NATO Defense College, Rome – Admiral Michelle Howard, commander Allied Joint Force Command Naples addressed NATO military officers about the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub in a graduation ceremony speech here today.
In her speech, Howard noted a dramatically changing and accelerating security environment. She also stressed that NATO as an institution has succeeded over decades based upon its ability to adapt.
"As the threats to our security have increased in complexity and ambiguity since the fall of the Berlin Wall, so too has NATO adapted,” Howard said. "We began working with partners outside the Alliance, building up their capacity and capabilities with the goal that the overall environment would be improved.”
While current ongoing NATO operations remain, such as Resolute Support in Afghanistan and maintaining a safe and secure environment in the Balkans, NATO faces persistent terrorism, increasing cyber security threats and the evolution of hybrid warfare.
"In response to the challenges of the South, the Alliance has decided to build an information exchange organization or Hub,” Howard said. "The Hub is part of the NATO Strategic Direction South and will initially focus on five countries – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Jordan due to their strategic importance to peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa.”
NATO Strategic Direction South includes the whole of North Africa, the Sahel and the Middle East.
"The Hub will collect information from varied sources and collate and analyze the information and then share it with those that participate,” Howard said. "As I see it, the Hub will function in an Article 2 capacity for JFC Naples focused on understanding the region, strengthening institutions, and promoting conditions of stability and well-being across the South.”
The Hub’s functions will include:
•Function 1 – Contribution to information collection, management and sharing
•Function 2 – Contribution to understanding, monitoring and assessment
•Function 3 – Contribute to coordination of NATO’s activity in the South
•Function 4 – Contribute to implementation/assessment of the Framework for the South
"Ideally we will all be able to add and extract value from the information we will take in and analyze in Naples to gain a better understanding of the complex political, economic, social and military challenges on our Southern Flank.”
Admiral Howard also serves as commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
More information about the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub along with its initial and full operating capability milestones will be available in coming weeks.
The mission of the NATO Defense College is to contribute to the effectiveness and cohesion of the Alliance by developing its role as a major center of education, outreach and research on transatlantic security issues. It also fosters forward and creative strategic thinking on the key issues facing the Alliance.