A NATO-Ukraine Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) Trust Fund delegation visited the NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence (NATO C2COE) on 7 March at the Kromhout Barracks in Utrecht.
The NATO-Ukraine C4 Trust Fund was established at the 2014 NATO Wales Summit. It aims to improve the C4 capabilities of Ukraine while at the same time improving interoperability between NATO and Ukraine. One of the identified projects that supports the Trust Fund is the Knowledge Sharing project. Within this project, Ukraine is provided with information and hands-on support to improve their C2 within and between its national security forces. The C2 structures, methods and lessons learned used by NATO and NATO Nations are extremely valuable to Ukraine as they are still hampered by traditional approaches to C2 that stem from the Soviet era.
With that as a background, the NATO Headquarters Consultation, Command and Control (HQ C3) Staff requested the Director of the NATO C2COE to host the NATO-Ukraine C4 Trust Fund, provide briefings and facilitate discussions regarding C2. The Ukrainian part of the delegation visiting the Centre was led by Major General Rapko, Chief of the Main Directorate for Communication and Information systems (J6) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In addition to the Ukrainian participants, interpreters and representatives from the NATO HQ C3 Staff were part of the delegation.
In addition to a presentation given by Major General Rapko discussing the Ukrainian C4 structures, the Director of the NATO C2COE, Captain Renée van Pamelen-Hollenberg, gave a command brief focusing on NATO COEs in general, as well as more specific information on the NATO C2COE and its contributions to the continuous transformation of NATO. Furthermore, Major Twan Verbaten from the NATO C2COE provided an insightful briefing on current NATO C2 challenges with recommendations for solutions.
Much of the day also focused on informal round-table discussions. The Ukrainian delegation focused on the technical aspects of C2, and the Centre supplemented the discussions with the human interoperability aspects of C2, which we often find are being undervalued when C2 is discussed.
After the meeting, initial discussions were held between the NATO C2COE Director and the representatives from the NATO HQ C3 Staff, focusing on opportunities to intensify the cooperation between the NATO-Ukraine C4 Trust Fund and the NATO C2COE. The NATO C2COE is planning to be more active and improve its visibility outside Allied Command Transformation and a future cooperation with the NATO HQ C3 Staff and the NATO-Ukraine C4 Trust Fund could be an opportunity to gain that effect.
The visit was successful and highly appreciated by all involved. This appreciation was also acknowledged by the Director of the NATO HQ C3 Staff through his letter of appreciation to the Centre.