1 July 2022

Cybersecurity Best Practices During War in Ukraine

Richard Pallardy

Marianne Bailey has borne witness to some of the most extraordinary cyberattacks of our lifetimes and offered guidance to the highest levels of government as they rushed to stem the bleeding. Her service as Deputy National Manager for National Security Systems (NSS) and Senior Cybersecurity Executive for the National Security Agency has given her unique insight into the ways that cyberattacks propagate and affect both public and private enterprise. She is now cybersecurity practice leader for Guidehouse.

Here, she talks to Richard Pallardy for InformationWeek about how companies can most effectively fortify their defenses, especially in light of the novel cyberwar occurring between Russia and Ukraine -- and Ukraine’s allies. She also offers detailed advice on how to renegotiate agreements with third-party providers, ensuring the highest possible level of response to an attack.

There has been a low-level cyber war going on for decades. At NSA or in the DoD, I've been in positions where I got to see a lot of them from a classified perspective. Cyber adversaries are very, very different depending on what they're after. There are a lot of things that happen that aren't brought out into the public eye. Ukraine just made it very visible for many more people. It made it very, very clear that if there was going to be some type of physical conflict like Ukraine, the country that is trying to dominate is going to use cyber warfare as a further tool. It shouldn't be surprising to anybody. But it always seems to be surprising, which really surprises me. Let's say I have the ability to cause major damage. I can do it from my own country. It's a pretty darn low cost of entry, and it's going to have a phenomenal impact. Why am I not going to use it? Cyber is now a weapon of war.

Last Best Hope The West’s Final Chance to Build a Better World Order

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine confirmed what has long been apparent: the rules-based order created after World War II is at risk of collapse. Russia is not content to be a responsible stakeholder in a system set up by others, and neither is China, which has supported Moscow’s aggression. Both countries want to remake the order to serve their autocratic interests. As U.S. President Joe Biden said in Warsaw in March, the West now faces “a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.”

History was not supposed to play out this way. In the heady days after the Cold War, the order appeared both unchallenged and unchallengeable. Washington believed that its unquestioned primacy allowed it to determine the future of other countries as well as its own. U.S. allies believed they had escaped the tragedy of great-power politics and had entered an era of self-enforcing rules. As time went on, however, habits of collaboration eroded, and the sense of common purpose faded. Rather than using the unique moment of U.S. dominance to deepen and strengthen the rules-based order, the West let that system wither.


Andrew Milburn

The battalion commander shrugged helplessly when we advised him that five days was a completely inadequate amount of time in which to train his soldiers. “This is all we have—they are needed on the front,” he replied with grim finality. A few days later, on a separate course that we were running for his medics, half of our class disappeared on the second day. “We have had casualties,” was the only explanation we received. Even in units that fall within the Ukrainian special operations command, most soldiers are sent to the front line with very little training. In one such unit, we estimated that just 20 percent had even fired a weapon before heading to combat.

On May 3, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that allows territorial defense units—the country’s home guard—to be deployed to combat outside their home regions. These units are manned by local volunteers who typically have received very little preparation. We were soon swamped by requests for training courses. In the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a town hall meeting to explain the new policy to local territorial defense volunteers was disrupted by wives alarmed at the prospect of their part-time soldier husbands deploying to the front.

Each anecdote by itself a data point, but together they tell a story that belies the relentless optimism that has pervaded Ukrainian representation of the war from the outset. After four months of grinding attrition, the Ukrainian army is facing a manpower shortage.

Ukraine has the HIMARS and is putting them to use


Ukraine isn’t waiting to put its new weapons to the test. On Saturday the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shared a video showing troops firing the new M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which can launch multiple rockets. Ukraine claims that the weapons are hitting targets, “military targets of the enemy,” AKA Russian forces.

The two-minute video was shared with the caption “These weapons are in the good hands, dear Americans! To be continued.” It is, for reasons entirely unclear, set to the iconic theme music from “The X-Files.” The HIMARS, much like the truth, are out there.

Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov tweeted on June 23 that the HIMARS were in Ukraine, and apparently already in use, sharing a photo of the weapons system firing on a presumably enemy target.

Here is what foreign-policy experts are discussing ahead of the G7 meeting.

Erika Solomon

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, this year’s Group of 7 summit was supposed to provide an opportunity to change gears from typical geopolitics and finance, and focus on the future. The top themes were meant to be climate, public health amid the coronavirus pandemic and equity around the globe.

Instead, most analysts expect that the conference will be “Ukraine, Ukraine and then some more Ukraine,” as Sudha David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund, a public policy think tank, put it.

The war has also changed the major topics that observers hope to see addressed. Here are some of the top questions from foreign policy experts in Germany and elsewhere.

Zelenskyy tells G-7 summit Ukraine forces face urgent moment


ELMAU, Germany (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday underscored the urgency of helping his country’s military improve its position against Russia in a video meeting with leading economic powers, who in turn pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

Zelenskyy addressed the delicacy of the moment for Ukraine in its war with Russia to the Group of Seven summit as the leaders of the major economies prepared to unveil plans to pursue a price cap on Russian oil, raise tariffs on Russian goods and impose other new sanctions.

In addition, the U.S. was preparing to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Kyiv to help Ukraine fight back against Vladimir Putin’s aggression. The official announcement would come shortly after Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for the first time in weeks and as the Russian military has continued a full-on assault on the last remaining Ukrainian redoubt in the Luhansk province in order to take control of the eastern Donbas region.

Amid deepening divisions, US no longer seen as beacon of light around the world


People care about their image, how others perceive them. So do nations.

Every nation extends its values and interests onto the world stage, generating public opinion. How citizens and governments respond to a nation (positively or negatively) can impact that nation’s power and influence, both real and perceived. That, in turn, affects policy and people — how we live within the global community. In short, what others think of you matters.

Into that complex public opinion vortex comes a new report from Pew Research Center, which has been measuring international attitudes for decades. The findings of this new Pew survey on international perceptions of the United States, Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) include critical data for all of us, especially Americans.

Pew’s data were collected from February of this year through the third week of May — a critical window when things were changing across the globe.

US steps up airfield construction on Tinian


The US has initiated major construction on Tinian, ostensibly to serve as a backup facility should its naval and air facilities on nearby Guam be put out of action for any reason. Growing concerns about Guam’s vulnerability to a missile attack from China or North Korea may have prompted this significant construction effort.

Tinian and its sister islands Guam and Saipan were crucial US staging areas during World War II. Tinian was also the staging area for the B-29 bombers that dropped the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Satellite images obtained by The Drive this month show land-clearing work northeast of Tinian International Airport, with past satellite imagery suggesting that work on that site had begun in May.

This month’s new construction with the Tinian Divert Airfield project, which includes plans for a new aircraft taxiway and parking apron totaling US$162 million and a projected completion date of October 2025.

Chinese Sea Power: An Application of Mahanian Determinants to the Conditions of China

Robert O'Brien

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914) was a U.S. naval officer and strategist whose works received widespread global acclaim. His contributions retain modern relevance, as shown by the stream of current commentary referencing Mahanian theory.[1] Mahan focused on strategy rather than tactics, rendering his contributions relevant today despite technological advancements changing the nature of naval engagements at the tactical level.

Mahan’s published his breakthrough book in 1890, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783.[2] His overarching philosophy is the interdependence of military and commercial control of sea lanes and how such control can determine conflicts.[3] To ensure control of sea lanes distant from the home region, Mahan advocates for a network of bases connecting the home region and areas of strategic importance, whether for commercial, political, or military reasons.[4]

Mahan gained international renown during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly among emerging naval powers (the United States, Japan, and Germany) as well as legacy naval powers (Britain, France, and Russia). Mahan enjoyed celebrity status among heads of state. For example, German Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered all naval officers to read Mahan, while at the same time Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz commissioned a German translation of The Influence of Sea Power upon History and distributed 8,000 copies to the officer corps and every vessel.[5]

France’s Youth Aren’t Apathetic. They’re Angry

Eraldo Souza dos Santos

Three days after the first round of the French presidential elections in April, students occupied the Sorbonne University building in Paris. Their banners and posters displayed a recurrent slogan: “Neither Macron nor Le Pen,” referring to center-right President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who passed through to the second-round vote in a rematch of their 2017 contest.

As police cleared the building after 30 hours of occupation, both presidential candidates vehemently criticized the demonstration. But the protests quickly spread, with students across France expressing their dissatisfaction at having to once again choose between candidates from the center-right and the far right, when they and other voters younger than 34-years-old had overwhelmingly opted for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the candidate of the leftist party France Unbowed, in first-round voting.

China aims to bring Mars samples to Earth 2 years before NASA, ESA mission

Andrew Jones

HELSINKI — China’s Mars sample return mission aims to collect samples from the Red Planet and deliver them to Earth in 2031, or two years ahead of a NASA and ESA joint mission.

Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover mission, presented a new mission profile for China’s Mars sample return during a June 20 presentation in which he outlined plans for a two-launch profile, lifting off in late 2028 and delivering samples to Earth in July 2031.

The complex, multi-launch mission will have simpler architecture in comparison with the joint NASA-ESA project, with a single Mars landing and no rovers sampling different sites.

However, if successful, it would deliver to Earth the first collected Martian samples; an objective widely noted as one the major scientific goals of space exploration.

From Maritime Quad to Tech Quintet

Ryan Fedasiuk and Elliot Silverberg

Shortly after his election as president in April, Yoon Suk-yeol said he would “positively review” any invitation for the Republic of Korea (ROK) to formally join the Quad, but that he did not expect such an offer would be extended anytime soon.[1] Given his flurry of early outreach to the United States, Australia, India, and significantly Japan, ROK-Quad cooperation may no longer be a pipedream. In particular, Yoon’s ambitious digital agenda, an early hallmark of his policy priorities, underscores an opportunity to hitch South Korea’s formidable technological capabilities to the efforts of the Quad’s Working Group on Critical and Emerging Technologies.

The argument for cooperation, particularly around technology, is compelling. The ROK, like the existing Quad members, is a vibrant democracy that advocates for international peace and human rights, generally abides by fair and open market rules, and leads regional efforts to combat climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent years, the South Korean economy has become a leading producer of critical and emerging technologies, including in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science, and biotechnology; and today, Korean technology products are widely consumed within the Quad countries. As then president Moon Jae-in acknowledged through his May 2021 joint statement with President Joe Biden, the Quad’s “open, transparent, and inclusive regional multilateralism” may have profound consequences for South Korea’s geopolitical future, with or without Seoul’s active participation in the dialogue. This admission by Moon, however perfunctory, represented a significant shift away from years of Blue House strategic ambiguity, and even from statements just months prior that the Quad could jeopardize regional security. It also primes the Yoon administration for a much more forward-leaning approach to the Quad.

U.S. Speeds Up Reshaping of Taiwan’s Defenses to Deter China

Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has accelerated its efforts to reshape Taiwan’s defense systems as it projects a more robust American military presence in the region to try to deter a potential attack by the Chinese military, current and former U.S. officials say.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has made American and Taiwanese officials acutely aware that an autocrat can order an invasion of a neighboring territory at any moment. But it has also shown how a small military can hold out against a seemingly powerful foe.

U.S. officials are taking lessons learned from arming Ukraine to work with Taiwan in molding a stronger force that could repel a seaborne invasion by China, which has one of the world’s largest militaries.

What South Korea's power transfer means for China and Japan

Dave Lawler

SEOUL, South Korea — For the first time on record, polls suggest Koreans now feel more unfavorably toward China than they do toward Japan, a fellow U.S. ally and the country's former colonial ruler.

Why it matters: South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office just six weeks ago, has sent early signals that he intends to mend relations with Japan and take a more critical approach to China — just what the Biden administration wants to hear. But for historical reasons in Japan's case and trade considerations in China's, both shifts will be difficult to execute.

South Koreans' backlash against China has been driven by Beijing's response to Seoul's deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in 2017 — which included unofficial bans on K-pop acts, TV shows and a variety of products.Yes, but: While China's trade practices and growing geopolitical assertiveness are a source of considerable unease, even Yoon's allies don't think he can afford to pick fights with a regional giant that accounts for one-quarter of South Korea's trade.

Quantum Sensors—Unlike Quantum Computers—Are Already Here


Much ink has been spilled about quantum computers, particularly in overblown claims that quantum cryptanalysis will someday shred today’s encryption techniques. But their simpler cousins—quantum sensors—are here now and improving at a rate that demands urgent attention.

Quantum sensors use the smallest amounts of energy and matter to detect and measure tiny changes in time, gravity, temperature, pressure, rotation, acceleration, frequency, and magnetic and electric fields. They’ve been commercially available in various forms for more than a half-century; think of a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, machine, which tracks flips in the magnetic spin of individual hydrogen atoms to peer into a body. But recent progress in the field suggests that such sensors will soon bring a revolution in measurement and signals intelligence—possibly by making it far easier to detect submarines, spacecraft, and underground facilities.

Strategists must understand the new capabilities that quantum sensing will provide and start planning countermeasures today. Here are three examples that help explain why.

Indispensable: NATO’s Framework Nations Concept beyond Madrid

Sean Monaghan

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) leaders gather in Madrid this month to unveil the eighth strategic concept the alliance has adopted since the Washington Treaty was signed in 1949. The Madrid summit comes at a crucial moment in NATO’s history. In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and stated intent to overturn the existing security order in Europe, the alliance has committed to “resetting” its long-term approach.2 In preparing to endorse their latest vision, its leaders may wish to return to the alliance’s first concept for inspiration. That document set out a series of “defense principles” that endure to this day. One, in particular, stands out:

A basic principle of North Atlantic Treaty planning should be that each nation should undertake the task, or tasks, for which it is best suited. Certain nations, because of the geographic location or because of their capabilities, will appropriate specific missions.3

This principle can be seen today throughout NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has deployed elements of the NATO Response Force (NRF), bolstered existing Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) missions, and added four new multinational battlegroups, transforming its presence across Eastern Europe.4 The nations that host and contribute to these missions do so “because of the geographic location or because of their capabilities”—whether British armor in Estonia, U.S. missile defense in Poland, or French air defense and armored vehicles in Romania.5

Figure 1: NATO’s Eastern Flank

Source: “NATO’s Eastern Flank: Stronger Defense and Deterrence,” NATO HQ, March 21, 2022, https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2022/3/pdf/2203-map-det-def-east.pdfSpecialization that has bolstered 

NATO’s reassurance and deterrence efforts in the wake of Russia’s invasion is the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). The JEF is a group of 10 nations including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden and led by the United Kingdom.6 Due to their common geographical identity, the JEF is focused on security and defense in Northern Europe.7 In the wake of Russia’s invasion, the JEF has coordinated military activity, held a leaders summit in London attended virtually by President Volodymyr Zelensky, and deployed forces and a military headquarters to the Baltic region for the first time.8 The JEF is an example of NATO’s Framework Nations Concept (FNC), established at the Wales Summit in 2014 to encourage multinational groups within the alliance to develop deployable capabilities, led by a “framework nation.”

Whether through the NRF, EFP, multinational battlegroups, or FNCs such as the JEF, NATO’s response to the new European security environment shows the benefits of pursuing a model where nations undertake the tasks to which they are “best suited.” This paper explores whether NATO should do more beyond Madrid to harness the benefits of one of its founding principles through improving the FNC. It does so in three parts. First, it recaps the genesis of FNCs and their basis in NATO’s history. Second, it analyses the UK-led JEF model in more detail to draw out lessons and insights for developing the FNC. Finally, it looks beyond the JEF to consider the development of other FNCs—both existing and new (regional and thematic).

NATO’s Framework Nations Concept: Back to Basics

At the Wales summit in 2014, NATO’s leaders endorsed the FNC, which encouraged groups of nations within NATO to come together to “work multinationally for the joint development of forces and capabilities required by the Alliance, facilitated by a framework nation.”9 Three framework nation groups were established, led by the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.10

The aim of “framework nations” was to address persistent political and military shortfalls among NATO’s European members. Some of these had been revealed when they struggled to conduct air operations without significant assistance from the United States over Libya in 2011 under Operation Unified Protector11 It was also designed to capitalize on the hard-fought experience allies gained operating together under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force framework in Afghanistan. At the time, Anders Fogh-Rasmussen, then NATO secretary general, argued for European NATO nations to increase their “deployable and sustainable capabilities, as well as mustering the political resolve to use them.”12


The thinking behind framework nations harked back to the basic defense principle of regional specialization outlined in NATO’s first strategic concept.13 When the first strategic concept was endorsed in 1949, this principle was immediately put into action. NATO’s military authorities stood up five Regional Planning Groups (RPGs) to produce local contingency plans for defense against Soviet aggression.14

The five original RPGs were: Western Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic Ocean, and Canada-United States. The European RPGs were phased out from 1951, when NATO introduced a new integrated command structure and stood up Allied Command Europe.15 The Canada-U.S. RPG remained, while the North Atlantic RPG became Allied Command Atlantic.16 The importance of the regionalized approach was made clear in a 1951 planning memorandum that phased out the RPGs: “The Northern Region has been specifically asked to make plans for operations in the Baltic . . . an essential factor of the sea/land complex of Northern Europe.”17 These plans would be delegated to the commander-in-chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe, who would take over regional planning. The origins of the FNC can therefore be traced back to NATO’s original RPGs, with the JEF being rooted in the Northern Europe RPG.18


NATO’s first strategic concept also set out another basic principle of defense planning that the framework nations concept seeks to exploit:

The armed forces of those nations so located as to permit mutual support in the event of aggression should be developed on a coordinated basis in order that they can operate most economically and efficiently in accordance with a common strategic plan.19

The purpose of mutual coordination was to achieve “maximum efficiency of their armed forces, with the minimum necessary expenditures.”20 At the time of NATO’s founding, this was a major concern for the allies for two reasons: economic recovery from the war and the strength of Soviet forces.21 These two concerns dominated again prior to NATO’s Wales summit in 2014, when the FNC was conceived and endorsed due to ongoing policies of austerity among allies and Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian territory by force.22

The measures taken in Wales were designed to respond “to the challenges posed by Russia and their strategic implications” by exploiting the efficiencies of mutual coordination.23 While the 2012 “Smart Defense” was designed to encourage efficiency through joint equipment procurement and capability development, the FNC took this idea further.24 It adopted a wider view that nations with “regional ties” and long-established traditions of working together could coordinate their training, exercising, interoperability, doctrine, and operational formations.25

Mutual coordination through regional ties enables nations that prefer to work together to formalize and develop those relations under NATO’s umbrella. For example, the idea of the JEF allies being “like-minded” was central to its appeal, with the JEF even described by one defense minister as a “Force of Friends.”26

Framework nations also recognized that not all nations were equal: not every ally was able and willing to take leadership roles. Larger nations capable of doing so could gain practical and reputational benefits by leading coalitions, while smaller nations could benefit from being part of regional formations.27 As one analyst suggests, FNC “represents probably the most evolved form to date of matching the capabilities and contributions of larger and smaller European Allies.”28 This did not mean smaller allies contributed less; instead, they did so proportionately to their means, in the spirit of NATO’s basic principles.29

It is true that “applications of framework nation arrangements among the Allies are almost as old as NATO itself.”30 The development of the JEF and its utility, particularly in recent months, shows the benefits of this approach in practice in NATO’s contemporary environment.
The Joint Expeditionary Force: Putting the Framework Nations Concept into Practice

The JEF is perhaps the leading example of the FNC in practice. The war in Ukraine has seen the JEF evolve beyond the aims set by NATO leaders in Wales to become a political-military entity in its own right. The JEF’s development since 2014 may therefore provide inspiration for the future of framework nations in NATO beyond Madrid and the next strategic concept.

The United Kingdom’s intent to form the JEF was originally declared in a 2012 speech by then chief of the defense staff, General Sir David Richards: “The JEF will be of variable size; a framework into which others fit.”31 It was conceived and “designed to meet our NATO obligations,” based on the experience of Libya, where “Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were able to play a vital role by bringing their regional expertise into the command structure of a NATO operation.”32

The JEF established its own political momentum through a letter of intent signed on the same day as the Wales summit by the original seven members, followed by a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2015.33 Leadership of the JEF was cemented as a UK priority in its 2015 defense review as part of the United Kingdom’s policy of becoming “international by design.”34

The first dedicated JEF exercise was held in 2016 and involved 1,600 troops and all seven partner nations.35 During the sequel, in 2017, Sweden and Finland joined the JEF, increasing the group to nine nations and adding another dimension by bringing non-NATO members into the framework.36 On June 28, 2018, a new MOU formally declared the JEF able to “deploy over 10,000 personnel from across the nine nations.”37 Iceland joined in 2021, after which the 10 JEF nations issued a new policy directive “designed to provide the overarching policy framework within which the JEF can evolve as a concept and operate as a force, across a broad spectrum of operational activity.”38

Since becoming operational in 2018, the JEF has conducted a variety of exercises and deployments. In 2019, a JEF maritime task group led by HMS Albion conducted Exercise Baltic Protector in the Baltic Sea, alongside “covert amphibious raids, urban ambushes and counter-mine training” with partner JEF nations.39 In 2021, the JEF conducted its first operational deployment in the Baltic Sea to reassure allies in the region, with Royal Navy frigates leading vessels from all three Baltic states.40 JEF nations also took part that year in Exercise Joint Protector in Sweden to exercise and develop their responses to hybrid threats.41

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the JEF has come to the fore of Europe’s response to Russia in a wider role.42 The JEF has proven itself as a useful political-military format for its members. In February, JEF leaders met in Sweden (military chiefs) and Belvoir Castle in England (defense ministers), and leaders convened a virtual summit the day after the invasion.43 On March 15, 18 days into the war, President Zelensky joined another JEF leaders meeting.44 JEF leaders declared their support for “significant economic and humanitarian support in response to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the region,” measures that have been taken “directly, and through multilateral organisations.”45

JEF militaries have also been working together to deliver “a series of integrated military activities across our part of northern Europe—at sea, on land and in the air.”46 These have included joint maritime patrols between British, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, and Danish ships; exercises with Swedish and Danish fighter aircraft; resupply of the NATO battlegroup in Estonia and freedom of navigation patrols; the Baltic Protector JEF maritime task group led by the HMS Defender; Exercise Hedgehog and combat air patrols in Estonia; arctic operations in Norway; Exercise Mjolner in the Baltic Sea; and tank warfare training on Exercise Arrow in Finland.47 Most recently, the JEF deployed its standing military headquarters for the first time to Lithuania and Latvia, a deployment that includes “over 220 personnel, from the UK and other JEF nations, including specialists in cyber, space and information operations.”48


According to British prime minister Boris Johnson, the JEF has proven itself to be “a very, very useful, dynamic format.”49 But what lessons can NATO take from the JEF’s development and employment since 2014 to develop the FNC beyond Madrid? The survey above suggests several features that have helped develop the JEF that could be applied by NATO to other FNCs:Set a clear vision. The Wales summit vision for the JEF was clear: “a rapidly deployable force capable of conducting the full spectrum of operations.”50 This simple vision has guided the development and activities of the JEF through training, exercising, deployment, and policy development. In comparison, the original aims set in Wales for the German-led FNC (to create “a number of multinational projects to address Alliance priority areas across a broad spectrum of capabilities”) and the Italian-led FNC (to “focus on improving a number of Alliance capability areas”) are less focused.51

Maintain a regional focus. The JEF’s vision and role has also focused on the Northern European area of the High North, North Atlantic, and Baltic Sea region.52 While the JEF retains the ambition to act further afield if its members so wish, this focus on meeting, first and foremost, the security challenges of Northern Europe provides a natural incentive for its members to cooperate and pursue a cohesive approach and common identity.53

Build on existing foundations. The JEF also exploits the common political and military-strategic foundations of its members, which are founded on shared operational experience and common values.54 The political cohesion of JEF nations is a function of the “like-mindedness” of JEF allies, bolstered by common political entities such as the Northern Group and NORDEFCO.55 The military-strategic lineage of the JEF in NATO’s original Northern European Regional Planning Group—and its successors post-1951 within NATO’s integrated command structure—also contributes to its identity. Another example of the contemporary relevance of these constructs is the recent formation of NATO’s Atlantic Command (located in Norfolk, Virginia), the lineage of which can be traced to the original North Atlantic Ocean RPG, via SACLANT (formed in 1952).56 In this regard, the three other original RPGs—focused on Western Europe, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and the Canada-U.S. region—may provide natural foundations for NATO to develop further FNCs.

Develop a political identity and brand. The clear vision, regional focus, and common foundations of the JEF have enabled the formation of a political identity. Although the foundations were already in place, the JEF nations have sought to develop and display their political cohesion through consistent high-level meetings, public statements, letters of intent, MOUs, political directives, and strategic communication campaigns to reinforce the JEF brand (see Figure 3 below).57 This serves to reinforce the group’s political identify and can have powerful effects. For example, one analyst suggests that the provision of security assurances by the United Kingdom to Finland and Sweden prior to their official announcements to seek NATO membership “could happen quickly, mainly because Helsinki and Stockholm have built trust with London working together in the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force.”58

Figure 3: Brand-Building Strategic Communications for JEF

Source: UK’s Standing Joint Force HQ, Twitter post, May 20, 2022, 5:10 AM, https://twitter.com/SJFHQ_UK/status/1527577368294051842?s=20&t=zTNCFEMJ44vBFYgF4QchIA; and UK’s Standing Joint Force HQ, Twitter post, May 19, 2022, 12:05 PM, https://twitter.com/SJFHQ_UK/status/1527319419373776898?s=20&t=zTNCFEMJ44vBFYgF4QchIA

Refine the membership. The JEF has grown since 2014 from the original 7 members to 10, adding Finland and Sweden in 2017 and Iceland in 2021. New members add strength and capacity in both political and military-strategic terms. The addition of Finland and Sweden also demonstrated in practice how “the JEF is designed with flexibility at its heart” by including non-NATO partners in a NATO-born initiative.59 However, a balance is required: too many members risks diluting purpose and regional focus and undermining agility and flexibility.

Maintain a constant drumbeat of activity. The JEF has delivered a regular program of activity since its inception, ranging from large scale dedicated exercises such as the annual Baltic Protector series to smaller presence and logistics operations conducted under a JEF banner.60 The main benefit of doing this is to develop the interoperability and readiness of JEF forces to work together in a crisis. Another benefit is to drive development through a continuous cycle of exercising, development, and political direction (JEF national policy directors and ministers also meet regularly). This constant drumbeat of activity, which is called for by the JEF policy direction, is set to continue with new operations and exercises scheduled this year and next.61

Set out clear policy direction. The JEF published its policy direction in 2021, accompanied by a classified “military JEF Directive that includes clear Military Strategic Objectives.”62 This follows NATO’s model of publishing its strategic concepts (since 1991) while developing classified detailed military-strategic guidance. The benefit of this model is to raise public awareness of the JEF’s purpose and remit. It also signals to allies and adversaries the commitment and solidarity of the partner nations to an agreed set of principles for the JEF’s development and employment.

Emphasize framework nation leadership. For the FNC to work, the framework nation must lead. This responsibility is political as well as operational. The United Kingdom has invested significant political capital and military resources in the JEF since its inception. For example, it hosts the JEF’s deployable headquarters, and the lead force elements on JEF operations and training are usually British. Doing this serves a purpose for the United Kingdom by enhancing its reputation and contributing to the government’s flagship “Global Britain” agenda.63 But the JEF partner nations also benefit from UK leadership through being part of a viable regional security framework.

Be flexible and relevant. As well as flexibility in membership across institutional boundaries, the JEF is also designed to be operationally flexible across “the full spectrum of operations, including high intensity operations.”64 The plethora of JEF operations conducted in the Baltic region in recent weeks to reassure allies and deter aggression demonstrates relevance. So does the use of the JEF as a political-military forum to coordinate regional responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and support for President Zelensky. The JEF’s ability to evolve with the security environment is even enshrined with its policy direction: “As the security challenges we face evolve, so must we, as JEF Participants, continue to evolve our own capabilities and how we employ them.”65 One example of this is the JEF’s new focus on “sub-threshold” competition and hybrid threats through adapting its policy, doctrine, and exercising.66

These lessons are used in Figure 4 to assess the progress made by the German and Italian-led FNCs established in 2014.

Figure 4: Best Practices for Implementing Framework Nation Concepts

What Is Next for NATO’s Framework Nations Concept?

In response to Russia’s reinvasion of Ukraine and renewed threat to NATO and European security, NATO is resetting its defense and deterrence posture.67 This should include developing the alliance’s FNC beyond the Madrid summit. As two German analysts put it, “the FNC can become the key instrument to shape Europe’s defense structure.”68 Doing so will require two tasks: making the most of existing FNC initiatives and developing new ones.



The war on Ukraine has already transformed Germany’s defense and security policy. On February 27, German chancellor Olaf Scholz made his now infamous zeitenwende (“turning point”) speech that overturned decades of Germany policy.69 Its two principal commitments were to establish a €100 billion ($104 billion) special defense fund for immediate investments in military capabilities and to invest more than 2 percent of GDP on defense (from fiscal year 2022–2023). If followed through, these commitments will soon make Germany the largest defense spender in Europe. As German defense and security ambitions increase, so should the ambition and scope of the FNC it leads.

However, the zeitenwende is not just about spending more on defense. It also requires a cultural shift within the government and the military to successfully transform German defense policy. Indeed, the German government has already found the implementation of the zeitenwende far more difficult than the political decision and statement.70 Therefore, investing in and developing this FNC can help Germany itself develop as a European security actor alongside allies and partners. As the Bundeswehr’s own white paper stated in 2016: “Germany is willing to assume responsibility and leadership as a framework nation in alliances and partnerships.”71

Germany’s FNC could also be a useful vehicle for addressing some of its allies’ concerns about Germany’s past reluctance to commit forces to multinational operations.72 Furthermore, it may repair some of the reputational damage for the country’s perceived lack of support for Ukraine and past foreign policy toward Russia.73

Germany’s FNC has a dual focus: (1) to form capability development clusters with a broad remit, including logistics support; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection; and deployable headquarters, and (2) to build larger multilateral military formations.74 The second task that is now the most valuable for the defense of Europe, which is why Germany expanded the FNC in 2015 to include the generation of follow-on forces to bolster NATO’s Readiness Action Plan.75 Germany also already acts as a framework nation in several European force constructs, including the 1st German-Netherlands Corps, the 11-nation Eurocorps, and NATO’s Multinational Corps North East.76

In terms of the lessons identified from the JEF’s development, Germany’s FNC is doing well in some areas (see Figure 4 below). The membership has grown from 10 to 20, bolstered by the urgency of the task combined with Germany’s leadership role across other multinational constructs.77 The expansion of the FNC to provide NRF follow-on forces has demonstrated flexibility and relevance. The FNC’s membership and regional focus builds on NATO’s original Western Europe RPG and other regional political groups such as the Central European Defence Cooperation framework.78 That said, Germany’s FNC seems to lack a clear vision, a political identity and brand, a constant drumbeat of activity, and transparent political direction. Its dual purpose and large membership also threaten to dilute the purpose and identity of the FNC.

The promise of Germany’s FNC, combined with changes in its defense policy and leadership role, gives it substantial development potential. If its purpose can be streamlined and a clear identity established, the Madrid summit presents an excellent political opportunity for Germany to use its FNC to help fulfil its leadership potential at the heart of NATO and European defense and security writ large.


According to one analysis, the Italian-led FNC “is considerably less ambitious and tangible than that of the other two FNC groups.”79 Its six members originally focused on stabilization, reconstruction, provision of enablers, and rapidly deployable command structures. In 2018, the group remodeled itself with a new goal to enhance cooperation, interoperability, operational output, collaborative capability development, and the establishment of multinational formations.80

The Italian FNC seems to be less advanced in terms of the JEF lessons (see Figure 4 for more detail). It lacks a clear vision, identity and brand, transparent political direction, and leadership initiatives from Rome. As such, its activity appears sporadic. Unlike the JEF and the German group, this group is yet to increase its membership.81 That said, the group was “completely renovated through a brand-new overall approach” in 2018.82 This was “part of a wider process to strengthen the ITA-FNC initiative aimed at consolidating further cohesion.” This renovation should help the Italian FNC build on its regional focus and its common foundations—through NATO’s original Southern Europe and Mediterranean RPG and political groups such as the Defence Cooperation Initiative.83

On the relevance of the Italian FNC, one of its original focus areas—stabilization operations—remains critical to the alliance for three reasons. First, the immediate NATO lessons-learned process for Afghanistan concluded that crisis management should remain a core task.84 Second, this lessons-learned process was conducted too quickly to gain a full understanding of 20 years of stabilization and reconstruction missions in Afghanistan. Therefore, there remains a rich source of data to fully analyze to develop these lessons, in conjunction with NATO’s Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence and Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence, and formalize this into standardized NATO doctrine for future operational use.85 Third, Russian destabilizing activities in Africa, through Wagner Group mercenaries, has fragmented and disrupted European operations within the Sahel.86 This activity will likely have consequences for the security of Europe, meaning a potentially larger role for NATO.87

Establishing New Regional Framework Nation Concepts

In response to the war in Ukraine, NATO has already doubled its multinational battlegroups from four to eight.88 These deployments are managed on a framework nation basis. Yet in addition to the defense of Europe and deterrence of Russian aggression, NATO should also address regional security issues to provide “360-degree security.”89 The Madrid summit is an opportune moment to begin feasibility studies to further develop regional FNCs.


The priority for an additional FNC is in the Black Sea region, where Russian domination leads to insecurity.90 Moreover, the Black Sea has increased in prominence due to its critical role for the Ukrainian economy and global food supply, in addition to upholding the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. With NATO’s Tailored Forward Presence in Bulgaria and Romania already reinforced, there is a gap for a NATO maritime presence in the Black Sea. However, selecting the lead nation for the group may be challenging.

The United Kingdom has significant interest in the Black Sea and has sent nine Royal Navy missions there since 2017 under Operation Orbital to assist Ukraine.91 In 2021, HMS Defender was aggressively shadowed by Russian ships while conducting freedom of navigation operations off the coast of Crimea. The United Kingdom has also created Littoral Response Group North to operate across the Euro-Atlantic region.92 However, considering its JEF leadership role and specialist capabilities that are best suited to Northern Europe, leading an FNC in the Black Sea might overstretch UK capabilities.

Both France and Turkey would naturally be best placed to lead, if political tensions between the two can be managed following the formation of a bilateral Franco-Greek defense pact in 2021.93 France, now leading the NATO multinational battlegroup in Romania, could extend its security provision to the Black Sea and leverage its significant naval capabilities. Turkey should be involved due to its geostrategic importance through control of access to the Black Sea.94 Other contributing nations could be drawn from regular participants in NATOs annual Black Sea Exercise BREEZE.95


The Mediterranean Sea, as Europe’s southern flank and linked to the Black Sea, would be the next priority for a regional FNC. France and Italy, who regularly conduct large exercises with the U.S. Navy, including France deploying its Charles de Gaulle carrier task force, would be the most suitable lead nations.96 Moreover, both have experience operating in the Mediterranean as part of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector against Libya in 2011.97 Alongside Spain and Greece, both nations have significant security concerns emanating from the south, such as terrorism, organized crime, and illegal migration. Alternatively, NATO could build an enhanced FNC around its extant Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, which also operates within the Black Sea.98 Security challenges from the south are also shared with the European Union, and the flexibility of FNCs should allow greater interoperability with external structures and capabilities, such as the EU border and coast guard agency FRONTEX.99


The Western Balkans continue to be a potential flashpoint for conflict that is vulnerable to Russian influence. The importance of the Balkans remaining stable is underlined by three continuing European missions: NATO’s KFOR in Kosovo since 1999, EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina since 2004, and EULEX Kosovo since 2008.100 Regional, political, and historical sensitivities mean that NATO member states of Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and North Macedonia should have a leading role for any FNC, supported by other European nations with a deep interest in stability in the Balkans, such as the United Kingdom. A Western Balkans FNC could also support accession of countries wishing to join NATO or the European Union, developing interoperability and standardization.


The war in Ukraine, especially the European response, has shifted Europe’s center of gravity east toward Europe’s Central and Eastern European (CEE) states, who, alongside the Baltic countries, have provided significant military, diplomatic, and humanitarian support to Ukraine.101 While the region already hosts political and defense cooperation, such as the Visegrad 4 and Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC), this newfound confidence and influence could be harnessed and developed through an additional FNC.102 This FNC could be focused on long-term support for, and response to, the Ukraine war and more effectively burden sharing related tasks, such as coordinating humanitarian assistance, training Ukrainian forces on Western-supplied weapon systems, and refugee support.

Establishing New Thematic Framework Nation Concepts

Closely linked to the idea of regional FNCs is the development of frameworks with thematic specializations.103 Specialization is not a new concept within NATO or European security but has proved challenging given the tendency of states to avoid relying on others for wholesale capabilities or giving up elements of their own force.104 FNCs can offer a more flexible approach to specialization that can potentially alleviate political sensitivities.


This form of FNC could build on activity already established by NATO-accredited Centers of Excellence (COEs), as well as European centers such as the Hybrid Threats Centre of Excellence Helsinki, which focus on conceptual development, developing best practice, and knowledge sharing and transfer.105 These FNCs would provide an additional operational and deployable capability to complement COE activity and would be able to enhance initiatives already underway. Moreover, thematic FNCs, overlayed with regional requirements, could unlock new opportunities for collaboration. Specialization and regional requirements can merge. For example, operating in the Arctic requires specialist capabilities and troops who are trained and conditioned to live and fight in extreme environments. For this purpose, it has been argued that NATO might benefit from establishing a dedicated Arctic Command.106 Here, framework nations could act as a precursor to developing more formalized and institutionalized structures within NATO.


Cyber is a growth area for the alliance. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence COE is a hub for cyber to support expertise and cooperation.107 While all nations will need cyber capabilities, the quality and reach of each nation varies considerably. For example, not all nations have offensive cyber capabilities, especially capabilities that can be effective against state-based threats, or the legal freedoms to use them. Therefore, an FNC formed around the provision of high-end capabilities, which could be led by the United States and United Kingdom given their advanced capabilities in this area, would significantly enhance offensive cyber and collective cyber defense for the alliance. The enhanced capabilities of leading allies could also be used to boost cyber resilience—supporting individual member states who are more at risk of cyberattack, surging specialist capabilities when required, or better managing the response to a significant cyberattack.


Special operations forces (SOF) are an area that NATO has heavily invested in during its time commanding the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where SOF played an important role. NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) Special Operations Component Command was declared fully operational at the 2014 Wales summit.108 Indeed, NSHQ is a pillar of the Connected Forces Initiative, which aims to ensure that allies and partners retain interoperability and collaboration levels from missions in Afghanistan, Libya, and the Balkans. Therefore, NSHQ ensures the benchmarking of SOF across the alliance. The role of framework nations in this area would be to further develop interoperability and integration across the whole range of SOF tasks, especially with conventional multinational formations. This activity is already underway through the Composite Special Operations Component Command between Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands and the Regional Special Operations Component Command between Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Austria.109 These initiatives could be consolidated and developed into another FNC.


Finally, NATO’s air and missile defense capabilities are critical for the defense and deterrence of Europe but are at risk of capability and capacity shortfalls to meet the threat from Russia.110 To address these challenges, a framework nation could be established to coordinate air and missile defense efforts to ensure the coherence of ongoing initiatives.111 Moreover, this FNC could focus on the integration, coverage, and layering of current air and missile defense capabilities to ensure they make the best use of current resources to support each NATO multinational battlegroup.112 In addition, this framework nation would naturally be best placed to develop future air and missile defense requirements for the alliance to inform the NATO Defense Planning Process.

Finally, in developing existing and new FNCs, NATO should also manage the risks. While FNCs could be the answer to NATO’s prayers for a more efficient and effective collective defense and deterrence, if they result in “multispeed cooperation” or “coalitions of the willing” inside NATO then FNCs may undermine unity and cohesion at the level of 30 allies.113 In particular, the FNC led by Germany has grown in scope and membership to the extent it risks becoming a slightly smaller version of NATO-led capability development initiatives and formations, with concurrent risks of double-tapping or duplicating forces and projects.114 Ultimately, these issues are for the nations to solve through the mechanisms NATO provides, including its defense planning process. As one study puts it: “It is on the member states and allied institutions in Brussels to prevent or at least to moderate such developments.”115

Framework Nations: Still Indispensable

NATO’s FNC is the latest of many alliance initiatives since 1949 to attempt to enhance collective defense through multinational cooperation. It reflects some of the basic principles set out in NATO’s first strategic concept, such as national specialization, mutual coordination, and regional planning. NATO has long navigated the creative tension between top-down orchestration and bottom-up specialization.116 This trend has continued since the last strategic concept in 2010 through Smart Defense and the FNC. Both initiatives have played their part in improving cooperation and coordination between allies in an era when European defense budgets have both fallen and risen in response to external shocks.

Defense spending in Europe is now rising rapidly in response to Russia’s reinvasion of Ukraine. This does not mean that allies can relax their efforts to cooperate and coordinate their efforts. The scale and seriousness of Russia’s renewed threat to Europe, combined with the precarious global economic situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the fallout from Russia’s war of aggression, demands the same emphasis on economic efficiency and credible deterrence that faced NATO’s leaders and military planners in 1949. As today’s officials look beyond NATO’s Madrid summit to implement their new strategic concept, the FNC offers them an indispensable tool to achieve their goals.

Latest Ukraine Package: More Artillery and the Beginnings of a New Navy

Mark F. Cancian

The recently announced 13th aid package to Ukraine ($450 million in total) continues to strengthen Ukrainian artillery since artillery has become the dominant combat arm in the recent fighting and provides 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats to start rebuilding the devastated Ukrainian navy. This package builds on the 12th aid package announced just a week ago. However, the patrol boats’ limited capabilities and a lack of conventional munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) reduce the package’s impact. Also interesting is what is missing: drones, fighter jets, and tanks.

Coastal and Riverine Patrol Boats

The Ukrainian navy was virtually destroyed early in the war, so it is not surprising that the United States would seek to rebuild it. The Ukrainians scuttled their largest warship, the Hetman Sahaidachny, when Russian forces moved on the port of Mykolaiv and threatened to capture it. Several smaller units were destroyed or scuttled when the Russians captured the Ukrainian naval bases at Berdyansk and Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.

Interview: How Much Is China Helping Russia Finance Its War In Ukraine?

Reid Standish

China’s growing appetite for discounted Russian oil has made it the leading financier of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine by giving Moscow a reliable revenue source that blunts the impact of tough Western sanctions against its economy.

Four months after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, China has overtaken Germany as the biggest single buyer of Russian energy, with oil sales to China -- and India, another energy-hungry Asian nation -- helping to fill a gap left by Europe, Russia’s biggest export market.

China and India have together bought an estimated 2.4 million barrels of Russian crude oil a day in May, half of Russia's total exports.

Despite being sold at a steep discount, the purchases -- along with climbing oil prices -- have allowed Russian revenues to grow in the face of Western pressure and given Moscow a crucial financial lifeline to keep funding its war effort.

Never mind China's new aircraft carrier, these are the ships the US should worry about

Brad Lendon

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)China made a big statement about its naval ambitions with the recent launch of its third and most advanced aircraft carrier.

The Fujian -- by far China's biggest, most modern and most powerful aircraft carrier to date -- is the 80,000-ton jewel in the crown of a military expansion that has seen Beijing grow its navy into the world's largest.

Its new combat systems -- such as an electromagnetic catapult-assisted launch system -- show China is fast catching up with the United States, experts say, and will give it the ability to launch more aircraft, more quickly, and with more ammunition.

That should be enough to give any would-be opponent pause for thought, especially given China's increasing aggression in its territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea, a host of Southeast Asian nations in the South China Sea, and its repeated harassment of the self-governed island of Taiwan -- where it has pointedly refused to rule out an invasion.

Transcript of Pompeo Speech on Ukraine and a Global Alliance for Freedom

WASHINGTON—Below is the transcript of the speech by Hudson Distinguished Fellow and the 70th U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will give today at Hudson Institute on the future of Ukraine and why the U.S. should defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression:

“It’s great to be here at the Hudson Institute. To those of you from the Ambassadors Court, thank you for being here. Honored guests and friends, it’s an honor to greet you. I consider it an enormous responsibility to speak to you about a matter of the utmost urgency and significance. It involves war, Ukraine, and the necessity of forming a new global alliance for freedom, which has to contest, which must contest both Russian and Chinese aggression.

“I last had the privilege of meeting with President Zelenskyy in January 2020. How different the world seemed then. But unlike the presidency that the Trump administration followed, America did not hesitate in supplying Ukraine with weapons, such as the Javelin, which broke the back of Russia’s armed advance to Ukraine’s capital. I looked back at this as I was preparing for this speech, at the joint press conference with President Zelenskyy. Your nation’s heroic president thanked the Trump administration for our support of Ukraine in the war and the Donbas and your efforts to reclaim Crimea. A war for freedom now rages in Ukraine, it demands that we speak with absolute candor and with unlimited certainty of purpose.

Timid west must draw a line in the sea and break Putin’s criminal food blockade

Simon Tisdall

How much longer can the western powers delay decisive action to break Russia’s illegal Black Sea food blockade? The UN warns this reckless maritime siege, now entering its fifth month, threatens “catastrophe on top of catastrophe” for tens of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people dependent on Ukraine’s grain exports. Yet Nato and EU leaders are visibly floundering, disunited and distracted as apocalyptic disaster looms.

Questions about the west’s response to the Ukraine invasion – what weapons to send, whether Nato should act more forcibly – must be viewed in this larger context: the necessity of defending fundamental humanitarian principles upon which the UN and the global rules-based order have been based for 75 years. It’s about blameless victims of a manmade atrocity. It’s about decency, about leadership.

What Vladimir Putin is doing, right now, by weaponising staple food prices, creating artificial shortages, and risking starvation and famine among 100 million people from the Horn of Africa and the Sahel to Central America, constitutes a crime against humanity. That’s an act purposefully committed by a state as part of a systematic policy directed against civilians. There is no argument. He’s gone rogue. He must be stopped.