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Activity title

Strategic Environment Assessment

Activity Reference



System Analysis and Studies

Security Classification




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Emerging Security Challenges, Security Environment, Strategic Environment, Strategic Situational Awareness, Threat Assessment


The current strategic environment is characterized by an unprecedented uncertainty and a broad range of simultaneous threats some of which cannot be deterred or retaliated. This development has been reflected e.g. by the creation of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and Emerging Security Challenges Division (EMSC) in the Alliance to address these challenges using a holistic and global approach. Despite the need to constantly assess the nature and evolution of the emerging challenges for effective defence policy formulation and strategic defence management, no adequate theoretical framework and best practices for the analysis have been developed, yet. Strategic environment including threats assessment still strongly lags behind risk assessment and futures analysis in the state-of-the-art methodology. Moreover, several scholars criticize that there has been too much focus on threatening actors and their capabilities (actor-based approach) while the security environment serves as a self-evident concept and offers also opportunities for effective strategic defence management. Frequently, the assessment is limited to mere identification of the threats without understanding their interconnections. Few attempts have been taken to remedy these gaps such as the systemic theory of the security environment. A comprehensive framework for the assessment both security challenges and opportunities still need to be developed.


The aim of the research task group is to develop a code of best practice on the strategic environment assessment that would overcome the pitfalls of the conventional approach. A theoretical framework for analysis will be designed that could be of use both for members states individually and for different groups within the Alliance expert community, e.g. ACT. Different perspectives and methodological frameworks towards rigorous strategic environment assessment among NATO nations will be tracked prior the development of theoretical framework and identification of best practices. The endeavour would also support a shared dialogue and understanding of the security challenges the Alliance faces and opportunities it could exploit in the global view and thus increase its joint strategic situational awareness.


• Review of academic literature on the strategic environment including threat assessment to identify existing pitfalls and best practice or novel approaches; • Case studies of strategic environment analyses in different NATO member states; • Development of a theoretical framework for the strategic environment assessment that would best reflect evolving reality and foster shared assessments within the Alliance.

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