A Debater’s Research Guide To NATO’s 2022 Madrid Summit

Last week, NATO held a summit meeting in Madrid, Spain. Leaders from NATO member and partner countries gathered to “discuss important issues facing the Alliance,” “set NATO’s strategic direction for the future,” and “ensur[e] that the Alliance will continue to adapt to a changing world and keep its one billion people safe.”

For students preparing to debate the 2022-2023 high school policy topic about NATO and emerging technology, the Madrid Summit was a significant event. Some arguments that were designed before the summit no longer make sense, and many new arguments can be constructed based on evidence reacting to the summit.

In this post, I will share resources to help students more effectively understand and research the summit and its implications for the topic.

What Happened at the Summit?

The official agenda outlined the following goals:

  1. Strengthening NATO’s long-term deterrence and defence.
  2. Sustaining support for Ukraine.
  3. Launching NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept.
  4. Reinforcing Partnerships and maintaining and open door.
  5. Adapting to threats and challenges from any direction.
  6. Transatlantic unity and alliance solidarity.

Most of that happened. The most significant announcements from the summit were:

  • Troop and weapon system deployments in Poland, Romania, and the Baltic States will increase. This will include a permanently stationed U.S. presence in Poland.
  • NATO’s Rapid Response Force will be expanded from 40,000 to 300,000 troops.
  • Allies agreed to increase direct support of Ukraine including nonlethal equipment and cyber defense systems.
  • Finland and Sweden were formally invited to join the alliance.
  • NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept (see below).

The following resources will be helpful for students researching the summit and its consequences:

What Is The Strategic Concept?

The Strategic Concept is NATO’s statement of strategic purpose:

The Strategic Concept is a key document for the Alliance. It reaffirms NATO’s values and purpose, and provides a collective assessment of the security environment. It also drives NATO’s strategic adaptation and guides its future political and military development.

The Strategic Concept is reviewed and updated regularly. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been updated approximately every 10 years to take account of changes to the global security environment and to make sure the Alliance is prepared for the future.

The previous Strategic Concept was adopted at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010. The new Strategic Concept describes the new security reality facing the Alliance, reaffirms NATO’s values, and spells out NATO’s key purpose of ensuring Allies’ collective defence.

The 2022 Strategic Concept emphasizes deterrence of Russia, strategic competition with China, innovation and resilience related to emerging and disruptive technologies, counter-terrorism, climate change adaptation, and cooperation with the EU.

There have already been many articles written about the new Strategic Concept, and more will be published in the weeks and months ahead. The following resources will be particularly helpful for debaters:

What Happened With Emerging Technology?

The new Strategic Concept explicitly addresses emerging and disruptive technologies:

17. Emerging and disruptive technologies bring both opportunities and risks. They are altering the character of conflict, acquiring greater strategic importance and becoming key arenas of global competition. Technological primacy increasingly influences success on the battlefield.

Paragraphs 15-17 and 24-27 are particularly relevant, but there are several other parts of the Strategic Concept that also address emerging tech-related issues. MeriTalk summarized the key cyber provisions as follows:

* Bolstering Ukraine’s cyber defenses and resilience, and supporting the modernization of its defense sector to strengthen interoperability with NATO;

* Taking a “360-degree approach across the land, air, maritime, cyber, and space domains, and against all threats and challenges”;

* Boosting “our resilience to cyber and hybrid threats and strengthening our interoperability”;

* Building out and exercising “a virtual rapid response cyber capability to respond to significant malicious cyber activities”;

* Strengthening cyber defenses through “enhanced civil-military cooperation” and expanding partnerships with industry.

As an initial step to implement the emerging technology parts of the Strategic Concept, NATO also formally announced a new NATO Innovation Fund to “help bring to life those nascent technologies that have the power to transform our security in the decades to come, strengthening the Alliance’s innovation ecosystem and bolstering the security of our one billion citizens.” The fund is intended to support DIANA, the previously-announced NATO defense technology incubator.

Debaters will find the following resources useful when researching the emerging technology-related effects of the summit:

There have already been many articles, videos, podcasts, and other materials published about the Madrid Summit. Soon there will be many more. The above resources only scratch the surface of what debaters will find as they research the NATO topic in the weeks and months ahead, but I hope this post will help give them a useful head start.