At the November 2010 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting in Lisbon, leaders of 28 nations gathered to chart the Alliance’s future course. They identified three essential tasks for the Alliance going forward: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.
They adopted a new strategic concept that laid out the Alliance’s defense doctrine and vision for the 21st century. This called for a NATO that is more agile, capable, and cost-effective and that is able to defend its members against the full range of threats. The new strategic concept is meant to guide the Alliance during the next 10 to 15 years as it restructures its forces according to new threat perceptions. The concept assesses that the greatest threats will come from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It also recognizes that proliferation will be most acute in some of the world’s most volatile regions. Based on this assessment, the concept foresees a significant increase in NATO’s deterrence capability. One of the main tenets of that ambition is to develop a ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability to pursue NATO’s core task of collective defense. The Lisbon declaration states, “We will . . . develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defense, which contributes to the indivisible security of the Alliance. BMD will be one element of a broader response to the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.”