10 Years of Catalysing C2

NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence

10 Years of “Catalysing C2”

“The NATO C2COE supports NATO, nations and international institutions/organisations with subject matter expertise on Command and Control (C2).”

The NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence (NATO C2COE) is an international military organisation designed to permanently and exclusively focus on specific areas of command and control (C2). Specifically at the operational level, the centre works on topics such as C2 processes and structures, information and knowledge management and human factors including leadership.

According to the Surpreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), C2 is one of his six Focus Areas for NATO to maintain readiness and responsiveness. Hence it goes without saying that C2, and the development of C2 expertise, policy, doctrine, concepts and procedures and standards, is of vital importance to NATO. Other than the NATO C2COE, there is no other NATO organisation that focusses exclusively on C2. This, combined with the overarching importance of C2 to NATO, makes the NATO C2COE a unique and vital organisation.

The Netherlands is the so called “Framework Nation” of the NATO C2COE, providing the centre with infrastructure, support resources and the main manning body. On top of that the NATO C2COE is reinforced by seven “Supporting Nations”; Germany, the United States, Estonia, Slovakia, Spain, Norway and Turkey.

On the 5th of September 2017, the NATO C2COE celebrated its 10th anniversary.


NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence 10 Year Timeline:

2002 The NATO C2COE roots all the way back to the Prague Summit in 2002, which is when the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) became responsible for transforming NATO into a leaner and more efficient organisation. This lead to the establishment of a network of so called “Centres of Excellence” within NATO.
2003 The Netherlands offers to establish the C2 Centre of Excellence to NATO in May 2003. The Netherlands has an outstanding track record when it comes to supporting units with modern C2 systems, with three major C2 Expert Centres already in place. As a result, the offer is well received within the NATO community and the first steps to establish the NATO C2COE are taken.
2005 In 2005 the NATO C2COE is informally established under its first director Colonel Ben Vaesen of the Royal Netherlands Army. The centre is set up at the Elias Beeckman Kazerne in Ede, The Netherlands.
2006 The NATO C2COE Concept of Operations (CONOPS) is endorsed by Headquarters SACT  (HQ SACT) in early 2006. Since August 2006, a Dutch national basis of 11 staff is manned and functioning. All services of the Dutch Armed Forces are represented within the centre. Following Colonel Ben Vaesen’s retirement from active duty, Colonel Geerlof Kanis of the Royal Netherlands Army is appointed as the new director of the NATO C2COE. On top of that, in 2006 the centre organises the first C2 seminar, marking the beginning of one of the centre’s flagship activities. The ambition of the seminar is to share important developments on C2 related matters with the C2 Community of Interest.
2007 The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is signed by NATO and the Sponsoring Nations (SN) on the 14th of June 2007, formally establishing the NATO C2COE with The Netherlands as the Framework Nation, and Germany, Norway, Belgium, Slovakia, Turkey and Spain as the first Sponsoring Nations. Subsequently the centre receives NATO accreditation on the 4th of April 2008 .
2008 The centre hosts the “Concept Development & Experimentation” seminar at Thales’ Battlespace Transformation Centre in Huizen, The Netherlands.
2009 In July the NATO C2COE publishes its first edition of the C2 Handbook with the title “NNEC Best Practices Handbook”.
2010 The United States joins the NATO C2COE with one staff officer. Furthermore the centre hosts the 10th “Network Enabled Capabilities” seminar in Ede, The Netherlands. In August the updated version of the the C2 Handbook is published with the title “Command and Control in a Network Enabled Environment”.
2011 The NATO C2COE moves from the Elias Beeckman Kazerne in Ede, to the modern Kromhout Kazerne in the city of Utrecht. Moreover, Colonel Twan Visser of the Royal Netherlands Army is appointed as the centre’s new director. Moreover, the centre hosts the “C2 in a Network Enabled Environment” seminar in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2012 Towards the end of 2012, the NATO C2COE provides HQ SACT with a study into the Information Management, Information Sharing and Staff Processes within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command. This Afghan Mission Network (AMN) study is well received, and remains influential to the development of Federated Mission Networking (FMN) until today. On top of that the centre hosts the “The Impact of Comprehensive Approach on Command and Control” seminar in Ankara, Turkey.
2013 Estonia joins the NATO C2COE with one staff officer. The centre hosts the “New Command & Control Challenges” seminar in Bratislava, Slovakia.
2014 Captain Gerrit Nijenhuis of the Royal Netherlands Navy is appointed as the centre’s new director. The centre hosts the “Exploring C2 in an Information Age” seminar in Tallinn, Estonia in cooperation with the Cooperative Cyber Defence COE (CCDCOE).
2015 The centre hosts the “C2 On The Move” seminar in Den Helder, The Netherlands. The aim of the event is to share experiences from various organisations throughout NATO on the JTF HQ concept in order to identify challenges and discuss potential solutions.
2016 The centre hosts the “C2 in Emerging Warfare” seminar in Norfolk, Virginia, United States. During this seminar the discussion evolved around the consequences for C2 when dealing with modern warfare, such as terrorism, civil unrest or cyber threat. During the seminar Captain Renée van Pamelen-Hollenberg of the Royal Netherlands Navy is presented as the centre’s new director. In November 2016, The NATO Force Structure Joint Task Force Headquarters (NFS JTF HQ) Handbook is published. The handbook is the result of a three-year cooperative effort between the Join Warfare Centre (JWC), the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) and the NATO C2COE. By the end of 2016 Belgium withdraws from the centre due to international obligations of the Belgian Ministry of Defence.
2017 The centre hosts the “C2 in a Civil Environment” seminar in Valencia, Spain. The objective of the seminar is to discuss the C2 difficulties while connecting civil and military organisations and to introduce technical solutions and concepts which are currently being developed to solve interoperability issues.


The centre has come a long way in the past 10 years, and is looking ahead to further develop itself. The centre’s vision is to be a principal source of expertise in the domain of command and control in order to best support the Transformation of NATO. To achieve this, the former director Captain Gerrit Nijenhuis of the Royal Netherlands Navy introduced “The Way Ahead” programme in 2014. In 2017, the focus continues to be on the enhancement of Knowledge Development Processes and strengthening the corporate identity. Moreover, a curious, agile, flexible, supportive, pro-active, exploratory and open mind-set will be encouraged within the centre. This will support the efforts for the upcoming 18 months when working on the theme “The Future of the Command Post” resulting in the 2018 centre’s annual seminar in Berlin, Germany.

On the 5th of September 2017, the NATO C2COE celebrated its 10th anniversary with a festive afternoon at the Kromhout Barrack. The event was attended by former NATO C2COE members, Steering Board members from Supporting Nations and guests from a wide range of backgrounds.

The event kicked off with a brief address by former NATO C2COE director Colonel (Ret.) Geerlof Kanis of the Royal Netherlands Army. The Colonel looked back at the start of the centre, and how a team of pioneers lived up to the challenge and laid the foundations for what is now called the NATO C2COE. The colonel went on by mentioning that the conditions which surrounded the NATO C2COE attracted a special kind of personnel; “entrepreneurs”.


“I personally think that the NATOC2COE survived its start-up period thanks to the freedom and the support grated to us by the Sponsoring Nations and the NATO leadership. I want to thank you again for that opportunity” – Colonel (Ret.) Geerlof Kanis


The address was continued by NATO C2COE director Captain Renée van Pamelen-Hollenberg of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Emphasising on the demand for C2 expertise from within NATO and its allies, the director accentuated how far the centre has come in the past 10 years, and looked at the way ahead.


“We are agents of change, and as such we try to transform NATO on Command and Control” – Captain Renée van Pamelen-Hollenberg


Finally the official address was concluded by the deputy director of the Netherlands Defence Material Organisation (DMO), Major General Ivo de Jong of the Royal Netherlands Army. Having been with the centre from the start in one way or another, the General put emphasis on the importance of the centre to the NATO community.


“The NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence is a small but very important part of our (The Netherlands) Defence Material Organisation” – Major General Ivo de Jong


The official address was followed by an informal reception and serenade. The event gave former and current NATO C2COE members and other valued guests the opportunity to reflect on how far the centre has come over the past 10 years, and discuss the exciting times that lay ahead.

The centre would like to thank all the colleagues, partners, friends and everyone else that has supported the NATO C2COE over the past 10 years. We look forward to keep working with you in the future.


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