NATO Centres of Excellence are nationally or multi-nationally funded institutions accredited by NATO. They train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries, assist in doctrine development, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability and capabilities, and test and validate concepts through experimentation. They offer recognized expertise and experience that is of benefit to the Alliance and support the transformation of NATO, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the NATO command structure.
Although not part of the NATO command structure, they are part of a wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements. Designed to complement the Alliance's current resources, Centres of Excellence cover a wide variety of areas, with each one focusing on a specific field of expertise to enhance NATO capabilities. The overall responsibility for Centres of Excellence coordination and utilization within NATO lies with Allied Command Transformation, in co-ordination with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Allied Command Transformation is in charge of the establishment, accreditation, preparation of candidates for approval, and periodic assessments of the centres. The establishment of a Centre of Excellence is a straightforward procedure. Normally, one or more members decide to establish a Centre of Excellence. The idea then moves into the concept development phase. During this phase the "Framework Nation" or "Nations" fleshes out the concept to Allied Command Transformation by providing information such as the area of specialization, the location of the potential Centre of Excellence and how it will support NATO transformation.
Once Allied Command Transformation approves the concept, the Centre of Excellence and any NATO country that wishes to participate in the Centre of Excellence's activities then negotiate two Memoranda of Understanding: a Functional Memorandum of Understanding, which governs the relationship between Centres of Excellence and the Alliance and an Operational Memorandum of Understanding, which governs the relationship between participating countries and the Centre of Excellence. Once participating countries agree to and sign the Memorandum of Understanding, the Centre of Excellence seeks accreditation from Allied Command Transformation.
The Alliance does not fund Centres of Excellence. Instead, they receive national or multinational support, with "Framework Nations", "Sponsoring Nations" and "Contributing Nations" financing the operating costs of the institutions. Twenty-five Centres of Excellence have received NATO accreditation.
Role of the Centres of Excellence
The primary purpose of Centres of Excellence is to assist with transformation within the Alliance, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the NATO command structure. They generally specialize in one functional area and act as subject matter experts in their field of expertise. They distribute their in-depth knowledge through training, conferences, seminars, concepts, doctrine, lessons learned and papers.
In addition to giving NATO and partner country leaders and units the opportunity to augment their education and training, Centres of Excellence also help the Alliance to expand interoperability, increase capabilities, aid in the development of doctrine and standards, conduct analyses, evaluate lessons-learned and experiment in order to test and verify concepts.
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the 2019 COE Catalogue.
Different types of participants
There are three different types of supporters for Centres of Excellence: "Framework Nations", "Sponsoring Nations" and "Contributing Nations". Generally, a Framework Nation agrees to take on the responsibility of developing the concept and implementation of the Centre of Excellence. In addition, it agrees to provide physical space for the operation of the Centre of Excellence, as well as personnel to run the institution. Sponsoring Nations contribute financially to the Centre of Excellence and provide personnel, whose salary they cover. Contributing Nations may provide financial support or some other service that is of use to the functioning of the Centre of Excellence.
Receiving NATO accreditation
All Centres of Excellence follow a set process to receive NATO accreditation. The Framework Nation or Nations submit a proposal for the Centre of Excellence, which Allied Command Transformation then considers. Next, the Framework Nation or Nations coordinate with Allied Command Transformation to further flesh out the proposal before sending the official offer to establish a Centre of Excellence to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. If the proposal meets certain criteria, Allied Command Transformation formally welcomes the offer.
Afterwards, the Framework Nation or Nations further develop the concept, draft an Operational Memorandum of Understanding and present the Centre of Excellence offer to other countries. Those that are interested in joining the Centre of Excellence then engage in Memorandum of Understanding negotiations before agreeing to the terms of the Memorandum. For Centres of Excellence that did not have some sort of facility in place previously, the Centre of Excellence is physically established.
The Framework and Sponsoring nations must also coordinate, draft, negotiate and agree to a Functional Memorandum of Understanding with Allied Command Transformation. The Centre of Excellence then enters into the accreditation phase. Allied Command Transformation develops accreditation criteria, after which the Framework Nation or Nations request accreditation for the Centre of Excellence. A team from Allied Command Transformation then visits the Centre of Excellence and assesses it against the tailored list of points based on the Military Committee's accreditation criteria for Centres of Excellence.
All Centres of Excellence must act as a catalyst for NATO transformation and open activities to all Alliance members. Centres of Excellence must not duplicate nor compete with current NATO capabilities, but instead offer an area of expertise not already found within the Organization. To this end, all Centres of Excellence must have subject matter experts in their field of specialization. Allied Command Transformation periodically re-assesses Centres of Excellence in order to ensure that they continue to meet those criteria and assure continued NATO accreditation status. Ultimately, the Military Committee and the North Atlantic Council must approve the initial accreditation of the Centre of Excellence.
How Does NATO request Centres of Excellence products and services?
Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation acts on behalf of Allied Command Transformation and Allied Command Operations as the strategic staff authority with overall responsibility for all Centres of Excellence and manages the Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation - Centre of Excellence staff level relationships. To request assistance from a NATO accredited Centre of Excellence, the requestor must forward a Request for Support using the "Request for Support" Tool which is available in the Centre of Excellence Community of Interest on Allied Command Transformation’s Transformation Network (TRANSNET) portal. Having been input via the Request for Support tool, the requests are prioritized before being submitted by NATO to each Centre of Excellence. The development of each Centre of Excellence's Programme of Work is coordinated between the NATO requestors and each Centre of Excellence by Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, and is the primary method for ensuring NATO Requests for Support are sent to the respective Centre of Excellence. The overall aim of this process is to optimize the use of the Centres of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence’s Steering Committees will be presented with all NATO’s received Requests for Support, alongside other requests sent independently to the Centre of Excellence by Sponsoring Nations or other entities, for final approval by the Steering Committee to become the Centre of Excellence’s following year’s Programme of Work.
To foster collaboration and create an internet accessible forum for Communities of Interest to come together and share knowledge and expertise, NATO Allied Command Transformation hosts TRANSNET parallel to the two primary NATO business networks. Although only up to NATO UNCLASSIFIED information can be stored on TRANSNET, in order to safeguard this information, access is only granted to individuals from NATO, NATO nations’ Ministries of Defence / Departments of Defence, NATO Partners, Commercial / Industry entities and other that have a standing business case with NATO. Access to TRANSNET, via standard internet browsers, is also password protected, with the public facing portal providing a section to register and request access via an electronic form. In order to be accepted as an individual user, you need to provide accreditation information including a valid business email address (NATO country government agency, NATO Command Structure, NATO Force Structure). Commercial email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL will not be accepted. Only official military / government email addresses containing the requestor’s name will be accepted.
Accessing the Request for Support tool
Once registered in TRANSNET, users will first have to login before requesting access to the Centre of Excellence Community of Interest. This is achieved by selecting the large blue “Request Community Access” button and then selecting “Read-COE”. This is the standard access granted to all users noting that the “Write-COE” rights are reserved for Allied Command Transformation’s Centre of Excellence Branch members only. When using the Centre of Excellence Request for Support tool, to enable Allied Command Transformation Subject Matter Experts and Centre of Excellence members to provide comments or edit a Request for Support, they will need to be included in the commenters group. In order to be included in the commenters group, the applicants to the Centre of Excellence Community of Interest will need to mention this fact in their request for access to the Centre of Excellence Community of Interest. For further detailed information regarding the Centre of Excellence Programme of Work Request for Support tool please see the Request for Support handbook on TRANSNET.
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The need to provide continuity and specialist skills not found in the military, coupled with the cost of training military personnel in skills found in commerce, underpin the requirement for international civilian staff as an integral part of NATO's military structure. At HQ SACT, NATO International Civilian Staff work along-side their military colleagues in functions which span the activities of the Headquarters in both operational and supporting roles. These include Operations Research & Analysis, Resource Management (HRM, Finance, Infrastructure), Communications & Information Technology and International Law.
There are three categories of NATO International Civilian staff employed at HQ SACT, which are split between the following grades:
The two official languages of NATO are English and French. The work at HQ SACT is mainly conducted in the English Language.
Nationals of the following Countries are eligible to apply:
Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Please note that the recruitment process for NATO International Civilian vacancies at HQ SACT has changed. Applicants should follow this link and then identify the vacancy for the relevant post and follow the instructions given. The old type application form & processes are no longer in effect. All the vacancies below are available at the above-mentioned link.
The link above opens the new Taleo recruiting system. For an exhaustive list of current NATO International Civilian vacancies, click here.
Serving NATO International Civilian staff will be offered a contract in accordance with the NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations. Newly recruited staff will be offered an initial contract of three years with possibility of renewal. The mandatory retirement age for NATO is 65.
The HQ SACT Internship Programme aims to provide a small number of current or recent students with the opportunity to 'intern' with HQ SACT in Norfolk, Virginia, HQ SACT, Staff Element Europe, Mons, Belgium or at the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Monsanto, Lisbon, Portugal. Interns will benefit by gaining understanding of an International Organization, while substantiating their Curriculum Vitae.
Applications for Internship Programme 2020 are now available. Click here for more info on the Internship Programme 2020.
NATO’s Allied Command Transformation is NATO’s Warfare Development Command located in Norfolk, USA. It exists to identify current and future risks and to prepare the Alliance to meet the challenges of an unstable international security environment. Led by General Denis Mercier, Allied Command Transformation uses six focus areas which form the lens through which the transformation of NATO’s military posture is viewed. In an increasingly complex and unstable world NATO Allied Command Transformation’s mission is vital to help safeguard the freedom and security of its members. We innovate to prepare NATO to confront 21st Century security threats.
Allied Command Transformation: Improve Today. Shape Tomorrow. Bridge the Two.
Command and Control
Allied Command Transformation develops and refines the means by which NATO plans and conducts future operations. Efficient and effective Command & Control has to be adapted to the ever-changing environment, enabling NATO and its members to meet its core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, cooperative security and to project stability. A forward leaning Command & Control structure provides the ways and means for NATO forces to be interoperable to improve resilience and agility. Allies and Partners must design interoperability into command and control systems in order to improve and enhance how they operate and adapt, to meet NATO’s core tasks.
Allied Command Transformation, through the perspective of the Focus Area Capabilities, envisages to keep NATO’s warfighting cutting edge by developing capabilities starting from a clear understanding of future challenges.
Allied Command Transformation identifies and prioritizes Alliance Capability shortfalls, informing the delivery of suitable and efficient military solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. The development of capabilities entails the consideration of all material and non-material aspects in the definition of a solution towards the complete satisfaction of the requirement. The integration of all capability development efforts to achieve a harmonic evolution towards solutions to future challenges is supported leveraging knowledge from academia, Centers of Excellences, Allies and the Science and Technology community.
In 2030 the Alliance will project and sustain its Joint Force through a network of persistent, agile, scalable, and resilient operational support systems. Partnership focused, the Alliance has to be fully interoperable and forged by a cooperative, innovative and mutually supportive civil and military sustainment environment. Allied Command Transformation facilitates the Alliance to deploy, sustain and redeploy forces enabling them to fulfill their military mandate.
The Human Capital Focus Area’s vision is to ‘provide the best prepared people, at the right place, at the right time, every time’.
Rapidly advancing technology and a dynamic threat environment will continue to place new demands on NATO personnel. This necessitates a more proactive approach to preparing our personnel: an approach where technological advances are viewed as force multipliers; where critical and innovative thinking is embraced; and where collaboration with non-traditional partners is encouraged. By exploring emerging trends and the evidence we see today, NATO can proactively determine our future requirements. This continuous and ‘living’ effort will allow us to shape and enhance the knowledge, skills and attitudes of our personnel, ensuring that they are ready to meet the demands of tomorrow. This approach is the most direct path to our ultimate destination: excellence in operations.
Collective Training & Exercises
Allied Command Transformation strives to prepare forces and decision makers for the full spectrum of future warfare. This Focus Area perspective assures that NATO maintains a high state of readiness, is interoperable, is capable across the full mission spectrum, and therefore, serves as the cornerstone of the Alliance’s credible deterrence. It seeks to make greater use of education, training and exercises to reinforce links between the forces of NATO member countries and maintain the level of interoperability needed for future operations.
Partners are increasingly contributing to NATO operations and are force multipliers in fulfilling the NATO mission. Allied Command Transformation, through the Partnership Focus Area perspective, strives to achieve “Day one interoperability” with a broad range of partners, covering the full military spectrum together, and pursuing shared interests based on the partner level of ambition. Working with partners from across international bodies, such as the European Union and United Nations, as well as those in the civil and private sectors will be key to enhancing NATO’s Resilience. Only through a common and shared understanding of our interdependencies can we build resilient nations and partners which in turn builds a resilient Alliance. By concentrating on the near and distant future, Allied Command Transformation fosters awareness for the Alliance and its partners with innovative approaches and supports projecting stability through cooperation.
NATO's Allied Command Transformation Six Focus Areas: a Six-Minutes Video on Transformation