International Military Staff
The International Military Staff (IMS) is the executive body of the Military Committee (MC), NATO’s senior military authority.
- The IMS consists of a staff of approximately 500, composed solely of military and civilian personnel from NATO member countries, working from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
- It provides strategic and military advice and staff support for the Military Committee, which advises the North Atlantic Council on military aspects of policy, operations and transformation within the Alliance.
- The IMS also ensures that NATO decisions and policies on military matters are implemented by the appropriate NATO military bodies.
- It is headed by a Director General and is comprised of five divisions.
The IMS 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. Its strength lies in exchanging information and views with the staffs of the Military Representatives, the civilian International Staff (IS), the Strategic Commanders, the multinational Working Groups, and NATO Agencies, ensuring effective and efficient staff work.
The role of the IMS is to provide the best possible strategic military advice and staff support for the Military Committee (MC). It is responsible for preparing assessments, studies on NATO military issues identifying areas of strategic and operational interest and proposing courses of action. Its work enables the Military Representatives of the Alliance’s 28 member countries to deal with issues rapidly and effectively, ensuring that the MC provides the North Atlantic Council (NAC) – NATO’s principal political decision-making body – with consensus-based advice on all military aspects of policy, operations and transformation within the Alliance.
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. It is able to move swiftly into a 24/7 crisis mode for a limited period of time without additional personnel.
Several key positions are located within or attached to the Office of the Director General of the IMS:
- Office of the Executive Coordinator (EXCO): EXCO manages staff activities and controls the flow of information and communication, both within the IMS as well as between the IMS and other parts of NATO Headquarters. EXCO is the Secretary to the Military Committee , directly answerable to the Chairman and also prepares MC visits and provides secretarial support to the MC;
- Office of the Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Advisor (PASCAD): PASCAD advises the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the MC, and the Director General of the IMS on strategic communications and public affairs matters. The Advisor works closely with the office of the Chairman of the Military Committee, acting as military spokesperson for the Chairman, and as the main source of information for all MC matters and activities;
- Office of the Financial Controller (FC): the FC advises key officials on all IMS financial and fiscal matters;
- Office of the Legal Officer (LEGAD): LEGAD 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.
- Office of the Gender Advisor (GENAD): GENAD provides 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 United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCRs 1325 and 1820). It maintains close liaison with the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security, the Strategic Commands, International Staff and international organisations concerned with the integration of a gender perspective into military operations, as well as with gender-related issues.
The IMS divisions
The IMS’ key role is to support the MC, and to do this it is organised into functional divisions responsible for the following:
The Intelligence (INT) Division provides intelligence support to all NATO HQ elements, NATO member states and NATO Commands. It also provides strategic warning and situational awareness to all NATO HQ elements. The Division’s core activities are: developing a NATO Intelligence framework, architecture and intelligence capabilities; providing customer-oriented policies and NATO Agreed Intelligence Assessments; advising on intelligence-sharing matters and conducting intelligence liaison activities.
The Operations and Plans (O&P) Division closely monitors NATO operations, follows exercises and training and provides advice on all related ongoing and unfolding military operations. It also follows the implementation of decisions taken by the MC with regard to NATO operations. The Division’s core activities are: NATO and NATO-led current and unfolding military operations; operation plans and crisis management procedures / arrangements; NATO education, training, exercises and evaluation events and/or systems; NATO military responsibilities in the fields of Air Defence (AD), Airspace Management, Air Traffic Management (ATM), Air Policing (AP), Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD), NAEW (NATO Airborne Early Warning), Electronic Warfare (EW), Information Operations (InfoOps) and Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC).
The Policy and Capabilities (P&C) Division has the military lead within NATO HQ for all matters related to Alliance defence policy and strategic planning. This Division provides strategic military advice across three broad areas: Strategic Policy and Concepts; Nuclear Deterrence Policy and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence Policy; and Arms Control and non-Proliferation Policy, Defence Planning, Capability Development and Delivery including Armaments as well as Science and Technology aspects.
The Cooperative Security (CS) Division develops and implements military Cooperative Security policy and is responsible for the military contacts and aspects of NATO’s Cooperation with NATO’s current 41 partner countries and all other non-partner countries interested in performing military activities with NATO. In addition, the Division is responsible for NATO’s coordination with international organisations and non-governmental organisations, such as the United Nations, European Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, African Union, Gulf Cooperation Council, International Committee of the Red Cross, and many more.
The Logistics and Resources (L&R) Division develops and defines policies and principles, plans and concepts on all matters concerning logistics, medical, civil emergency planning, military manpower and civilian personnel functions, NATO medals and NATO common-funded resources. In addition, the Division is the IMS’ focal point for the three resource pillars: NATO infrastructure investment, military budget and manpower. The L&R Division acts as a facilitator with nations in the Logistics, Medical and Resource Committees.
Joint IS/IMS Bodies:
The NATO Headquarters C3 Staff (NHQC3S) supports the development of policy standards and provides analysis and advice to NATO in the Consultation, Command and Control (C3) domain. This Division has an integrated staff (IS/IMS) and reports to both the Director General of the IMS and the Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment while advising the NAC through the C3 Board and the MC on C3. The NHQC3S also works closely with the Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges in support of the Alliance in all cyber defence matters and provides MC advice on its military aspects. Additionally, the NHQC3S supports the C3 Capability Area Manager in the coordination of C3 Capabilities.
The NATO Situation Centre (SITCEN) is designed to provide situational awareness and alerting to the NAC and the MC in fulfilling their respective functions during peace, in periods of tension and crisis and for high-level exercises. This is achieved through the receipt, exchange and dissemination of information from all available internal and external sources. SITCEN also acts as the link with similar facilities of member countries and the Strategic Commands, including the SHAPE Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), as well as selected international organisations, as appropriate.
The NATO Standardization Office (NSO) is a single, integrated body, composed of military and civilian staff with the authority to initiate, coordinate, support and administer standardization activities conducted under the authority of the Committee for Standardization. The NSO is the Military Committee’s lead agent for the development, coordination and assessment of operational standardization.