The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is pondering appointing a senior executive to manage counterterrorism efforts. This move aims to please President Donald Trump who called on the Alliance to focus more on terror threats. The proposal is in line with NATO’s previous decision to create a senior intelligence post, which has been repeatedly praised by the new US administration. President Trump also said that the decision to boost intelligence was a proof that NATO was no longer obsolete since it had responded to his criticisms.
An appointment of a senior counter-terrorism coordinator has been previously questioned by senior NATO diplomats on the grounds that his/her role would not be impactful unless NATO expanded its counter-terrorism efforts including funding additional training initiatives. There have been discussions within the Alliance about how counterterrorism training could be expanded, including ways to use allied special operations forces to improve training of anti-terror commandos in the Middle East and Africa. Those proposals could also encompass expanding the mandate of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters, which develops NATO counterterrorism plans.
An expansion of anti-terror resources such as special-operations forces could have a negative impact on NATO’s budget. Moreover, some would like to see the Alliance conducting anti-terrorism strikes against ISIS in Syria, Libya or Afghanistan, which some NATO members oppose. So far, no NATO member, including the United States, has advocated expanding such missions. According to Bruno Lété of the German Marshall Fund, the US has suggested that it wanted NATO to do more to fight terrorism. “NATO allies are going to need to subscribe to Trump’s desire for a new NATO that can engage in counterterrorism efforts,” Mr. Lété said.