By Viesturs Berzins, this essay won second place in the Atlantic Forum x Stability Policing COE Essay Competition.
Throughout history, there have been countless instances of a state collapsing or losing control (Judah 1997). This can occur because of several reasons like a civil war, transnational conflict, or a coup of some sort. When such a situation arises, it not only endangers the ones responsible for this unrest, but also innocent civilians that want no part in the ongoing conflict. At such times, the civil police oftentimes lack the capabilities to deal with a crime like they usually would, as their primary goal is to ensure the safety of civilians.
When mass looting or vandalism becomes too big of a problem for the civil police to handle, the military is requested to assist. Yet in the state of active conflict, the military is also preoccupied with other responsibilities, thus it is not unusual for this kind of criminal activity to remain undealt with (Neaves 2020). At times like these, it could be beneficial for an outside interference to occur. If NATO forces are present at the conflict, they could provide assistance with civil policing, even though not all are trained to perform civil policing activities, thus a special task force specifically trained for this purpose can be used. Joseph Nye has famously stated that using tanks in a swamp is not an option, which can be compared to asking non-specialized soldiers to become policemen. (Nye 2009). This is when NATO Stability Policing takes place. Stability Policing should be performed by military personnel that have been trained to perform civil police duties. Although there are instances when Military Police can also assist with Stability Policing, there is a strict line between Military Policing and Stability Policing, thus when they are performing the second one, they are required to perform civil police activities.
The world is changing, and states are facing completely different threats than 100 or even just 20 years ago. With Hybrid warfare emerging, NATO must be ready to take action if international security is endangered. Although the primary purpose of NATO is to protect alliance members, if an ongoing conflict is threatening the integrity of the alliance outside of its borders, NATO might be required to act in countries that are currently not part of the alliance as well. States like Georgia or Ukraine are currently not members of NATO, yet they are the ones facing the modern hybrid warfare threats the most. (Gvineria 2021). This implies that in the possible case of a conflict occurring outside of the borders of the alliance, NATO might be forced to deploy a Stability Policing mission outside of its frontier. Hybrid threats pose a completely new array of possible perils, thus NATO must continue evolving together with their Centres of Excellence, including the Stability Policing CoE to be able to respond to any and all threats that directly endanger international security.
1. Tim Judah. (1997). The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. Yale University Press, pp.250-257
2. Julien Neaves. (2020). Businesses decimated during attempted coup: What they didn’t loot, they burned. Newsday. Available at: https://newsday.co.tt/2020/07/28/businesses-decimated-during-attempted-c.... [Last accessed April 4th, 2021].
3. Joseph S. Nye. (2009). Understanding International Conflicts. 7. ed. New York: Pearson, pp. 61-62.
4. Shota Gvineria. (2021). Russia Wages Hybrid Warfare and Increases Its Influence in Polarised Georgia. International Centre for Defence and Security. ICDS. Available at: https://icds.ee/en/russia-wages-hybrid-warfare-and-increases-its-influen... [Last accessed April 5th, 2021].