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Collectively Ensuring Emergencies don’t Grow into Crises: NATO Experts

Due to today’s security environment being complex and uncertain, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supports the efforts made by allies to build resilience against a multitude of threats.

In a NATO Experts video, NATO Director, Defence Policy and Capabilities Directorate Sarah Tarry explained, “The more resilient we make ourselves, both individually and collectively, the better we can stop emergencies from growing into crises.”

While a broad term, Tarry addresses why resilience matters to NATO and what it means to be resilient in a Question and Answer in the NATO video below.

Whole-of-Society Effort

“From the Berlin airlift, right before NATO was established, to the over half a million military personnel from Allied nations who have supported civilian authorities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, resilience has always been central to our nations’ idea of peace and security. In a security environment that is increasingly complex and unpredictable, there is a greater need to prepare for threats and challenges before they occur. This can only be achieved through a whole-of-society effort,” she stated.

Tarry noted, “In a security environment that is increasingly complex and unpredictable, there is a greater need to prepare for threats and challenges before they occur. This can only be achieved through a whole-of-society effort.” Image from Operation AEGIS Afghan refugees who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport on August 24, 2021. Photo by: MCpl Genevieve Lapointe, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

Baseline Requirements

According to Tarry, at NATO’s Warsaw Summit in 2016, heads of state and government committed to enhancing resilience by pushing to put baseline requirements in place that would ensure continuity of government and essential services to the public:

    • energy supplies,
    • food and water resources,
    • transport and telecommunications, and
    • medical care.

Resiliency comes in many shapes and forms, and when it comes to NATO, Tarry explained that it means Allies can keep working in the middle of a set of different threats and risks like natural disasters, cyber-attacks, hybrid threats, and armed attacks because they have the resources, infrastructure, and systems needed to do so successfully.

She added for societies to be able to function in a crisis they must be able to:

    • ensure the continuity of government
    • the strength of critical civil infrastructure
    • the provision of essential services and
    • the ability for civil and military authorities to work together.

Tarry also noted that having baseline requirements would also “protect our populations and critical infrastructure, and to support military operations.” Presently, these baseline requirements fill an important role in setting the resilience standards that Allies should meet.

Sharing Experience & Expertise

Tarry informed, “Many NATO’s partners also make use of the baseline requirements to assess and evaluate their own level of resilience. Through NATO, Allies and partners share their experience and expertise to develop good practices and guidance that help them stay current, assess risks, learn lessons, develop plans and make investments.”

Together, Allies frequently look over the different obstacles and progress in hitting the baseline requirements and give guidance and direction on future efforts in this area. To strengthen the Alliance, resiliency is considered a key player in the NATO 2030 initiative.

Tarry noted that having baseline requirements would also “protect our populations and critical infrastructure, and to support military operations. Image from Operation REASSURANCE: ROTO 15 Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command, Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, receives a briefing from enhanced Forwards Presence Battle Group Latvia, Operations Officer Captain Simon Johnson, during a tour of Camp Adazi on June 29, 2021. Image by MCpl Stuart MacNeil, enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group – Latvia Imagery Technician, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

Working with Civil Sector

Tarry addressed the question: how NATO Allies work with the civil sector to ensure preparedness and resilience?

NATO Director, Defence Policy and Capabilities Directorate Sarah Tarry. Image courtesy of NATO.

She responded by explaining, “We live in open societies, dominated by integrated services and private ownership. Our governments and armed forces increasingly rely on the commercial sector, for example, with regard to military transport, military communications, and host nation support for military operations. For these reasons, civilian experts work together every day across the Alliance to make sure the things we need get where they need to be, and the systems, plans and supplies are in place or available.”

About Sarah Tarry

Tarry became the Head of the Operational Preparedness Section within the Operations Division of NATO’s International Staff in September 2016.

She has held various positions in the Canadian Ministry of Defence, including deputy director of peacekeeping policy and the deputy director of NATO policy.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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