Part of Transatlantic Security

Europe and its institutions: NATO and the EU

The Transatlantic Security Program explores and analyzes the relationship between the United States and Europe with a focus on mutual security. From determining how the NATO alliance should address 21st-century threats to examining the future of the European Union, the program aims to craft new and innovative ways for the United States to work closely with its European Allies to ensure the continued strength of the transatlantic relationship. Drawing on the knowledge and real-world experience of its team and associated adjuncts, along with its network of public and private sectors partners, the program provides policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic with concrete ideas and recommendations.

One of the program’s signature projects is its annual table top exercise that grants senior policymakers the opportunity to test their assumptions about a particular region or threat in real time. In February 2016, the program conducted the tabletop exercise Assured Resolve, which divided 50 high-level experts and former government officials from both sides of the Atlantic into teams and asked them to respond to three scenarios in the Nordic-Baltic region. The exercise and its findings are discussed in detail in the report “Assured Resolve: Testing Possible Challenges to Baltic Security.” The exercise elevated the discussion on Baltic security, with the program leads briefing the report to the NATO Secretary General, the U.S. Department of Defense, National Security Council, State Department, Capitol Hill, as well as high-level government officials at the European Union, Lithuania, and Latvia.

More recently, in February 2017, CNAS conducted a similar tabletop exercise, Forgotten Waters, which focused on the Greenland, Iceland, UK (GIUK) Gap. This time, the exercise brought together almost 70 experts from across the Atlantic, and during the two-day exercise participants faced dilemmas and questions as they were asked to respond to three separate scenarios in the North Atlantic. The findings highlighted the need for NATO, Europe, and the United States to revamp their cooperative maritime strategy, improve communication lines, and re-invest in maritime assets, specifically anti-submarine warfare. These conclusions will be discussed in the forthcoming report “Forgotten Waters: Minding the GIUK Gap,” which will be briefed to high-level government officials both in the United States and Europe. 

In addition to conducting tabletop exercises, the program undertakes in-depth research on various topics related to Europe and its institutions. It explores transatlantic cooperation in Eurasia, East Asia, and the Middle East, and studies constructive ways for the United States and Europe to work together in different regions. With a primary focus on transatlantic security, the program also places heavy emphasis on analyzing and providing recommendations on how the NATO alliance can successfully adapt to face 21st-century challenges. Going forward, the Transatlantic Security Program will continue to convene high-level events and publish in-depth research reports focused on maintaining and improving European institutions in order to shape policy debates on both sides of the Atlantic.

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