NATO’s strength lies in unity, in our shared commitment to peace, democracy, and the principles that bind America and our European allies together. In the face of a more aggressive and likely more tumultuous Russia to come, it’s time to reaffirm these principles and act decisively to secure our future. Here’s my suggestion for a three-pronged approach.

Image of the UN Headquarters in NYC

Firstly, Cohesion and Commitment: We need to redouble our efforts to foster unity and deepen our commitment to collective defense. This means not just meeting the agreed defense spending targets but investing smartly in capabilities that bolster our collective strength and deterrence. The 2% GDP defense spending benchmark must not be just a goal but a reality for all member states. This also means conducting more joint exercises, sharing intelligence, and aligning our strategies and doctrines. Easier said than done, but necessary nonetheless.

Secondly, Strengthening our Eastern Flank: Our Eastern member states are the most exposed to Russian aggression. We must augment their defense and deterrence capabilities. This could include the pre-positioning of NATO forces and equipment, boosting our rapid response capabilities, and assisting in modernizing their military forces.

Lastly, Embrace the New Battlefield: We live in a world where conflict extends beyond the conventional. Cyber threats, disinformation campaigns, hybrid warfare — these are the weapons of the modern adversary. We must invest heavily in our cyber defense capabilities, counter-disinformation efforts, and our ability to identify and respond to hybrid threats.

Remember, we must not let fear or provocation drive us to unnecessary conflict.

The goal is not to fight a war with Russia but to deter aggression and protect our democratic values. We must keep open channels of communication and dialogue with Russia, addressing our concerns firmly, but diplomatically. As we navigate this complex security landscape, we must always aim for a future where peace, respect for sovereignty, and adherence to international laws are the norm, not the exception.”

In conclusion, standing strong, united, and resilient is the NATO way, a creed not unlike the one I’ve lived as a SEAL.

Remember, it’s not about flexing military muscle or sparking conflict, but about preserving peace and protecting our shared democratic values. That’s the mission. As we adapt to new challenges, we remain committed to the principle that binds us as an alliance — an attack against one is an attack against all. Together, we are an impenetrable force. I have faith in the strength of unity, in the power of preparation, and in the strategic thinking that defines us.

In the face of adversity, strong leadership is not just necessary; it’s the very backbone of success. Let that sink as we look at the coming Presidential election in the US.

If we’re to implement the above plan effectively, it requires a US President and European Union leaders with the courage to steer this ship, the resilience to weather any storm, and the vision to see beyond the horizon. Leaders who not only understand the gravity of the challenge but can inspire collective effort to overcome it.