Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW)

  • Last updated: 09 Apr. 2015 10:11

NATO is developing new, cutting-edge technologies and capabilities to protect troops and civilians against terrorist attacks. The aim of the Alliance’s Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW) is to prevent non-conventional attacks, such as suicide attacks with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and mitigate other challenges, such as attacks on critical infrastructure.


  • The DATPOW aims to develop technologies and measures against terrorism and other asymmetric threats to mitigate Allied critical shortfalls.
  • The programme is based on common funding - member countries pool resources within a NATO framework - with projects being led by one NATO nation or body and supported by others.
  • Projects cover topics such as the protection of forces, infrastructure and harbours with a view to enhancing NATO interoperability.
  • Successful projects include technologies to defend against mortar attacks, precision air drop technologies and protection of harbours and ports, to name a few.

More background information

  • A unique initiative by lead nations

    The DAT POW is a unique programme built on the principle of common funding. It is a fast route to capability development. Under the DAT POW, individual NATO countries, with support and contributions from other member countries and NATO bodies, lead projects to develop advanced technologies or counter-measures which meet the most urgent security needs in the face of terrorism.

    This programme was approved by NATO leaders at the 2004 Istanbul Summit to strengthen the Alliance’s contribution to combating terrorism by enhancing capability development, supporting operations and fostering partnerships.

    The DAT POW development is driven by the latest political guidance, provided by the 2010 Strategic concept and Lisbon Summit Declaration. It is influenced by NATO’s new counter-terrorism policy guidelines endorsed at the 2012 Chicago Summit

  • Three capability umbrellas to engage DAT POW stakeholders

    The DAT POW projects are rationalised under three capability umbrellas:

    • Incident management
    • Force protection and survivability
    • Network engagement.

    1) Incident management

    This umbrella covers training and development initiatives to improve organisation and coordination capabilities in the event of an attack.

    Protection of harbours and ports

    The safe and uninterrupted functioning of ports and harbours is critical to the global economy and it is essential that maritime assets be made as secure as possible. To enhance maritime protection, various technologies are being explored. These include sensor nets, electro-optical detectors, rapid-reaction capabilities and unmanned underwater vehicles. A maritime mission planning tool, known as “Safe Port”, is being developed under the leadership of Portugal. Ongoing work led by Poland aims to develop an underwater magnetic barrier to complement sonar systems currently used to detect underwater threats. Additional trials, experimentation and exercises are being organised by Iceland and the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation on protection of ports, civilian/military cooperation, protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and integration of multiple systems.

    2) Force protection and survivability

    This umbrella covers training and development initiatives “to minimise the vulnerability of personnel, facilities, equipment and operations to any threat and in all situations”.

    Reducing the vulnerability of wide-body civilian and military aircraft to potential threats such as man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs)

    A range of infrared and electronic counter-measures is under development. These have been applied to large aircraft, helicopters and fast jets. Every year, exercises and tests are organised to improve the systems and equipment.  The United Kingdom is the lead nation for this initiative and the NATO Air Force Armaments Group (NAFAG) has provided critical expertise and support to the annual field trials.

    Detecting, protecting against and defeating chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons

    Ideally, terrorists  should be prevented from using CBRN weapons.  Should prevention fail, there is a requirement to protect forces and populations against their effects. France, as the first lead nation in this effort, developed a work plan which included live exercises, CBRN agent sampling and identification analysis. A broad range of technologies were tested against a number of CBRN-related threats.

    Since 2012, the Czech Republic has been developing a prototype for chemical detection and annually, for training purposes, Canada organises Exercise Precise Response, exploring a scenario with a live CBRN agent. DAT POW also supports the Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence, in Vyskov, Czech Republic, in its efforts to set up CBRN Reach back capabilities, i.e. ensuring adequate CBRN expertise is available to the NATO Command Structure and Allied forces in theatres of operations.

    Countering improvised explosive devices

    This effort is led by several NATO bodies including the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) Centre of Excellence in Madrid, Spain. Various technologies to defeat IEDs have been explored, in particular stand-off detection, and C-IED information management solutions across the Alliance are being assessed. In 2012, DAT POW, with the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA), organised a route-clearance demonstration in Germany to improve doctrine, share best practice and standardize NATO route-clearance operations. Subsequently, the Military Engineering Centre of Excellence (MILENG COE), in Ingolstadt, Germany has furthered this work by improving the Allied Route Clearance doctrine and illustrating it at a 2014 demonstration. Additional C-IED-related projects led by NCIA involve automated data mining and scanning systems for passengers.

    Explosive ordnance disposal and consequence management

    Here the objective is to improve NATO’s capabilities, the training of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and management of the consequences of an explosion. DAT POW supports the annual Northern Challenge exercise, led by Iceland, which involves underwater EOD/IED and conventional munitions disposal (CMD), and is open to NATO and Partnership for Peace countries. DAT POW supports the 2014 NATO EOD demonstrations and trials, led by the NATO EOD Centre of Excellence in Trencin, Slovakia. The strong community of interest includes experts from partner countries, such as the Irish Defence Forces’ ordnance school.

    Developing non-lethal capabilities)

    The NATO operational community has stressed the need for better response capabilities to minimise collateral damage. If forces can only respond in a lethal manner, civilians and military alike are endangered, and mission failure or political fallout may result. Building on previous work led by Canada to identify non-lethal capabilities (NLC) for NATO forces, Germany is leading this initiative with a view to allowing forces to become familiar with various NLC, and promoting upcoming non-lethal technologies through exercises. The DAT POW Non-Lethal Capability Group will organise two exercises in 2015. Belgium and France are co-leading a project on standards for non-lethal weapons. In earlier work, the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation in La Spezia, Italy contributed to this domain by exploring the behavioural effects of non-lethal weapons.

    3) Network engagement

    This capability umbrella covers training and development to improve identification and targeting of key nodes of threat networks.

    Technologies and concept development for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and target acquisition

    The goal is to develop improved tools for early warning and identification of terrorists and their activities. To build on the improved intelligence/information-sharing achieved over the last decade in common operations and to capture these developments for the future, DAT POW supported Trial Unified Vision 2012 and 2014. Simulating a real-world operational environment, the trial sought to determine how well participants could analyse threat information and identify and track threats to form a cohesive intelligence picture, and how easily this could be shared. DAT POW also supports the NATO Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Centre of Excellence in Oradea, Romania, which is seeking to improve technical interoperability within the NATO HUMINT community and to analyse human aspects of the operational environment where NATO forces operate.


    Biometrics data are essential to protect forces in theatre, allowing them to identify known or suspected insurgents. NATO’s Strategic Commands have recognised that developing and improving this area is a military requirement.  A NATO biometrics programme of work and action plan have been developed to cover all the areas required for a full capability (doctrine, concept, standards, equipment, etc.). The DAT POW community supports this effort.

    Special Operations Forces community

    Recognised as one of the lead entities in the fight against terrorism, Special Operations Forces (SOF) are a crucial component of the DAT POW. DAT POW supported the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) in training forces with a mobile laboratory permitting forensic investigation of IED incidents in theatre. DAT POW now supports the development of a database for NATO special operation counter-terrorism activities.

  • Past activities

    In the past, DAT POW supported several other capability areas where there were requirements from forces in theatre.  These included Defence Against Mortar Attack (DAMA), Precision Air Drop, Protection against Rocket Propelled Grenades and Protection of Critical Infrastructure. These initiatives were closed once the short-term requirements had been satisfied.