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160512niag01 400On 11-12 May 2016 and for the first time in Norfolk (VA), the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) held its plenary session at Headquarters Allied Command Transformation (ACT). The focus of the discussions was on how to further strengthen the Alliance’s capabilities.

In over 60 years NATO has become the most robust and credible alliance in history which has been key to keeping our transatlantic community at peace. Such a Transatlantic power integrating all contributions from allies and partners has demonstrated military supremacy by fielding superior military capabilities in all sectors of warfare at the cutting edge of technology.

Today ACT’s mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states by leading, at the strategic command level, the transformation of military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines to improve the military effectiveness of NATO. Maintaining strong links with industry is one of the ways used by ACT to reach this goal and amplify the outcomes of this Transformation.

“We are building the modern posture of the alliance for the 21st century. If we look at the credibility of this posture, having a strong industry is one of our main strengths,” said Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), General Denis Mercier.

The NIAG was created in 1968 at the behest of the Conference to National Armament Directors to provide advice on industrial matters to NATO. It is composed of delegations from allies and partners who are appointed jointly by industry and national governments to act as the voice of national industry. The group is one of the most important interfaces with industry within NATO. Its processes ensure consensual and inclusive interaction. Its construct allows access to senior level industrialists for high level strategic advice as well as experts for technical studies.

160512niag02 250During two days of joint plenary session, delegations from NATO Nations and Partner Nations focused on how industrial contributions and expertise should be provided to keep the Alliance at the leading edge of technological superiority. Industry has a key role in supporting ACT in the development of capabilities for the Alliance.

ACT recognizes the need to bring innovation and an industrial perspective into all its relevant strands of work. Industry recognizes the need for early insight into NATO strategies to inform industry investment decisions and encourage cooperation between nations. The relationship with industry is essential to inform and shape capability design, development, and delivery. In addition, a more dynamic and open engagement with industry, including non-defence related companies and small and medium size entities is essential to encourage technical and procedural innovation, while identifying key technologies that could impact the way we conduct warfare in the future.

The NIAG understands the importance of ACT’s role throughout the capability development process and was delighted to be invited to hold its plenary session in the Headquarters. Discussions with ACT focused on developing a concrete action plan to improve how they will work together in the future. More than 20 actions were agreed and will be addressed before the next NIAG session in November, giving industry an opportunity to support the ACT programme of work. For ACT, the discussions with the NIAG were an important event in the lead-up to the NATO-Industry Forum, which will take place in Brussels on 9 November 2016.