On 3 December, YPFP Brussels held a NATO-sponsored North Atlantic Council (NAC) simulation over half a day. The simulation was created by the Security and Defence Team of YPFP Brussels with the support of Ruben Diaz-Plaja, Senior Policy Advisor, Policy Planning Unit, NATO HQ. Mr Diaz-Plaja also played the role of the Secretary General during the simulation. Matteo Tomasina, Deputy Director of Security and Defence, YPFP Brussels, played the role of the Secretary of the Council. The simulation was opened by Marija Sulce, Director of Security and Defence, YPFP Brussels, who also played the role of the intelligence briefer.
During the simulation, each of the participants were given the chance to represent a NATO member state in a NAC meeting in a fictional scenario. The participants were sent some details about the scenario in advance as well as information about how the NAC works, the Washington Treaty, and overall information about NATO’s decision making as preparation. The event started with Mr Diaz-Plaja giving a short reminder of NAC’s decision making process.
Then, the simulation was divided into a formal NAC negotiation, an informal consultation, and another formal negotiation, including drafting time. The goal of the simulation was to have the NAC approve a statement about the fictional attack that had happened.
The scenario of the simulation was based on a fictional terrorist cyber attack against the city of Naples. The premise of the NAC meeting was that Italy had called for Article 4 consultations under the Washington Treaty. During the negotiations, another fictional attack took place, forcing the delegates to think fast on their feet and reevaluate their positions. The terrorist organisation also had potential connections to a fictional state.
This scenario was chosen to show the participants that cyber attacks are treated as real attacks by the Alliance, but it also allowed to explore the questions of attribution, country-sponsored terrorism, ability to track and counter cyber attacks, and the difficulty of responding to hybrid threats. The simulation concluded in an approved NAC statement and all participants were pleased with the outcome of the deliberations. Nevertheless, everyone agreed that reaching a consensus takes a lot of work and creativity.
Overall, the simulation proved to be a very practical way to illustrate how NATO works and makes decisions. All participants were very pleased with the exercise and agreed that following the simulation they understand much better how NATO functions, how negotiations take place, and what the opportunities and constraints are within a consensus-based organization.