NATO Intelligence and Information Sharing: Improving NATO Strategy for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations

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Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 16, Issue 4, p.5-34 (2017)


Current global conflict trends are pulling NATO away from its traditional collective defense mission into stability and reconstruction (S&R) operations with greater frequency. S&R environments require NATO to collaborate with and support host nation governments, international organizations, and a range of non-governmental organizations to address security, political, and social challenges. However, NATO encounters difficulty with collecting and sharing intelligence and information in these environments. This inability to communicate compounds the already complex issues faced by all entities involved. This paper identifies three policy options to help NATO improve its support to S&R operations by enhancing information-sharing mechanisms within NATO and with non-NATO stakeholders. These options are: 1) the completion of the Federated Mission Network that seeks to aggregate classified and unclassified information in a regulated virtual space; 2) the indoctrination of a Joint Information Fusion Cell to act as a physical clearinghouse for information; and 3) the development of Regional Coordination Centers and Stabilization and Reconstruction Teams to implement individual S&R projects. The progression of policy options represents increases in stakeholder engagement, operational effectiveness, and overall cost. Based on an analysis of the pros and cons associated with each option, we recommend the development of the Joint Information Fusion Cell (JIFC). This option offers a centralized facility capable of collecting, processing, and disseminating information and intelligence, and a separate, neutral facility for coordinating with non-military entities. This option confers the widest array of benefits to NATO’s contributions to S&R operations in both in-area and out-of-area environments.