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In July I had the honour to become the Director of the NATO C2COE. I feel very privileged to be allowed in this position. For me, Command and Control always has been of vital importance to the military operations, and in fact to any operation. I firmly believe that international cooperation and independent thought development are at the heart of our global security. The NATO C2COE brings all that together, a high level centre of excellence on a vital topic with an international framework and freedom to express an independent view.'
In the past months I was able to get to know the team behind it and see from the inside what qualitatively outstanding output they achieve. In the words of our former FOGO Champion Lt Gen Sharpy (ACT): “NATO C2COE rocks!”.
As the pandemic yet again forced us this year to work in a hybrid manner, it hasn’t stopped us to participate and contribute in the ongoing debate on Multi-Domain Command and Control. We were able to deliver a draft definition that helped ACT to further develop the concept. It shows our strength, as development of new ideas is not hampered by various levels of approval. Also in NATO exercises we were able to pick up our SME role. That is needed and very appreciated. The new E&T section got manned in September and was quickly participating in all centre activities. They already conducted the first ADC for our OPOAAA department head role. In November we organised our webinar (which yet again replaced our seminar) and proved to be our diamond event. The high level presentations resulted in many valuable discussions with speakers and attendees. The results that came from that influence our future work. By contributing to all major NATO developments on the operational and strategic level we continue to enhance and sustain the quality of our products.
All these and more activities contributed to the ACT periodic assessment conclusion that we are clearly “punching above our weight”. Although that is a good thing, our unfilled staff positions and decreasing number of sponsoring nations are a concern.
With Germany putting its membership on hold and Estonia leaving us in February 2022 the decreasing international input in our centre is in sharp contrast to the importance of and attention for command and control within NATO, nations and institutions. With only a few subject matter experts and upcoming personnel changes my first priority is to increase the capacity of our COE. That must be done in innovative ways as an increase in sponsoring nations alone might not be enough to keep pace with the speed of relevance regarding agile C2.
The pandemic also changed the way of working around the world. It opened opportunities to share our product much better with our diverse target audiences like the military personnel working in staff positions within all allied nations. Our podcast series will be continued and our presence via social-media and our website expanded in a professional way with many high quality presentations or video’s available for everyone with an interest in C2.
Under new leadership our Support Section took up the task to change our financial system to be fit for the future. A necessary step to meet accountability requirements. With the continuation of hybrid paroles and huddles we kept close contact with everybody and it helped to work as a team and keep everybody informed. We explored our new way of working, in a fine balance between working at home and in physical attendance. I believe it gave us a lot more flexibility. Fortunately we were able to conduct several in person social events again, even with our families. It proved to be the best way to keep everybody’s spirits up.
In conclusion 2021 was a very active year. I am confident that the NATO C2COE will continue to support NATO and nations with our subject matter expertise on Command and Control. C2 is changing rapidly and we will contribute to the best of our ability to strengthen NATO in its C2 adaptation.