As explained above, the three main purposes of NATO’s education and training programmes are to increase the interoperability and effectiveness of NATO-led multinational forces, assist partner countries in their reform efforts, and help bring peace and stability to crisis-hit areas.
Troops for NATO operations are drawn from many different countries: the forces of NATO member and partner countries, as well as from countries which are not NATO member or partner countries. Ensuring that these multinational forces can work together effectively despite differences in tactics, doctrine, training, structures, and language is a priority for NATO. This “interoperability” is built in a number of ways.
NATO’s network of educational institutions offers a broad range of courses on both strategic and operational issues. While courses differ, they tend to focus on knowledge and skills required by individuals who will occupy senior or specialised positions within the structure of the Alliance, or who hold NATO-related posts in their own countries.
The NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy is NATO’s primary strategic-level educational facility and includes areas of study such as trends in the international security environment and their potential effects on NATO countries. It provides training for senior commanders. The NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany is the primary operational-level training centre for students. Operational-level training focuses on joint planning of NATO operations, logistics, communications, civil emergency planning, or civil-military cooperation.
Courses are being offered in an increasing number of locations to ensure all available expertise is being utilised, for instance, civil-military training at the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Centre of Excellence, the Netherlands. Courses vary in duration (from a day to several months) and are open to personnel from NATO member countries and some to personnel from countries participating in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as selected “partners across the globe” (countries which are neither NATO members nor partner countries, also referred to as “global partners”). Some are also open to civilian participants.
- Experimentation and development
NATO is constantly trying to improve the way its forces operate. In line with its transformation agenda, the Alliance is continuing to focus on the development of new concepts and capabilities to ensure future NATO forces are trained and equipped to the highest possible standard.
NATO countries conduct their own experimentation. The Alliance provides a forum for members to engage in knowledge-sharing regarding concepts and capabilities. It does this through Allied Command Transformation (ACT), which leads the transformation of NATO’s military structure, forces, capabilities and doctrine. ACT enhances training, particularly of commanders and staff, conducts experiments to assess new concepts and promotes interoperability throughout the Alliance.
Exercises provide opportunities to test and validate all aspects of NATO operations, including procedures, concepts, systems, and tactics. Exercises also build and reinforce interoperability by focusing on practical training for personnel from NATO countries and partners with which the Alliance cooperates.
Working with NATO partners on defence reform
NATO members have reduced levels of military personnel, equipment and bases from Cold War levels and transformed their forces to meet today’s needs. Many partner countries are still going through this process, often with scarce resources and limited expertise.
In 2005, NATO started developing an “Education and Training for Defence Reform” (EfR) initiative that provides a framework for cooperation for both military and civilian personnel. EfR helps educators incorporate principles linked to defence institution building into their curricula. Since the courses are aimed at civil servants and other persons participating in defence institution building, they contribute indirectly to improving defence reform. Education is effectively a key agent of transformation and NATO is using it to support institutional reform in partner countries. The Alliance’s education and training programmes initially focused on increasing interoperability between NATO and partner forces. They have since been expanded to provide a means for members and partners to collaborate on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defence and military domain.
- Tailor-made defence education
Through the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP), the Alliance advises partners on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the defence and military domain. This effort is embedded in partners' individual programmes (Individual Partnership Action Plans, Annual National Programmes and Individual Partnership Cooperation Programmes), and is a key part of the Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan. There are currently 13 individual country DEEP programmes, with different focuses and at different stages of development, engaging Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They are run with the support of the PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (see “Additional training institutions and organisations” for explanations), the Partnership Training and Education Centres and Allied as well as partner defence institutions.
Each partner country participating in defence reform agrees on an individualised programme with NATO that varies in depth and breadth, depending on its interests and level of commitment and cooperation. This can include tailor-made education programmes such as on-the-job training, language training, and resettlement and retraining of redundant military personnel.
Aside from helping individual countries to develop their educational institutions, NATO is also helping develop teaching curricula (”what to teach”), available to all Allies and partners. Six years of committed effort by prominent experts from Allied and partner countries have produced three unique products: the Reference Curricula on defence institution building, on the professional military education for officers and – the most recent one – on professional military education for non-commissioned officers. Work continues on a reference curriculum on the Comprehensive Approach, and the development of curricula related to emerging security challenges is being considered.
Faculty development (“how to teach”) is the third pillar of DEEP. NATO helps maintain an international professional network which brings together defence and military educators from Allied and partner countries to exchange experience in teaching methodologies and help those interested in advice and assistance.
To do all that, the Alliance has developed and relies upon a vast transatlantic web of institutions and individuals who support these projects on a voluntary basis. A large number of Allied and partner institutions have engaged in DEEP: the US Army War College, the Canadian Defence Academy, the National Defence University of Poland, the National Defence University of Romania, the Czech University of Defence, the Slovak Armed Forces Academy, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to name just a few. The NATO Defense College and the NATO School Oberammergau also support the programme. The Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes - an Austrian-German-Swiss-US initiative - is instrumental in helping NATO to manage the network and the DEEP projects.
The functional Educational Clearing House, led by the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, and supported by the PfP Consortium, plays a critical role in coordinating NATO and national efforts in support of DEEP projects.
Of note, the Alliance is also the hub for a growing network of Partnership Training and Education Centres (PTECs), which currently brings together 26 civilian and military institutions from Allied and partner countries. While originally developed in the framework of Partnership for Peace, the network already includes Egyptian, Jordanian and Mongolian centres. The PTECs, while national institutions, conduct education and training activities related to NATO partnership programmes and policies and contribute substantially to the Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM).
- Courses, seminars and workshops
Partner countries which work with NATO are able to participate in an array of NATO education activities – courses, roundtables, seminars, and workshops.
NATO countries are among the most advanced in the world in terms of defence capabilities. Countries cooperating with the Alliance on defence reform are able to take advantage of this expertise. For most countries, this is done through the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process (PARP), a mechanism that helps to identify partner forces and capabilities that could be available to the Alliance for multinational training, exercises and operations.
Countries with special relationships with NATO can have additional mechanisms for exchanging advice and expertise. For instance, the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform provides a forum through which consultation can take place on initiatives as diverse as civil-military relations, democratic oversight and civilian management of the armed forces and other security sector agencies, defence planning, policy, strategy and national security concepts. Moreover, NATO-led multinational teams of experts can visit partner countries to address the education and training requirements listed in the individual action plans of the countries concerned. This has been the case, for instance, for the South Caucasus countries and Moldova, as well as Mauritania.
- An initiative for the Mediterranean and the Middle East
A dedicated Middle East faculty has been established at the NATO Defense College in Rome as part of the NATO Regional Cooperation Course.
Education and training in NATO-led operations
NATO’s efforts to bring stability to crisis areas go beyond deploying troops. Through education and training programmes, NATO is helping countries such as Afghanistan develop its own security institutions and provide for its own security.
An important aspect of NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan is assisting the country in developing its security structures and forces. NATO’s Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A) was established in November 2009, bringing together NATO and national efforts under one umbrella and working closely with Afghan authorities. Its key tasks include the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Security Forces, support to the Afghan National Army’s institutional training base, and the reform of the Afghan National Police at the district level and below. The Alliance also deployed Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams to Afghan National Army units at various levels of command. These gradually evolved into Military Advisory Teams and Police Advisory Teams, more generally known as Security Force Assistance Teams.
In 2006, NATO signed a declaration with Afghanistan, establishing a substantial programme of long-term cooperation. This Afghan Cooperation Programme provides for further training assistance, including opening NATO courses and partnership activities to Afghan participation, providing advice and expertise on defence reform and the development of security institutions, as well as specific assistance such as language training.
Subsequently, on 20 November 2010, NATO and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed a Declaration on an Enduring Partnership at the NATO Summit in Lisbon. The Enduring Partnership is intended to provide long-term political and practical support to Afghanistan as it rebuilds its security institutions and assumes full responsibility for its own security through the transition process. It includes a series of agreed programmes and activities undertaken as part of the ongoing cooperation between NATO and Afghanistan. This includes the Professional Military Education Programme for Afghanistan, which aims to further develop Afghan institutions, as well as other initiatives such as a counter-narcotics training pilot project.
At the request of the African Union (AU), NATO assisted the AU (June 2005-end December 2007) in strengthening its peacekeeping force in Darfur in a bid to halt the continuing violence. Initially, NATO’s support consisted in training AU troops in strategic-level planning and operational procedures. It provided support to a UN-led map exercise and later, in summer 2006, provided training assistance in the fields of pre-deployment certification and “lessons learned”, as well as information management.
Additionally, NATO has been providing subject-matter experts to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) since 2007, offering expertise in areas such as maritime planning, air movement coordination and logistics. NATO also provides expert and training support to the African Standby Force (ASF), at the AU’s request. The ASF is part of the AU’s efforts to develop long-term peacekeeping capabilities.
From 2004 to end 2011, NATO helped Iraq provide for its own security by training Iraqi personnel and supporting the development of the country’s security institutions. NATO trained and mentored middle- and senior-level personnel from the Iraqi security forces in Iraq and outside of Iraq, at NATO schools and training centres. The Alliance also played a role in coordinating offers of equipment and training from individual NATO member and partner countries.