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Activity title

Strategic Environment Assessment: Framework for Analysis

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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 widespread uncertainty and a broad range of simultaneous threats. This development has been acknowledged 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 security challenges for effective defence policy formulation and strategic defence management, no adequate theoretical framework and best practices for the analysis of the strategic environment has 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. 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 inclusion of the systemic theory of the security environment. Specifically a comprehensive framework for the assessment of both security challenges and opportunities still need to be developed.


The aim of the research task group would be to develop a code of best practice on the strategic environment assessment.


• Review of academic literature on the strategic environment assessments; • Review of existing tools and methods and identification of appropriate ones; • Case studies of strategic environment analyses in different NATO and non-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; • Mixed methods approach including indicators and drivers; • Holistic and systemic approach; • Combining different timeframes; • Linkages between assessment and planning and decision making process; • Assessments tailored for purpose.

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