NATO Procurements

AuthorSteven Hill, David P. Goodwin, Christine Minarich, Jeremy Wilson, Susan B. Cassidy, and Kelly Ryan
Chapter 10
NATO Procurements
Steven Hill, David P. Goodwin, Christine Minarich, Jeremy Wilson, Susan B. Cassidy, and Kelly
I. Executive Summary
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance of
twenty-nine (29) North American and European countries that have joined together to pursue
shared security and defense.1 In an era of a shrinking US defense budget and increasing demands
on NATO, US contractors are increasingly considering the pursuit of NATO contracts. The
diversity of NATO members, however, creates a diversity of buyers and procurement methods.
There is no single set of procurement rules for NATO and no single source of funding. Thus,
unlike US procurements, the rules applicable to a particular procurement will vary considerably
and US contractors need to understand the sp ecific rules and requirements of the opportunity
they are pursuing.
This chapter provides a high-level overview of NATO and some of the procurement
methods and issues that contractors will face as they pursue opportunities at NATO. Importantly,
US law likely will not govern contracts resulting from NATO procurements. Thus, to fully
evaluate the risks and benefits to pursuing any NATO procurement, prime contractors should
consult with appropriate international counsel who can provide guidance as to the appropriate
interpretation of specific contract terms.
II. Substantive Legal Framework of NATO Procurements
A. What Is NATO?
NATO is a political-military alliance founded, as the preamble to the 1949 North Atlantic
Treaty puts it, to “safeguard the freedom, common heritage, and civilization of their peoples,
founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.”2 There are
currently twenty-nine NATO Allies, although NATO works with a wide range of other partners.
The North Atlantic Treaty provides that “an armed attack against one or more of [the
twenty-nine Allies] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”
and sets forth an obligation of each Ally to “assist the [p]arty or [p]arties so attacked by taking . .
. such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the
security of the North Atlantic area.3 Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty establishes the North
Atlantic Council (NAC) where decisions are reached through consultation and require
consensus; no votes are taken and the Council speaks with one voice.4
The NAC consists of permanent representatives of the twenty-nine Allied Nations and is
chaired by NATO’s secretary general. The states comprising the NAC form the North Atlantic
Alliance and are distinct from the institutional structure they created to fulfill the aims of the
TreatyNATO.5 NATO possesses an international legal personality to enter into a wide variety
of international agreements, as do the two strategic military commandsAllied Command
Operations (ACO), based at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Commander Europe, in Mons,
Belgium, and Allied Command Transformation (ACT), based in Norfolk, Virginia.
NATO conducts major procurements through two subsidiary bodies of the NACthe
NATO Procurement and Support Organization (NSPO) and the NATO Communications and
Information Organization (NCIO). They have different missions: the NSPO’s mission focuses on

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