NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

04 Aug. 2011

Training for future peace and security

Improving the operational capabilities of NATO’s forces is an important part of the Alliance’s transformation to meet evolving security challenges and to promote peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond. Through networks of educational institutions and training centres, and regular exercises, the Alliance is constantly striving to improve the effectiveness of its personnel and interoperability of its forces.

Training and capacity building is also identified as a priority in NATO’s new Partnerships Policy, which was agreed by NATO foreign ministers at Berlin in April 2011. The Alliance is working with partners around to the globe to develop interoperability, build capacity and support defence reform.

Following the Cold War, Alliance members transformed their military, reducing personnel and equipment. Today, many partner countries are still going through this process, often with scarce resources and limited expertise. NATO’s education and training programmes – initially focused on increasing interoperability between NATO and partner forces – have expanded over the years to provide a means for members and partners to collaborate on education and training for defence reform.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, NATO’s training missions are improving the capabilities of national security forces, so that they are better placed to assume full responsibility for the security of their country and people. In the African Union, the Alliance has started capacity-building support to develop its peacekeeping capabilities. While not an overnight process, such activities are an investment in the future and are a critical element in helping to promote lasting peace and stability in these countries.

“Training is, in a word, key,” says Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, adding that “training is turning out to be one of the real success stories” of NATO operations. 

Securing the future in Afghanistan

The NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A) is the Alliance’s biggest training mission and was established at the 2009 Strasbourg-Kehl Summit. Its main focus is to train the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police into professional and sustainable security forces. Today, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) participate in courses from basic soldiering to training air force pilots and bomb disposal experts. The ‘train the trainer’ programmes also help form Afghan trainers so that they can train their personnel effectively without the help of NATO.

Training the police in Iraq

One of the biggest elements of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I), established in September 2004, is the specialized training given to the Iraqi police force by the Italian Carabinieri regarding the protection of the country’s oil infrastructure. NTM-I’s Train the Trainers programme aims at providing the Iraqi Police with the ability to pursue training after the scheduled end of NTM-I in 2013.

Capacity building in Africa

The Alliance started its capacity-building support to the African Union in 2005 and the African Standby Force in 2007 in an effort to develop the Union’s long-term peacekeeping capabilities. NATO’s involvement with the African Union goes beyond capacity-building. It works to deliver military, human resource, legal and organizational expertise through a dedicated team based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and at Joint Force Command Lisbon.

Wider cooperation

Beyond these important missions, the Alliance continues to train civilians, military personnel and diplomats from member and partner countries at its many educational institutions and training centres. Some 19 Centres of Excellence, overseen by Allied Command Transformation, have been established all over the Alliance to train specialists in areas from winter warfare to cyber defence. Partnership for Peace Training Centres have also been established which focus on different aspects of the cooperation required for multinational peace-support and crisis-management operations. Through the ‘Education and Training for Defence Reform’ initiative, NATO has also provided a framework for cooperation for both military and civilian personnel in partner countries undergoing defence reforms.

Investing in the future of peace and security continues to be a priority for NATO as it continues to work with partner nations to improve capabilities and support reform.

For more information on different elements of NATO’s activities in the area of education and training, please see the links to the right.