NATO has unveiled an operations blueprint for the next decade that expands the defense organization's mandate to include counter-terrorism, the war in Afghanistan and missile defense.
The draft document, released Monday, says NATO for the first time must be ready for counter-insurgencies outside the territory of its 28 member-states.
In presenting the plan (in Brussels), NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance "may have to go beyond our borders to defend our borders."
The document also says the alliance should focus on improving relations with Russia, which has supported NATO by opening Russian airspace and ground supply routes from Europe to Afghanistan.
The new document also focuses on the threat of cyber-attacks and the perceived threat posed by Iran's fledgling ballistic missile capability. It says missile defense is most effective as a joint enterprise between the alliance and its partners, including Russia.
It also says NATO should continue to maintain a secure and reliable nuclear arsenal, at what it calls the minimum level required by the prevailing security environment.
Rasmussen is expected to submit the new strategic concepts document for approval at the alliance's next summit, set for Lisbon in November.
The previous strategic NATO plan focused mainly on the grouping's peacekeeping role in places like Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
That plan, adopted in 1999, was endorsed nearly two years before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States.
The Afghan war, triggered by those attacks, is the largest mission ever attempted by the alliance, which was founded in 1949 to counter threats from the former Soviet Union.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.