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NATO Comprehensive Approach: Home


When searching for information on this topic, potentially useful keywords to use include :

  • comprehensive approach
  • CIMIC OR civil-military cooperation
  • Civil-military interaction (CMI)
  • civil-military operations

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Conference Report

The NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division teamed up with Carnegie Europe to organize the conference The World in 2020 – Can NATO Protect Us? The Challenges to Critical Infrastructure.

Threats to critical infrastructure, such as cyber attacks international terrorism and attacks on energy supply, can be devastating to the livelihoods of modern societies and cannot be met by military means alone. The conference with renowned speakers from NATO, academia and national administrations discussed NATO’s role in meeting security challenges to critical infrastructure.

The conference report can be downloaded here:


This LibGuide includes links to content found on the web (e.g. websites, news & blogs, reports, etc.) as well as a select number of articles and books available from the NATO Multimedia Library.

Please note that this is not a comprehensive collection of material on the topic. The selection criteria for the websites and documents included was based on each item's currency and relevancy to this topic. 

Furthermore, quick search boxes for online databases subscribed by the Library (available to staff working at NATO HQ) as well as links to the library catalog are available for you to locate additional resources.


This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to the comprehensive approach; in particular, in the NATO context. 

What is the comprehensive approach? Literature on this topic seems to suggest that there does not appear to be a common definition. The paper, "The Comprehensive Approach to Civil-Military Crisis Management : A Critical Analysis and Perspective" (2010) by Dr. Cécile Wendling provides an analysis of how this concept is perceived by different international organizations such as NATO, the EU, OSCE, etc. 

The comprehensive approach appears to be a global concept that is often associated with civil-military cooperation; however, it goes beyond the existing NATO doctrine on enhanced civil-military cooperation (CIMIC). Furthermore, it is often mentioned in conjunction with counterinsurgency, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT-Afghanistan), peace operations, stability operations and crisis management. 

According to NATO's Topic Page on the Comprehensive Approach:

"NATO’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, underlines that lessons learned from NATO operations show that effective crisis management calls for a comprehensive approach involving political, civilian and military instruments. Military means, although essential, are not enough on their own to meet the many complex challenges to Euro-Atlantic and international security. Allied leaders agreed at Lisbon to enhance NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach to crisis management as part of the international community’s effort and to improve NATO’s ability to contribute to stabilzation and reconstruction."

There are three goals to NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach (Source: Allied Joint Publication (AJP)-01 Edition E, Version 1, ALLIED JOINT DOCTRINE (28 February 2017):

a. Improve the coherent application of the Alliance’s own crisis management instruments, including its military and political planning procedures.
b. Improve the Alliance’s practical cooperation at all levels with partners, the UN and other relevant international organizations, governmental and non - governmental organizations (NGOs), contractors, commercial partners and local actors when planning and conducting operations.
c. Enhance the Alliance’s ability to support stabilization and reconstruction (S&R) efforts in all phases of a conflict in concert with other actors.

To help provide a broader understanding of this concept, information sources pertinent to the comprehensive approach as a concept are also included in this LibGuide. Good places to start your research include :