Director Communications, SHAPE
Mark Laity has been involved with the media, information and latterly Strategic Communication (StratCom) for over three decades, both as a journalist, mostly with the BBC, and then in a variety of posts as a spokesman and senior manager for NATO.
He is now the Director of the new Communications Division at SHAPE, created in 2017. Previously, from 2007, he had been the first Chief StratCom at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe), and the leading figure in first establishing and then developing StratCom within NATO, especially the military. His office led the creation of NATO’s innovative Military StratCom policy and now oversees its implementation and further development in NATO operations.
The StratCom post followed nine months in Afghanistan (2006-2007) as the NATO Spokesman in Kabul and Media Adviser to the ISAF Commander. For his service in Afghanistan Mr Laity was awarded NATO’s Meritorious Service Medal. He has since complete two further tours in Afghanistan. Prior to this he was the first civilian Chief of Public Information at SHAPE.
From 2000, Mark Laity was for four years the Special Adviser to the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, and also NATO’s Deputy Spokesman. He had a wide variety of policy and media roles, including a year as NATO spokesman. With civil war looming, in 2001 he was sent to what is now North Macedonia as personal adviser to the Macedonian President at the time. When a NATO military force was deployed, he became the Media Adviser to the commander and civilian spokesman for the successful Operation Essential Harvest.
Mark Laity joined NATO after 22 years in journalism, mostly in the BBC, including 11 years as the BBC’s Defence Correspondent. He reported from the frontlines of most major conflicts of the nineties, but particularly the break-up of Yugoslavia and the Gulf war in 1990-91.
Mr Laity holds a BA (Hons) and MA from the University of York, England. He is an Associate Fellow at the King’s Centre for Strategic Communications (KCSC), King’s College London.
Since the beginning of 2019 Russia has embraced a more aggressive rhetoric towards NATO, the European Union, and Western leaders. The Kremlin communicates its narratives both to domestic audiences via state-controlled media, and to international audiences via Kremlin-backed outlets like RT and Sputnik. The West is presented as weak and vulnerable in the face of Russian hybrid threats (from warfighting to cyber aggressions), while at the same time Russia is being framed as a victim of such attacks from the ‘agrressive West’. In this discussion we will analyse what steps should be taken to set us on a desirable path in terms of cyber and digital security policy.