As member nations gather to celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary this week, POLITICO asked experts to forecast what the military alliance will look like 10 years from now.
How should it spend its growing resources? What new technologies are needed to counter Russian aggression? What threats must NATO prepare for that are not being discussed today?
Countering China in a new age
Kenneth Weinstein is president and CEO of the Hudson Institute.
I think we’re entering a whole new stage. NATO has had massive needs to build up its deterrent capacity to face a new era of warfare that’s going to be radically different than what we’ve faced so far, with artificial intelligence, with cloud capacity, with big data, with the Internet of things, facing authoritarian nations that will themselves be increasing their capacities in these areas.
Part of the problem is, both China and Russia are bringing the battle against NATO home. As the security challenges rise, NATO’s opponents will continue to augment their game against alliance unity.
Turkey’s future in NATO I think is uncertain. Looking at the Balkans as well I think there will be the temptation to expand as Russia tries to expand its footprint there. [The alliance could expand to] Georgia and the Balkans. I think Ukraine, that’s liable to depend on political developments.
In terms of weapons purchases, we’re entering a whole new phase in the way one thinks about deterrence and cyber warfare. There will be an increase in purchases of drones, underwater unmanned vehicles, next-generation fighters, F-35s. It’s a big moment where the challenges are getting greater and NATO is certainly stepping up its capabilities.
In terms of speed, I think there’s a strong sense that [the member nations] need to get their act together. I think the French are leading the effort in pushing for a European defense capability within NATO designed to bolster the transatlantic alliance. They’re trying to make sure the defense industrial base in Europe doesn’t completely wither away. It’s a gigantic change, particularly at a time when Germany is just not in the game as it should be.
The strategic challenge of the future requires a level of creativity and engagement in developing technologies with a mindset that you need these technologies in place to deter, but you don’t necessarily need to use them.
It’s a critical time for the alliance and even more critical as these new technologies develop as the Chinese seem absolutely hell-bent on developing them and the Russians seem very intent on using their massive economic resources. We’re entering a whole new age.