DETER AND DEFEND : READINESS IS THE PATH TO PEACE
Gen . Guglielmo Luigi Miglietta Commander , Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum
The Roman historian Vegetius once said , “ Si vis pacem , para bellum ,” he who desires peace should prepare for war .
As an Italian who chose the military as his profession , these words from my Roman heritage have played a major role in my life . The philosophy is simple , and ageless . Even as children on the playground , bullies never picked on those who were clearly ready to fight . Instead , they targeted those who seemed unable to defend themselves . Military forces lived by this principle long before Vegetius made his famous quote in the 4th Century , and yet it remains equally valid today for the Allied military powers here in the Central European Theatre .
Military readiness as a guarantor of peace was also the common principle held by a dozen war-weary European and North American countries in 1949 , when they signed the North Atlantic Treaty to become an Alliance . Those signatories understood that peace equals stability , and stability provides opportunities for prosperity . They understood that the only way to guarantee both peace and prosperity for their nations was , continuously and collectively , to be prepared for war .
The words “ Deter and , if necessary , Defend ” have been central to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ’ s vocabulary since the beginning of its existence . NATO ’ s first Strategic Concept , in 1950 , established that the primary function of NATO was to deter aggression , and that NATO forces would only engage in hostilities if deterrence failed . The second Strategic Concept , developed in 1952 , added the notion of ‘ forward strategy ’ to support deterrence . At that time , forward strategy meant placing a military presence as far East as possible , in this case near the border between East and West Germany . The concept was intended to discourage any Communist expansionist ambitions toward the West .
For more than 70 years , the Deter and Defend strategy evolved , and proved to be very effective . Over the decades , the countries that comprise NATO have maintained peace and stability within their borders . The NATO Alliance has grown from 12 nations to 30 , soon to become 32 if all goes well . Those who joined NATO have collectively provided safety , security , commerce , democracy , and freedom to more than a billion citizens .
Recent events have shown us just how important , and fragile , safety and security can be . The brutal and unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has returned the long shadow of war to Europe . It has triggered a major re-evaluation of the threat to Euro-Atlantic security , and the way NATO needs to Deter and Defend .
In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine , and in order to bolster Alliance security , NATO immediately activated its defence plans , deployed elements of the NATO Response Force , and nations significantly increased NATO ’ s force presence on the Eastern Flank of the Alliance . At the June 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid , Alliance political leaders approved a new Strategic Concept designed to shape Western security posture for years to come . The new concept did many things – it recognised the Russian Federation as the most significant threat to Allied security , but also highlighted other threats : terrorism ; instability in the Middle East and Africa ; emerging disruptive technologies ; the erosion of arms control ; and climate change . Additionally , the Strategic Concept named China for the first time as a ‘ strategic competitor ’ to the Alliance .
The Madrid summit signalled a change for all of NATO-affiliated military units . The evolution of the Deter and Defend strategy has since sped up dramatically and , we in the Central European Theatre , are at the heart of its new focus areas .
Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine are not new ; after Russia ’ s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 , NATO
He who desires peace should prepare for war .
4 WINTER 2022-23 the imjin