Story by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Patton
NAPLES, Italy – With the official opening of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub a month away, the deputy commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Canadian Army Lieutenant-General Christian Juneau, is optimistic about the new center’s future.
The NSD-S Hub, located at the headquarters of JFC Naples, is designed to focus on a variety of complex issues existing and emerging from southern regions such as the Middle East, North Africa and Sahel, sub-Saharan Africa and nearby areas, waters and airspace.
"The security environment in the whole area is extremely complex, and because it’s so important globally, especially to the NATO countries, there’s a lot of effort, activities and analysis that is going on, a lot of information that’s gathered,” Juneau said.
One of the Hub’s goals is to take this information and analysis that exists and transform it into knowledge and information even more useful to stakeholders.
"The Hub, at the end of the day, will be an enabler for unity of understanding and knowledge, and, hopefully, unity of action,” Juneau said.
Officials say another role of the Hub is to team up with personnel from various agencies outside of NATO and national military structures to synchronize, coordinate and enable. These include actors with a variety of backgrounds such as regional development and crisis handling experts, academics and non-governmental organizations.
Juneau said militaries have already shown a capacity to work with partners from other organizations on many operations around the world.
"These non-NATO entities have so much knowledge and understanding, and they look at an area, a problem set, from a whole different perspective,” Juneau said.
According to Juneau, a key early indicator of success for the Hub will be leveraging existing contacts and creating new linkups to foster an early "buy-in” to the new center. He also stressed the importance of producing early outputs to showcase to others that the Hub is worth their investment in talent, expertise and effort.
While it’s important to know what the Hub has the potential to do, it’s just as important, Juneau said, to emphasize what it’s not set up to be.
"It’s not an intelligence fusion center that is focusing solely on violent extremist organizations,” said Juneau. "When you say Hub and you put it in an operational headquarters, a lot of people from the get go will think that it’s focused on intelligence, and it’s not.”
The Hub’s aim is to focus on a variety of issues such as destabilization, migration, extremist organizations, trafficking, natural disasters and environmental pollution. Juneau also said the Hub will have no real command and control authority to direct actions of any of the stakeholders that will be part of the NSD-S Hub team.
"The Hub is not there to tell them what to do,” said Juneau. "It is an enabler that, hopefully, will foster understanding and cooperation.”
Juneau said it’s ideal that the new center will be under the roof and lead of JFC Naples.
According to Juneau, the Hub needs to be nested within an organization that has an operational focus over a wide area, and JFC Naples fits that bill. He also noted the expertise, connectivity, and the tools that are inherent with being a joint force command headquarters.
The Canadian general also noted that JFC Naples is already engaged in the part of the world the Hub focuses on, citing the ongoing NATO training mission and capacity building in Iraq. Finally, he said it’s also a matter of simple geography.
As the Hub opens in September, about 90 military and civilian personnel will man the center. Juneau is confident the team is on the right path as they continue to make preparations and coordinate with agencies.
"They will make sure that we reach final operating capability at the end of this calendar year,” Juneau said.
More articles about NATO Strategic Direction South Hub are available here: