NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International Military Staff

The International Military Staff (IMS) is the executive body of the Military Committee, NATO’s senior military authority.

It is responsible for preparing the assessments, evaluations and reports on all NATO military matters, which form the basis of discussion and decisions in the Military Committee (MC). The IMS also ensures that decisions and policies on military matters taken by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and the MC are implemented by the appropriate NATO military bodies.

The IMS comprises some 450 military personnel supported by approximately 90 civilian personnel. It is headed by a Director General and divided into five functional divisions and several branches and support offices. It is able to move swiftly and smoothly into a 24 hours a day, seven days a week crisis mode for a limited period of time without additional personnel.

  • Role and responsibilities

    The International Military Staff is the essential link between the political decision-making bodies of the Alliance and NATO’s Strategic Commanders (the Supreme Allied Commander Europe – SACEUR - and the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation - SACT) and their staffs, liaising closely with NATO’s civilian International Staff located in the same building in Brussels.

  • Working mechanism

    The IMS is headed by a Director General, at the level of a three star general or flag officer, assisted by 12 general/flag officers who head the divisions and administrative support offices within the IMS.

    Several key positions are located within or attached to the Office of the Director General of the IMS:

    • the Executive Coordinator (EXCO): the incumbent manages staff activities and controls the flow of information and communication, both within the IMS and between the IMS and other parts of NATO Headquarters;
    • the Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Adviser (PA&SCA): the incumbent advises the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the MC, and the Director General of the IMS on strategic communications and public affairs matters. The Adviser works closely with the office of the Chairman of NATO’s MC, acting as military spokesperson for the Chairman, and as the main source of information for all MC matters and activities;
    • the Financial Controller (FC): the incumbent advises key officials on all IMS financial and fiscal matters;
    • the Legal Officer (LO): this person provides guidance on all legal issues to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the MC, the Director General of the IMS and all organisations under the authority of this office, and the MC.
    • the NATO Office on Gender Perspectives (NOGP): they provide advice and support to the IMS on gender issues. It is the permanent focal point for collecting, providing and sharing information regarding national programmes, policies and procedures on these issues, including the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security (UNSCRs 1325 and 1820). It maintains liaison with the NATO IS and international organisations concerned with the integration of a gender perspective into military operations, as well as with gender related issues.

    The five divisions

    The IMS’ key role is to support the MC, and to do this it is organised into five functional divisions responsible for the following.

    • Plans and policy (P&P)
      The IMS develops and coordinates the MC’s contribution to NATO policy and planning matters, defence policy, strategic planning, special weapons policy and planning, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, defence and force planning, the NATO Response Force and capabilities in general.
    • Operations (OPS)
      The IMS supports the MC in developing operational plans and addressing questions about the NATO force posture and other military management issues regarding NATO’s role in international crises. It promotes and develops multinational training and exercises for NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries.
    • Intelligence (INT)
      The IMS provides day-to-day strategic intelligence support to the NATO Secretary General, the NAC, the MC, the Defence Policy and Planning Committee and other NATO bodies. It collates and assesses intelligence received from NATO member countries and commands. It also develops, maintains and implements basic intelligence policy, doctrine and documents.
    • Co-operation and regional security (C&RS)
      The IMS liaises with military contacts and cooperates within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and PfP programme, the NATO-Russia Council, the NATO-Ukraine Commission, the NATO-Georgia Commission, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and with individual partner countries across the globe. Military advice on NATO involvement in different aspects of disarmament, arms control and cooperative security issues is also developed.
    • Logistics and Resources (L&R)
      The IMS develops and coordinates the MC’s contribution to NATO strategic logistics and resource planning in support of NATO military bodies. It provides staff support to NATO policy and procedures within the framework of logistics, medical issues, armaments, Research & Technology, manpower and personnel, and investment and finance.

    Additional functions and offices

    • Consultation, Command and Control (C3)
      The NATO HQ Consultation, Command and Control Staff (NHQC3S), combines the communications elements of both the IMS and the IS. This means it is an integrated staff with IMS and IS personnel that serves the NAC, the MC and the C3 Board. Two of its branches are mainly coordination branches: one is focused on overall policy and governance of the C3 domain and the other focuses on the implementation aspects. The Information Assurance and Cyber Defence Branch, the Information Communities of Interest Services Branch and the Spectrum and C3 Infrastructure Branch are subject matter branches.
    • The NATO Situation Centre (SITCEN)
      The SITCEN is positioned between the IS and the IMS and consists of both civilian and military personnel. It is NATO Headquarters’ central agency for providing situational awareness throughout the headquarters, fully supporting the crisis management mechanism 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last updated: 09-May-2012 13:58