Speaking at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Jones underscored the need for the council and NATO to continue adjusting to the modern security climate.
“To be blunt, the institutions and approaches that we forged together through the 20th century are still adjusting to meet the realities of the 21st century,” he said. “The world has definitely changed, but we have not changed with it.”
Jones, a retired Marine general who President Barack Obama tapped to head the NSC, said the symmetric and conventional global security arrangement that existed during the Cold War has yielded to a host of broad and diverse challenges. Threats now encompass the realms of economics, energy, asymmetric warfare, narco-terrorism and weapons proliferation, which are exacerbated by porous borders and a more rapid pace of life.
“It is hard to overstate the differences between the 20th and the 21st centuries,” he said.
Jones said the president’s national and international security approach identifies the following key problems:
— Terror and extremism have taken many lives on many continents across the globe;
— The ongoing struggle in Afghanistan and the activity along the Pakistani border is an international security challenge of the highest order;
— The spread of nuclear, chemical, biological and cyber-technologies that could upset the global order and cause catastrophe on an unimaginable scale is real and is pressing;
— Overdependence on fossil fuels endangers security, economies and the health of the planet;
— Protracted tribal, ethnic and religious conflicts constitute a major concern;
— Poverty, corruption and disease stand in the way of progress and cause great suffering in many parts of the world;
— Narco-terrorism provides the economic fuel for insurgencies; and
— An economic crisis erodes the foundations of strength.
“To move forward, we must understand the terms national security and international security are no longer limited to the ministries of defense and foreign ministries,” Jones said, referring to the era in which the strategic environment was “fairly consistent and predictable.”
Accordingly, Jones said, he plans to model the NSC after Obama’s desire for the United States to use balance and integrate all elements of national influence. These include military, diplomacy, the U.S. economy and intelligence, law enforcement, cultural outreach and moral leadership.
“Given this role, the NSC is, by definition, at the nexus of that effort,” he said. “It integrates on a strategic sense all elements of our national security community towards the development of effective policy development and interagency cooperation.”
Jones said the NSC’s mission is to perform the functions that it alone can perform, serving as a strategic center for the president’s priorities. To achieve this end, he said, the council must be strategic, highly coordinated, transparent, agile and adaptive.
Jones, a former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, said international partnerships must change to adapt to modern-day challenges, and NATO must become more essential to the collective security of its partners.
“We know that NATO is a strong alliance, perhaps the strongest the world has ever known,” he said. Its capacity does not just come from the strength of its arms, he explained, but from the enduring democratic values that bind its nations together and from the commitment that ensures collective security.
“But I also know this: NATO must also change,” he continued. “It needs to become less reactive and more proactive. I think it needs to become less rigid and more flexible. It needs to become less stationary and more expeditionary.”
Jones said NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan poses an enormous task for the alliance, and that Obama is working closely with NATO, Afghan and Pakistani officials to forge a comprehensive strategy.
“Given the nexus of terror and extremism, drugs and proliferation, we cannot afford failure in Afghanistan,” he said.