Conceptual Framework on Command and Control

Command and control (C2) is the core business of NATO C2COE, it forms the essence of Centre’s daily work; however, the actual concept behind the term, “Command and Control” or “C2” remains somehow confusing and vague, especially among the international community. Today we are experiencing a variety of theories/ approaches which are complemented by the absence of a commonly accepted definition for C2 within NATO.

Pigeau and McCann, have found that if an infinite number of different ways of spanning spaces exists, the use of a structure immediately reduces the space for describing the problem to a smaller, more manageable size[1]. Alberts and Hayes have found that our current state of understanding can be presented in conceptual models[2]. Accordingly, Alberts and Hayes describe a conceptual model as a structured way to represent a theory that consists of a set of facts or assumptions (variables) and the relationships among them.

Concept C2 confusing and vague

Concept of C2 has remained somehow confusing and vague.

Building a conceptual model in order to structure our current knowledge, therefore, reducing the space of C2 to a smaller, more manageable size, allows the NATO C2COE to better deal with the subject, and consequently provide a greater focus in our support to NATO. In 2015, we are planning to study C2 more in-depth; identify prevailing and most essential components; and develop a model which can be used in assessments of C2. In order to achieve this aim the NATO C2COE has created an internal Working Group and foresees an extensive consultation process necessary among various external organizations. An initial discussion regarding C2 issues is planned for February 2015 with representatives from the Swiss Armed Forces.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this project, please contact our project officer: Lt Col Frank GUBBELS (NLD MC), Send Email, 0031 (0)30 218 7013.


[1] Pigeau, R. & McCann, C. 2002. Re-conceptualizing Command and Control. Canadian Military Journal: Spring 2002; page 54.

[2] Alberts, D., S. & Hayes, R., E. 2006. Understanding command and control. Washington, DC: CCRP Publication Series; pages 16, 17.