STUTTGART, Germany — NATO has created a division to put increased focus on predicting where new threats could surface against the 28-nation alliance.

The Emerging Security Challenges Division, launched earlier this month at NATO headquarters in Brussels, is meant to bring more attention to threats such as terrorism and piracy as well as attacks on cyber and energy security, according to NATO.

In the case of energy security, NATO will be working with government and non-government agencies to find ways to protect energy infrastructure. Among the risks today: vulnerable oil tankers in pirate-infested waters.

“We’re looking into intelligence-sharing with energy issues. It’s not like we’re sending troops anywhere. It’s a very partner-oriented job,” said a NATO official who is newly appointed to the division and spoke on background. “Although when you look at the piracy issue, it can have a military dimension.”

NATO is among several international organizations providing war ships to patrol the waters off the coast of Somalia, where many pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and beyond originate.

Countering the roadside bomb threat in Afghanistan, protecting information from cyber assaults and weapons proliferation are all areas where the new division is expected to play a role.

The emerging threats division, which includes about 35 analysts, will require the alliance to improve how it communicates with other organizations, which historically has been a weakness within NATO’s massive bureaucracy.

“The idea was to find a place where emerging security challenges are being dealt with in a more efficient way,” said the NATO official.

The division also comes at a time when NATO leadership is rethinking its role in the world. In November, NATO members will gather for an annual summit in Lisbon, where the alliance is expected to update its 10-year-old Strategic Concept—a document that outlines NATO’s purpose and approach to security challenges.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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