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2. A dynamic strategic environment of the 21st century.
3. Opportunities / Chances of the security environment
4. Categories of challenges, risks and threats
a) Conventional Risks and Threats
b) Non-conventional and asymmetric risks and threats
c) Risks and Threats from Natural, Industrial and Human Factors
d) Emerging Security Challenges
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Abstract. Does Albania have more or fewer risks and threats than 20 years ago? Which of them are decreasing and which are expected to increase? Which of them are internal, which are external, and which are trans-national? Which of them can come from state actors and which from non-state groups? What risks come as a result of globalization, what as a result of membership in international security structures, what as a consequence of regional ethnic issues, and what as a result of re-emergence of traditional risks? Further, what are the risks defined as new security challenges that our country can not avoid? And, last but not least, what are the risks coming as a result of the forces of nature, or caused by human or industrial disasters?
No doubt, the security environment is not a question of only threats, risks and challenges. The national and regional security environment will be incomplete, without including the positive opportunities and chances it offers. Only based on this analytical approach, the security environment can be evaluated as a coin with two sides, in order to have a realistic assessment.
Security environment is the barometer for the development of security institutions. The expectations of the security environment are the foundation of the National Security Strategy, the Military Strategy, and the Joint Doctrine of AAF. This article serves precisely the efforts currently being made for the formulation of these documents.
Key words: security environment, challenges, risks and threats, chances and opportunities, national security, regional challenges, national emergencies, new security challenges, NATO and EU integration, policy, strategy and doctrine, etc.
My sincere thanks go to Prof. Ruzhdi Gjatoja (Maj.Gen (R) for his advice and valuable thoughts related to specific aspects of this case study.
The introduction part of this article is of a philosophical nature. Is there any precise prediction on the global security environment for the coming decade? Can trends or cycles of history serve as a basis to predict the developments of the history? Can we predict all possible scenarios or their combinations? If yes, how can we influence, and if not, what can we do?
Confucius says that "those who do not know the past can not predict the future" and Churchill says that "he who does not learn from the mistakes of history is destined to repeat them again." Of course, the teaching of history is necessary, but it is impossible that through history and any analysis that embraces human thought, we can accurately predict the future, as claimed in the 100 prophecies of Nostradamus.
The latest study of "Multiple Future Projects", which engaged over 400 scientists and analysts of various fields concluded that "it is true that we can not accurately predict what might happen in a specific time many years ahead, but we can understand the trend of development of events, and we can give an impact to the best interests we promote ".
According to the scientific analysis, it is already recognized that human kind is almost impossible to exactly predict the events of history, but great leaders can give an impact to the course of history. Decision-making, especially at crucial historical moments, are of great importance in the history of mankind and nations. Otherwise, they will fall victims of the philosophical expression of "Alice in Wonderland", regarding the terms of the famous rhetorical question "if I do not know where to go, any road will lead you there ".
2. A dynamic strategic environment of the 21st century.
The evolution of the strategic security environment is a crucial factor for shaping the approaches of security and defense institutions. In times of a growing globalization, with a new political geometry, many demographic and environmental changes, together with a rapid development of technology, it is expected that the next decade will frame a further dynamic security environment.
Unlike conventional threats of last century, the 21st century began with the new risks and threats to civilization, democracy and human rights. The 9/11, 2001, was a 'Pearl Harbor' of the modern era; it shocked the minds of the civilians and military of all NATO countries, serving as a catalyst for the beginning of a post-industrial revolution in military affairs. In this context, the U.S. Secretary for Defense Policy Douglas J. Feith states that "... we are not faced with relatively predictable threats of the Cold War, on the contrary, we have entered a phase of uncertainty and surprise...; What we can anticipate today is that we will face unpredicted challenges tomorrow, with a wide spectrum of opponents - some of them known and many others unknown 3"
Global security environment in the last two decades has undergone profound changes. Irregularity and asymmetry are replacing regularity and symmetry. Future security trends are associated with a world of irregular developments. Factors and new priorities are replacing old priority factors. The yesterday’s capabilities appear to be less useful in today's operations, while the today’s capabilities will most likely be less useful in tomorrow’s operations.
As an ally country, despite the significant reduction of the weight, scale, and intensity of risks and threats to the country, we experience an increase in numerical terms. Albania, like other member countries, is now sharing all risks and threats affecting the Alliance as a whole and each of its 27 other countries in terms of their specific circumstances. So the map of risks and threats to the security of Albania, along with internal non-military risks and threats, reflects what security of the Alliance carries out as a whole, expressed in its Core Tasks of the Strategic Security Concept.
Also, while shaping the security environment one should bear in mind that risks, threats or opportunities may have a difference in different regions of the Alliance, especially when comparing inland countries with countries in the periphery. Some risks and threats for a specific country or region may be of primary importance and for some others they may not. In this context, in my opinion the Joint Doctrine of AAF should reflect a realistic and creative approach in the identification of the spectrum of the risks and threats to the Republic of Albania (RoA), which require both the use of military power and engagement of other components of national power, in the three security situations: peace, crisis and war.
3. Opportunities/ Chances of the security environment
Unlike the traditional way of the "half empty" glass, which provides a pessimistic assessment of the regional security environment starting with risks and threats, I think that we may have a different approach of the "half full" glass, by initially addressing the chances and opportunities of this new security environment under an optimistic view.
Our country and the Balkan region have now a security map much more favorable than 10-20 years ago. The breakup of the former Yugoslavia created new states. The map of direct territorial neighboring countries to the RoA has undergone positive quantitative and qualitative changes. Likewise, our country's security is significantly favored by the presence of the Albanian population in direct neighboring states. This opportunity that should be used by all countries in the region to build bridges of cooperation between our countries and peoples.
Expectations are for a further improvement of the present security climate. Newly born states, despite the challenges of development, are making progress based on the fundamental principles of the rule of law, multi-party democracy, free market economy and respect for human rights and minorities. Spirit of old confrontation between states is being more and more replaced by the spirit of the new cooperation and competition. The presence of NATO, EU and other organizations in the region will continue to be a positive factor for the establishment of a lasting peace and stability in the region.
Our region now consists of allied, aspirant or partner countries with NATO or the EU. Security and defense reforms of the countries in the region are not following intentions or promoting goals for conventional confrontation with each other. The main objective of the regional countries’ security sector reform is their defence and security in the context of collective defense and security. This is reflected through the development of small professional forces with mainly defensive capabilities, under the control of related national civil authorities.
Types of regional cooperation have been and are expected to have a broader extension in the political, economic, and security area. As never before, we have established common regional units, participated in joint international operations, provided mutual assistance in civil emergencies, and other various formats of cooperation, etc. This cooperation is expected to extend in other areas in the context of a regional 'Smart Defense' initiative under development.
In this emerging security environment of 21st century, Albania is completely open and active in the process of regional and global cooperation. It supports the concept of ' common/shared security' as the best option for today and for the future. Albania is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and is making efforts to become a member of the European Union (EU). It is an active member of many regional initiatives, such as: Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP); Regional Cooperation Council (RCC); Central European Initiative (CEI); Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) ; Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC); Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII); Regional Arm Control and Verification (RACVIAC); Partnership of Adriatic Charter (A-5); Southeast Europe Defense Ministerial (SEDM), as well as participation in Southeast Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG), etc.
Under a realistic view, our regional security environment has never been more favorable than now. This current situation should be carefully managed, both chances and opportunities and the new challenges, risks and threats.
4. Categories of challenges, risks and threats
Besides the above mentioned chances and opportunities, the Balkan security environment is expected to be a dynamic environment in terms of risks, threats and security challenges. On one hand, we see many threats, risks and challenges in decline, and on the other hand, there are many others arising.
Rightfully, this is mentioned in the first paragraph of the new Strategic Concept 2010, which states "... the next phase of NATO's evolution in order for it to remain effective in a changing world, to new threats, new capabilities, and new partners" . Such a thing should be also expressed in our strategic documents, as well as in the RoA's Joint Doctrine.
According to the Joint Doctrine AJP-1 (D) of the Alliance already ratified by our country, which is the main doctrine for AAF multinational operations, in terms of the nature of their protagonist positions "... the opponents of the Alliance are grouped in nation states, groups within states, as well as non-actor - states". I believe this general statement should be a central points of our Joint Doctrine, being specifically articulated to our particular case.
Based on this approach, I think that potential risks and threats to the RoA, as an ally country, now and in the future, taking into account the full range of national, regional and global security, may be classified into 4 main categories: 1) conventional risks and threats; 2) non-conventional and asymmetric risks and threats; 3) risks and threats from natural, industrial and human factors; 4) and risks and threats identified as 'emerging security challenges'.
a) Conventional Risks and Threats
These risks and threats, otherwise referred to as classic or traditional threats, are risks and threats arising from countries/alliances to other countries/alliances. They include aggressions and attacks performed by a country or a group of countries against our country or the Alliance aiming at the violation of territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of our country or other allied countries.
At global level, conventional risks and threats have significantly decreased, and the chances are that they have a further reduction. Alliance's conventional military superiority will most likely discourage any conventional military aggression at strategic level to the Alliance, its members, or areas of strategic interest. Although the low probability of occurrence of conventional type threats in and around the Euro-Atlantic area in the near and medium term, this ... 'does not exclude the possibility that these types of threats to be developed in the longer term'.
At regional level, from the conventional perspective, our country has today a security map much more favorable than 10-20 years ago. Albania has no intentions to forcibly annexing the territories of neighboring states, as well as we see that neighboring states have not such purposes in their defense policies. I also observe that the security and defence reforms of our regional countries do not support objectives for a conventional confrontation with each other.
Although conventional risks and threats to our country are less likely to occur in the medium term, this does not mean that they should be underestimated. The Joint Doctrine should be sensitive and reflect timely responses to potential changes in security and military strategies of the countries that could pose threats to our country.
In this context, even if such threats evolve with unprecedented speed, Albania and its Armed Forces are prepared to respond in the context of Article 5 of the collective defense of the Alliance, combined with Allied plans in order to meet their constitutional mission. Preparation, equipment and training of the AAF in peacetime, to deal with external aggression, are crucial for the future of the country.
Apart from direct state to state confrontation, the current and the perspective security environment reveals that the clash of ethnic groups, of cultural, ideological, religious or other configurations groups that cross national borders, could be a permanent threat to regional and international security. "... Ethnic rivalries, political and religious disputes over vital resources, unsuccessful or failed reforms, human rights abuse, and the dissolution of states can lead to local and regional instability."
Albania will participate with relevant civil and military capabilities in regional and global crisis response operations, taking place before, during or after various conflicts in regions considered of strategic importance for our country's security, the Alliance, or other international security organizations.
b) Non-conventional and asymmetric risks and threats
Such threats and risks are mainly designed when confrontation is between nation states, on one hand, and non-governmental adversaries, on the other hand. These risks and threats can be favored, among other things, by the growing globalization, demographic changes, cultural frictions, prevalence of advanced technology, democratic developments and increased transparency to civil society, crises of various natures, failed states, rise of extremist groups, insurgency movements of various characters, combined hybrid threats, corruption, illegal trafficking or organized crime.
During the last 20 years, in addition to the reduction of the set of traditional risks and threats to the Alliance, we have also a significant expansion of non-traditional spectrum of asymmetric and hybrid risks, which are expected to recognize new developments during the 21st century. "Opponents of the Alliance today are smaller, more numerous, more sophisticated and more difficult to be identified or anticipated. They have the advantage to change quickly and select the striking asymmetric "weapon", to the key weaknesses of allies".
The achievement of the objectives with asymmetric approaches, by our opponents and those of the Alliance, will most likely become a widespread experience in the next decade. These non-state adversaries will grow nationally, regionally and internationally. To achieve their objectives, they will have different natural, cultural, and ideological goals, and will use more sophisticated forms, most destabilizing means and media effects to shape the public opinion.
The existence of certain groups in a neighboring country that propagate the annexation of parts of our country’s territory, secessionist movements, etc., in certain cases, could lead to covert or open operations to violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country, with or without the use of violence. Their danger would be even greater if certain individuals and groups are supported by failed states, which for different reasons seek to transfer their opponents, problems and crises abroad.
Protection of constitutional order is one of the main areas of the constitutional mission of the armed forces. Violation of the constitutional order may come in different forms. It can stem from unrests in the country originated by non-functional aspects of rule of law, collapse of constitutional institutions by force or intimidation to achieve certain objectives or political favors, etc., organized by specific groups of extremists of various national and international natures. In this context, the participation of certain units of the AAF in operations for the protection of the constitutional order, in coordination with other security institutions, is of particular importance.
Terrorism will remain a challenge to states and international security organizations in the 21st century. Asymmetric opponents have become more numerous, smaller in size and more unpredictable in tactics and strategies. They use the strategy and tactics of irregular formations, sometimes surprising even the most sophisticated military forces. Moreover, they always have the advantage to choose the right weapon and time to hit "... the weakest link in the security chain of a country. The situation is asymmetric because the protector should protect and cover all possible strike points, while the attacker need only identify the weakest point to focus its efforts and cause significant damages".
Used by opponents, asymmetric threats should be evaluated and faced with new methods, different from those of conventional war with clear rules based on the law of war. Asymmetry is mainly expressed in three elements: the nature of the identification and localization of adversary; the nature of his ideals and objectives; and the non-conventional methods to achieve a qualitative and quantitative advantage.
Albania is a small allied country, and it may not be the preferred target of international terrorism, compared with other major allied countries, where media effects of public opinion are more sensitive. This does not mean that the AAF will be indifferent to the preparation against terrorism; they will engage in the Alliance's response to international terrorism, while at the national level, they will have a supportive role to the internal security structures.
AAF can be also engaged in a number of scenarios and situations of national planning, operation conducted on their own or by other law enforcement institutions. These scenarios may include, among others, the neutralization of terrorist attacks against facilities of special importance (ports, airports, hydroelectric power plants, power grids, tunnels, stadiums, meeting' facilities, etc.). Also, management of 'Renegade' situations or hijacking of aircraft, ships, trains, etc, control of territorial waters from illegal activities, control of airspace and air policing in coordination with NATINADS system (NATO Integrated Air Defense System), etc.
Also, different type of crises can accelerate activities of extremist groups with the support of national, regional and global organizations. AAF will be neutral to resolve crises of political, economic, financial and social nature, and become a constitutional actor to support a political solution. The armed forces will never intervene to solve a political, economic or social crisis will military means.
Non-conventional risks can come from demographic changes between the developing world and the developed world. Risks resulting from the need of survival of human communities for a better life and jobs will be increased. Poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world can considerably affect the continued growth of tension in the global security environment. Issues of hunger and reduction of water resources will continue to be a serious problem for different parts of the developing world. These phenomena may have effects on our country and our Armed Forces, in terms of participation in economic development programs or crisis management missions.
Non-state actors are part of society and should be treated as such. It is important that security institutions identify these actors with radical goals and use violence in achieving them. We should take into consideration that the individuals or groups from different backgrounds may seek to neutralize targets of the state and its institutions. Cases of individuals’ types or groups that can be described as ‘lonely wolves' or 'wild flocks ' may be an additional risk to the future security environment.
c) Risks and Threats from Natural. Industrial and Human Factors
These risks and threats of a civil emergency nature are likely to increase in the future security environment with environmental changes, climate changes and technological developments. These are the unintentional risks arising from natural causes or negligence of human and industrial cases. In order to face these challenges, the military component will support the central; and local civilian authorities, when the size of the consequences exceed the capabilities of civil authorities.
Risks of natural, industrial and human origins are generally identifiable. They are a vital part of the historical and geographical areas of the country according to the characteristics of natural, industrial or other specific issues, identified in historic years, decades, and often centuries. Training to contribute to the operations according to contingency plans is essential. Natural risks should also bear in mind the effects of global warming and their climate changes.
Particular risks and threats of natural, industrial and human nature include: earthquakes, floods, and avalanches of snow blocks, massive fires, major landslides, etc, as well as major industrial accidents or caused by man: exploding ammunition depots; air, maritime and land accidents in high density populated areas, elimination of major land, sea and air environmental pollution of country, as well as infective diseases of different types, etc.
In order to face these risks and threats, the Armed Forces support the state institutions having a lead role. AAF will cooperate during the peace time with these institutions, to update plans for specific situations, as well as conduct of joint exercises.
d) Emerging Security Challenges
Among potential risks to the security and defence of Alliance countries, including our own country, are the risk called Emerging Security Challenges. Among them, we can mention: the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); development of ballistic missile capabilities outside of the Alliance; increase of terrorist activities with sophisticated weapons and equipments; cyber attacks, hybrid threats, challenges to energy security, scarce resources; maritime piracy, etc.
Many of these challenges are as the result of our country’s participation in collective security and defense, and as such, they will be handled in this context. Compared with major allies, these risks might have limited impact on the country and AAF, but they do not exclude the possibilities that, in certain circumstances, have an increase in their intensity. The following is a list of these challenges:
d-1. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Proliferation of WMD (nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological) and the means of their release outside the Alliance constitute a major threat to global security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, especially when efforts of possession and proliferation are made by rogue states or terrorist organizations and criminals. Also, 'lethal weapons that cause slow death, as well as other weapons are lethal electromagnetic pulse weapons and radiological weapons of chemicals with carcinogenic effects may result with a greater access in the future.
d-2. Ballistic missile attacks. Till now, more than 30 countries outside the Alliance are able to produce or buy assault land systems, high quality naval air defense, guided ballistic missiles and other advanced weaponry. Some of these countries are adversaries the alliance. In this context, as part of the Alliance, Albania will support the initiatives of missile defense in the territories and allied populations, which may require the allocation of costs for anti-missile systems or participation with staff personnel.
d-3. Sophisticated terrorism. Terrorism is expected to be further sophisticated from state actors, non-state actors, and in some cases, in close coordination with state actors. Strike of large civil and military aircraft; shoulder- fired missile attacks; attacks against shipping ports by surface equipment or underwater equipments; hitting airports, aircraft and helicopters with rifle grenades systems; using improvised explosive devices (IED); suicide attack in populated environments, smashing infrastructure of national and international importance, etc., are some of the current and future sophisticated terrorist methods.
d-4. Cyber attacks. Increase of reliance and dependence on Alliance in communication and information systems has created a vulnerability to cyber attacks, which can damage the NATO's superiority in conventional armaments. Cyber attacks are asymmetric attacks leading to irreversible damage to systems, networks and national information infrastructure, economy, banking, business, air traffic, maritime and land surveillance systems, etc . Expectations are that the threats of cyber attacks against our country and AAF may be increasing in the coming years.
d-5. Hybrid threats. There are threats that include the combination of a large number of methods of warfare, including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and strength, terrorist acts and violent nature of intimidation, criminal and anarchic actions performed by state actors and a number of non-state actors. Future conflicts will be characterized by a mixture of many forms of war along the broad spectrum of conflict. "Hybrid threats can not be initiated only by the use of the military instrument; they will require a comprehensive approach, supported by information operations"  . AAF units are expected to be affected in their operations, especially those of multinational nature, to be under the effects of hybrid threats.
d-6. Negative effects of globalization. Besides the positive effects, increasing globalization and new political geometry has favored the development of existing or emerging risks, including acts of terrorism, sabotage, organized crime and illegal trafficking, especially the spread of high security hazardous materials, as well as various piracies. These risks that include all non-state actors to carry out illegal activities become particularly dangerous when backed openly or secretly by state actors or failed states.
d-7. Energy security. Energy security and scarse natural resources are becoming one of the future challenges of global, regional and national security. Our country will be more and more a part of regional and international networks of energy, such as TAP project, where the role of the AAF is expected to be on the rise. There is a fundamental difference between NATO Energy Security Concept of the Cold War, based solely on the supply of fuel, and the today’s concept of Allied energy security. NATO's role in energy security and scarce resources is still evolving and the position of our country will be in accordance with the position of the Alliance.
d-8. Maritime piracy. Maritime piracy has been a crime since the ancient history. Today and in the future, civil ships of allied countries or other countries are and will be the subject of modern piracy. Today’s piracy has increased in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, but it can be further extended in other regions. These attacks can undermine humanitarian efforts and road safety of global trade communication. NATO is committed and will continue to engage in these operations. Our country and the AAF will have modest engagement in operations against maritime piracy. In addition to maritime piracy, an important place is expected to overtake our country's commitment to respect the conventions and laws against sea slavery (UNCLOS).
Risks and threats to the security environment of the Republic of Albania as an Allied country will significantly influence the development of AAF capabilities and the scope of their operations in the short and midterm.
Despite the risks and threats coming from nation states, linked with Article 5, which remain at the center of the Alliance's Strategic Concept, the future security environment is expected to be dominated by risks and threats coming from groups within states, non-state actors, natural, industrial and human factors, as well as those coming from emerging security challenges.
I think that, despite the fact that we are an allied country, not all allied countries are affected equally by the whole broad spectrum of threats and risks of the future security environment. Some may be more affected by specific risks, some less, and vice versa. Despite the common things of collective security, each country has its own specifics. This article provided a national approach of the risks and threats, as well as the chances and opportunities to the Republic of Albania as an allied country, in our specific region and geopolitical situation, history and unique culture.
This study of the security environment can serve as an alternative approach of the assessment of security environment of new National Security Strategy, Military Strategy and Joint Doctrine of Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania.
- Aleance Strategic Concept, Lisbon, November 2010.
- Multiple Future Project, 2009 Edition.
- AJP-1 (D) Allied Joint Doctrine, Edition 2010.
- Colin S. Gray, Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy. University of Reading, England.
- Douglas J. Feith, “Beyond the Cold War- What Next?” Speech at Institute for Defence Analyses,
- R. Gjatoja, Thimi Hudhra, Military Review, March 2011.
- National Security Strategy of the Republic of Albania, January 2005.
- Military Strategy of the Republic of Albania, December 2007.
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 Multiple Future Project, 2009 Edition, page 35.
 Alice in the Wonderland, English edition, 1989, page 23.
 Douglas J. Feith, “Beyond the Cold War-What Next?” Speech at Institute for Defence Analyses, US, August 1994.
 Allied Strategic Concept, approved by heads of states of NATO countries in Lisbon, 20th November, 2010.
 AJP-1 (D) Allied Joint Doctrine, Albanian Edition, p. 31.
 Ibid, p 27.
 Ibid, p 27.
 R. Gjatoja, Thimi Hudhra, Military Review article, March 2011.
 According to International Law, by constitutional rule, we understand “a number of state institutions expressed in constitution and founding basis of their functions, through which basic decision-making process of the state in a precise setting of time”.
 Colin S. Gray, Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy. University of Reading, England, page 14.
 Ibid, p 30.
 According to US Cyber Command, only in 2010 over 6 million cyber acts have been recorded in a day against Pentagon and Defence Ministries of allied countries. According to Semantic Web 2010, the most targeted sector was the public administration where 1 in every 35.8 emails are blocked by malware viruses12; more than 40% of middle business companies have had serious problems and 75% of them believe that crashes of database may make business fail. According to McFee, October 2010, virus ‘Stuxnet’ was ID as the first virus that can destroy the whole infrastructure of power plants and industrial companies. According to Alliances data, during 2010 it had to face a huge number of malware attacks daily.
- Quote paper
- Thimi Hudhra (Author), 2018, Prepare Today for what we will face Tomorrow. An Albanian Perspective of Future Security Environment, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/425410