By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 18, 2009 - U.S. and NATO representatives are gathered in Rome brainstorming for solutions to make their security elements work better together, officials said today. Security experts participating in Concept Development and Experimentation Conference workshops are pondering U.S.-NATO interoperability issues such as countering hybrid threats, security force assistance, strategic communications and deterring nonstate actors, said Navy Rear Adm. Dan W. Davenport, chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command's joint concept development and experimentation directorate.
The annual conference began Nov. 16 and ends tomorrow.
One insight that surfaced at the conference is "the need to embed strategic communications in every aspect of operations and making that a part of the planning and execution of the operations themselves," Davenport said.
Conference participants also ponder "the complexity and the uncertainty of the future environment," Davenport said.
For example, he said, security experts believe that some small, nonstate actors may one day possess large, conventional military capabilities. U.S. and NATO military forces "must be prepared to be able to deal with the full range of operations and the full range of capabilities that we face," Davenport said, as well as possess the ability to operate in several potential threat environments.
Some security experts also predict that future potential enemies, both nonstate actors and possibly nation states, will turn to a mix of asymmetrical and conventional threats, known as hybrid warfare, to confront the prodigious military power of the United States and its allies.
The world has witnessed hybrid-type warfare before, noted French navy Rear Adm. Christian Canova, deputy assistant chief of staff for future abilities, research and technology at Allied Command Transformation, a NATO command collocated with Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.
The British in Northern Ireland, the French in Algeria and the United States in Vietnam, Canova explained, all fought opposing forces that employed a mix of guerrilla and conventional warfare during the 20th century. Yet, although hybrid warfare is not new, he added, not all of NATO's 28 member nations have experience confronting such a threat.
NATO's challenge is to have a common understanding of hybrid warfare among its 28 members, Canova said.