 20-21 May NATO Summit in Chicago - timely discussion of the Alliance's future.

Shea, currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, is one of the most experienced and articulate senior officials assigned to the NATO International Staff.

During my own posting to NATO Headquarters in Brussels from 2007 to 2009, I was consistently impressed with Shea’s ability to make clear the Alliance’s strategic vulnerabilities and opportunities.  He has done this in spades in “Keeping NATO Relevant.” 

As the NATO mission in Afghanistan transitions from one of large scale combat to that of limited training assistance, Alliance leaders must look to the future and better define the organization's purpose.  The author identifies and covers the relevant issues well - threat assessment, tasks, required capabilities, degree of reliance on the United States, and the role of partnerships between NATO and other countries.

A fiscally constrained United States will need to rely on its alliance partners even more in the post- Iraq and Afghanistan era.  Foremost among these alliances is NATO.  I commend Jamie Shea's article to those interested in better understanding its limitations and potential.

Karl Eikenberry is the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Institute Payne Distinguished Lecturer and research affiliate at The European Center .  He was the Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2007 to 2009.