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Increasing Complexity and Uncertainty: Future Challenges to NATO and the West. By Admiral Manfred Nielson

To stay relevant as a military alliance for the foreseeable future, it is essential to adapt. As the international security architecture continues to change, it affects NATO too, the world’s largest military alliance. Plus there is the development and spread of much-discussed disruptive technologies, many of which are available not only to state actors, as well as the increasing pluralization of societies.

Citing these and several other future trends, Admiral Manfred Nielson, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and the highest-ranking admiral in the German armed forces, describes the conceptual considerations of the NATO Strategic Future Analysis (SFA) 2017. The alliance’s military plans are based on this document. It discusses future security policy challenges and opportunities, and also clearly identifies likely ethical problems. Following on from this, the next step is to draw up various scenarios from the future trends, and work out their implications for military policy.

SFA 2017 incorporates the futures research of all 29 member countries. This lends it particular weight, especially since the national security doctrines of the individual member countries are in turn derived from it. It was also produced in close consultation with the European Union. Despite receiving little public attention, SFA 2017 is the central document setting out the future of security policy in the global West. In his essay, Admiral Nielson accurately summarizes its essence.

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