Introduction

The annual meeting of the representatives of the participating nations determine the NATO C2COE work package (i.e. Steering Board Meeting) for the upcoming year. This is the milestone in the NATO C2COE battle rhythm.

This compendium is the result of that multinational coordination process and lines out the content of the NATO C2COE work for 2021. Our members will cover a very broad spectrum of C2 topics, ranging from theoretical groundwork, to practical input into the evaluation of the main certification exercises of NATO headquarters, to the development of a new organizational field related to being the OPOAAA Discipline Department Head: education and training.

In very challenging times, especially in the area of personnel growth in the NATO Command Structure, and the resulting consequences for the personnel situation of NATO C2COE, prioritizing the requested support must be reconciled with projects on our own initiative which, in our view, are evident for NATO´s advancement. Have we got the balance right? Take a look at this overview of the topics we will be dealing with and form your own opinion.

If you would like to participate, or if you would like to participate in the future development of NATO, do not hesitate to contact us and to discuss future participation within the NATO C2COE as a member nation, and thus as a participant in the NATO C2COE Steering Board Meeting.

This is a product of the NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence (NATO C2COE) with a collection of articles and papers. Its contributions does not necessarily represent opinions or policies of NATO and/or the Sponsoring Nations of the Centre and it is designed to provide an independent opinion.

© 2021 NATO C2COE. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without reference to the NATO C2COE.

STJU 21 will be a SHAPE sponsored Command Post Exercise/Computer Assisted Exercise (CPX/CAX) to train the NRF (NATO Response Force) package and evaluate the NRF 22 Component Command’s planning and conduct a pre-Article 5 operation in the final states of the Deterrence phase. It will consist of all domain operations against a nuclear capable peer adversary; Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2/AD) threat; WMD proliferation; nuclear aspects, cyber, space and ballistic missile threats; hybrid threats and non-austere conditions. For years, NATO C2COE has supported the certification process for NRF headquarters by assigning C2 subject matter experts (SME) to the SHAPE J7 evaluation teams and the training teams of the NATO Joint Warfare Center (JWC). Again, in phases IIB (Planning) and IIIB (Execution) of STJU 21, NATO C2COE SMEs will reinforce these teams as an evaluator or trainer/observer.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to STJU 21, please contact our project officer:
LTC Marko Gangi (DEU A)
– email: m.gangi@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 610711564

The future scope of SATCOM capability must be postured against a clear definition of the future SATCOM threat environment. Whilst this is generally still fit for purpose, the growth of cyber and space based threats, in addition to the continued development of threats in the EW environment, must be formally considered in order to accurately inform the current development of NATO SATCOM capability. This assessment will facilitate its development along DOTMLPFI lines of effort in order to deliver a capability which is adapted and supporting NATO’s Minimum Military Requirement (MMR) in a manner which ensures flexibility and resilience.

This ACT study will be complementary to current developments pertaining to the space domain, which include a NIAG study on commercial space support in 2021, and HQ SACT Innovation Hub on future space trends and technologies (e.g. risks, opportunities, etc.). Results obtained on the analysis of space will further influence and develop the NATO C2COE’s work on multi-domain operations.

The study of SATCOM capability and the accompanying threat environment will be led by the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC). The NATO C2COE will serve as C2 SME for the duration of this concept’s development.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the activities related to Analysis and Concepts, please contact our project officer:
– LT Adrian Granillo (USA N)
email: ae.granillo@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 639176407

Supreme Headquarter Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) looks to develop the concept of High Level Technical Assessment for the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control Capability (AFSC) which will be the successor system to E3-A /NATO AWACS. AFSC does not aim to be the explicit replacement to the NATO AWACS, but intends to develop an overarching, comprehensive concept for the future NATO system.

The NATO C2COE for this development retains support to the development of initial CONOPS and future products related to AFSC. The NATO C2COE acts as the C2 SME for this effort.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the activities related to Analysis and Concepts, please contact our project officer:
– LT Adrian Granillo (USA N)
email: ae.granillo@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 639176407

NATO C2 relationships and authorities as described in NATO policies, doctrines, directives, and concepts are designed to be flexible, but should be clear to all involved. The nations gathered in the Allied Joint Operational Doctrine Working Group suggested that more clarity on traditional C2 terms, the directed Supported/Supporting Interrelationship (SSI) and on the delegation of authority is required.

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) forwarded a formal request in August 2018 to the NATO C2COE to review all NATO publications that refer to NATO C2 relationships and authorities in order to identify areas that could give rise to misinterpretation by NATO commanders and staffs, and subsequently to propose recommendations to address the identified issues.

In the following years, the project members contacted nations and NCS/NFS to obtain experiences from both NATO-led operations and NATO exercises which suggest that such clarity is lacking. Lacking responses, no evidence emerged. Also they studied various NATO publications to identify supposed inconsistencies in the use of terms. Main finding though is that there is consistency and that the terms are re-used throughout. Mastering the English language might be the issue. A substantive Annex on Supported/Supporting Interrelationships, or directed relationship between equal commanders, is ready for external comments. Remaining work is listing references for the existing formal C2 terms and discussing change proposals for their definitions. This has to be followed by the recording of the last years collected conceptual thoughts on authority (including different tables for its delegation) and open source opinions on the aptness of NATO C2 relationships.

Finalization of the study has been rescheduled several times due to insufficient input and limited manning; it is now foreseen to conclude in 2021.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this project, please contact our project officer:
– LtCol Frank Gubbels (NLD N MC);
email: FHMJ.Gubbels@mindef.nl, telephone: 0031 (0)30 218 7013

In November 2012, the Military Committee provided overarching guidance for establishing a Federated Mission Network (FMN) capability. This will enable effective information sharing among NATO, NATO nations, and/or non-NATO entities; the so-called Affiliates. FMN will connect forces participating in an operation to a federated mission environment at any time, quickly and at an optimised level of interoperability. The ultimate purpose of FMN is to support command and control including decision-making in operations. This FMN concept is a key contribution to the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI), helping NATO and partner forces to better communicate, train and operate together.

The NATO C2COE, which has information management and human aspects as two of its primary focus areas, is especially interested in the Operational Coordination Working Group (OCWG), as it represents the operators input towards FMN. The OCWG is responsible for collecting, expressing, managing operational requirements and evaluating their fulfilment.

Generally speaking, it can be stated that FMN is currently a huge, continuous synchronization effort focused on the ability to share technology and systems. However, the mental/cultural aspects of FMN, such as the willingness to share, are hardly ever mentioned. Achieving FMN Ready Forces (at Day One) further requires bridging the gap between the operators, requesters, the budgeteers and the technical developers. Ambitions, with regard to the pace of progress, have to be realistic and have to pay account for organisational processes such as rigid procurement cycles. No Affiliate should be left behind, but most important is the involvement of the warfighter, who longs for working solutions but is often weighed down by his workload and often totally unaware of the improvements already realized in past FMN implementations (called Spirals).

FMN has just recently started Spiral 5 Specification. A final version is to be delivered in the second half of 2022. The preferred operational use is from 2026 to 2027. The objective is to realize the ability to federate and share information between static information domains (like those used for planning and preparation activities) with the deployable mission network domains. The resulting enhancements means a potentially large reduction in the time required for any federated mission network to reach initial and then full operational capability, bringing the federation an important step closer to “day zero” interoperability. The other principle features intended for Spiral 5 are to increase interoperability throughout the Joint Functional Areas as well as some domain specific services.

The NATO C2COE will monitor and if possible contribute to the Inter-FMN Working Group (IWG) Command and Control Syndicate. This group of diverse specialists has been tasked to develop specifications for C2, Battlespace Management and Situational Awareness.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this topic, please read our articles in previous Annual Overviews or contact our project officers:

  • LtCol Frank Gubbels (NLD N MC); email: FHMJ.Gubbels@mindef.nl, telephone: 0031 (0)30 218 7013
  • LT Adrian Granillo (USA N); email: AE.Granillo@mindef.nl, telephone: 0031 (0)30 218 7020

The Plans Directorate of the NLD MOD has funded a national programme (called “contour”) on C2-services for operations in a Joint, Interagency, Multinational and Public (JIMP) environment and “Flows”. Flows refers to the dynamic interaction between (activities of) actors and factors in (such) an environment. The national organisation for applied sciences (TNO) is conducting this programme which lasts from 2019-2022. It aims at knowledge generation in order to define requirements for future C2 support systems for situational awareness and decision-making.

The contour kicked off in January 2019 with representation from the NATO C2COE. This effort is supported by all armed forces services by the participation of experts in meetings as well as representation in the Steering Board. This wide participation ensures that the research/development meets demands.

Our contribution consisted primarily commenting on and reviewing country studies, drafted by TNO scholars. In the discussions around this work-package the NATO C2COE succeeded to get more focus on NATO future C2 concepts (especially FMN) as these will constitute the framework for support to future operations. National efforts for C2 networks (architectures) therefore always have to keep this NATO dimension in mind.

As a next step, the NATO C2COE will help TNO to execute experiments which realistically reflect realistic challenging high tactical/operational level challenges for the audience (in order to better define future C2 requirements). The basis will be the experience gained in 2020 with the Multi Domain Operations C2 Demonstrator platform.

This programme and its outcomes have a close relationship with the work and tasking of the NATO C2COE. It provides an opportunity to work closely together with TNO and the armed forces services, which together provide the staff for the NATO C2COE.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this project, please contact our project officer:
-LTC Paul Serné (NLD A);
email: pa.serne@mindef.nl, telephone: 0031 (0) 6 30241446

As with every previous year, in 2021 the NATO C2COE is ready to analyze, on request, topics within the specific area of C2 in order produce analysis reports that directly support ACT and the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC); this feedback may later lead to a future study. In addition, the NATO C2COE will participate in the annual workshops of the NATO Lessons Learned Community and contribute to the further development of NATO’s Lessons Learned process.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the activities related to Lessons Learned and Analysis, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Paul Serné (NLD A)
email: pa.serrne@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 30241446

In a future volatile, uncertain, ambiguous, and complex environment the amount of data and the interconnected events in multiple domains will increase the demand for support in the commander’s decision-making process (DMP). Present day insights are that there is no dedicated augmented C2 tool at the operational level. Some parts of the DMP are still done as in WWII, supported by old fashioned visualization tools (e.g. PowerPoint). This leads to an inefficiency in C2 processes, which even if they are effective, could be done in less time and with less people involved.

Based on our 2019 Future of the Command Post, the NATO Command and Control Centre of Excellence found that future HQs at the operational level will differ from the current ones. They are expected to host similar joint functions as current HQs, but the way these functions are supported by technology will differ.

The subsequent NATO C2COE project, the 2020 Multi-Domain Operations C2 Demonstrator (MDOC2D) platform showed the potential of current available and emerging technology within the DMP-context of a (future) command post. It became eminent that realizing practical solutions to reinforce the DMP within JFCs through the use of state-of-the-art visualization and interaction tools and AI-based human-machine interaction to produce the actual content, requires collaboration between military, industry, and academia. Furthermore it became clear that there is a need to improve the practicality of and a commander’s trust in and acceptance of these tools and their feeds based on AI-based technologies. Future decision-making systems become only a tangible concept once it is applied into a specific domain and for a given purpose.

Objectives and expected achievements

The potential changes in the JFC/JTF HQ C2 and decision-making system require a deep analysis. Tangible solutions are needed to help NATO leadership meet future challenges. This project gathers research and applies it to potential areas that could enhance a JFC-HQ C2 system while using dispersed physical locations and distributed information sharing. These enhancements will contribute to an increase in speed and quality of several elements in the decision making process.

The aim is to provide a Food-for-Thought concept for a fit-for-purpose JFC HQ C2 system in the future (2025/2030) environment with recommendations on ‘How to get there’.

In order to develop the study, the project team will perform desk-research on relevant studies, connect to the COI, and collect insights from NATO senior leadership at operational level HQs.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this project, please contact our project officer:
– Major M. (Marcel) Scherrenburg (NLD AF), telephone: +31(0) 6 10711561

Current Command & Control (C2) practice is being changed by both the need to conduct Multiple Domain Operations (MDO) and an increasing reliance on robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that are a challenge for C2. MDO prompts the need to harmonize activities in the physical (e.g. land), virtual (e.g. cyber) and social domains (e.g. economic). Without sufficient harmonization, MDO is likely to fail. Likewise, without incorporating non-human partners, NATO will be outmaneuvered by its adversaries. Our C2 arrangements need to include non-human partners. To succeed, militaries need to develop multi-domain approaches to C2 and also adapt individual domain C2. SAS-143 is developing the C2 concepts and tools necessary to achieve harmonization across operations in multiple domains with a variety of human and non-human partners. These concepts will be tested for efficacy in simulations, war games and exercises.

In addition to national representatives from AUS, CAN, GBR, EST, NOR, NLD, POR, SWE, and USA, the NATO C2COE has also been participating in this study since 2018 with two Subject Matter Experts. The goal for 2021 is to complete the study and present it to the public.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to NATO SAS 143, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Marko Gangi (DEU A)
email: m.gangi@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 610711564

Work conducted by the Multinational Capability Development Campaign has concluded that “The prevalence of systems employing… [Artificial Intelligence (AI)]… is growing in the military sphere; such systems will likely become a permanent feature of military operations. The implications for military operations and capabilities are broad and significant. The role of AI in military systems is one of the most important considerations for defense policy makers in the near future. An important consideration for the design and operation of systems with autonomous capability is the level of human control in the system.”

In the military context, it is important that systems that employ AI remain under appropriate human control. The implementation of AI will differ between nations. In a coalition environment, such systems potentially deploy in parallel during an operation, which requires that NATO commanders understand the subsequent effect on planning and C2. Creating a common standard for describing the role of the human operator and the role of the machine in systems that use AI will help commanders incorporate such systems in their planning processes.

The objective of IST-157 is to identify doctrinal implications for the use of AI in coalition environments, identify potential C2 arrangements (oversight, decision rights, evaluability of information, etc.) and develop a taxonomy to describe human-in-the-loop architectures for systems that employ AI.

In addition to the NATO nations Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States, the NATO C2COE has also been participating in the study since 2017 with two Subject Matter Experts. The goal for 2021 is to complete the study and present it to the public.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the NATO STO IST-157, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Marko Gangi (DEU A)
email: m.gangi@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 610711564

In 2019, HQ SACT Human Capital Enhancement Branch started a Human Capital Gaps Analysis. The objective is the development of a comprehensive human capital programme and the generation of a stronger human capital focus as an integrated force booster through innovative attitudes, behavioral changes, training, education and technology application. The aim is to find out where the deficits or gaps lie in relation to the individual sub-themes.

In 2021, the NATO C2COE will participate in this analysis by participation of a staff officer who has already gained experience in human factors through the NATO C2COE study “The Future of the Command Post Part II”.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the Human Capital Gaps Analysis, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Paul Serné (NLD A)
email: pa.serne@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 6 302 414 46

In a future even more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous Area of Operations, the amount of data to be processed and the interconnected events in multiple domains will increase the demand for support to the operational level commander’s decision-making process (DMP). This needs to be combined with efforts to increase survivability on the modern battlefield.

Within this context, the operational level HQs will have to review and adapt their processes to face upcoming challenges. Future HQs are expected to host similar joint functions and processes as in current HQs, but the way these functions and processes are supported will significantly differ, due in large part to the role of technology.

The recently developed Multi-Domain Operations C2 Demonstrator (MDOC2D) platform shows the potential of state-of-the-art technology within the DMP-context of a (future) command post. Characteristic elements of these HQs are distributed information sharing and dispersed staff locations to reduce visibility and electromagnetic footprint and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and Non-human Intelligent Collaborators (NICs). Supporting tools in the shape of innovative human-machine interfaces are and will be implemented, increasing the agility of actors and speed and quality of elements in the DMP.

These potential changes in the DMP require a deep analysis and the provision of tangible solutions to help NATO leadership meet future challenges.

The aim of this phase 2 of the MDOC2D project is to conduct a study about the operational level DMP in order to provide these solutions. The project team will collect feedback from and conduct directed interviews with NATO senior leadership and HQs staff during the MDOC2D platform roadshows. This collection effort and the analysis of their insights, will focus on the human aspects of a dispersed and technology supported DMP.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to the future of military decision-making project, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Miguel Gonzalez Merino (ESP A);
email: m.gonzalezmerino@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0)30 218 7018, +31(0)610 710 452

STJA 21 will be a SHAPE sponsored operational-tactical level Command Post Exercise/Computer Assisted Exercise (CPX/CAX) to train, evaluate and observe NRDC-ITA as a JTF HQ and FRA JFAC (NRF JFAC 2022) in planning and conducting a Non-Article 5 Small Joint Operation with limited complexity, against insurgents contesting NATO in Western Africa (FIKSO scenario), mainly in the Land and Cyber Domains.

For years, NATO C2COE has supported the certification process for NRF headquarters by assigning C2 subject matter experts (SME) to the SHAPE J7 evaluation teams and the training teams of the NATO Joint Warfare Center (JWC). In phases IIB (Planning) and IIIB (Execution) of STJA 21, NATO C2COE C2 SMEs will reinforce SHAPE J7 staff and NATO JWC teams as an evaluator or trainer/observer.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to STJA 21, please contact our project officer:
– LTC Marko Gangi (DEU A) email: m.gangi@mindef.nl, telephone: +31(0) 610711564

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