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Annex w/ Annotated Bibliography

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In 2024, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates the 75th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. Over the past seven decades, RAND has been at the forefront of analytical efforts to rethink the issues, options, and trade-offs that the Alliance has confronted.

In this report, the authors examine several strands of RAND's most seminal analysis on the Alliance's core strategic challenges, as identified in a broader review of hundreds of reports and memorandums. Four key themes emerge from this significant body of research: the need to provide effective deterrence and defense, the evolving transatlantic bargain between the United States and Europe on sharing the burdens of defense, expansion of NATO membership, and adaptation of NATO's strategy and structures to meet changes in the security environment. Research shows that success in all four requires maintaining political cohesion and unity of purpose.

The authors highlight RAND's contributions to addressing some of the most critical questions that NATO has faced over the course of its existence, as well as specific research findings, insights, and recommendations that either remain relevant today or have become relevant again. They identify options for maintaining allied policy coordination and enhancing deterrence and defense in the face of threats posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and confrontational policies toward the West, strategic competition with China, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the persistence of global terrorism. The overall analysis underscores the Alliance's effectiveness in advancing the collective political and security interests of all its member states.

Key Findings

  • As NATO redoubles efforts to ensure the security and territorial integrity in light of Russia's war on Ukraine and the prospect of a wider, high-intensity conflict, RAND's past and present analyses underscore the centrality of reinforcing NATO's deterrence and defense posture. Improving force generation, readiness, firepower, and logistics and exploiting new technologies are vital in implementing NATO's deterrence and defense concept and require adequate resources and seamless integration of strategic, domain, and regional defense plans.
  • RAND research on the transatlantic bargain has consistently demonstrated the need for reciprocal commitment to collective defense on both sides of the Atlantic. It also illustrates the importance of candid consultations among allies on the evolving international environment and risk-sharing to ensure cohesion on the goals, means, costs, and benefits of collective NATO activities.
  • NATO's collective security guarantee remains the most reliable and effective way to ensure a member country's sovereignty and security. RAND's early research on NATO expansion suggests that allies would benefit from offering Ukraine clarity at the 2024 Washington Summit on the conditions for its future membership, in a manner consistent with the principles that guided earlier decisions on NATO enlargement.
  • RAND's analysis of NATO adaptation to a changing security environment, during and since the end of the Cold War, presents important lessons, particularly on the value of partnerships, for addressing threats from emerging and disruptive technologies and other complex challenges in the era of great-power competition, including the threats posed by China, to shared Alliance interests.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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