NATO’s bi-annual Familiarization Programme testifies to increased importance of Allies’ engagement with Partners

  • 07 Dec. 2022 - 16 Dec. 2022
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  • Last updated: 09 Dec. 2022 14:34

From 7 to 16 December 2022, NATO hosts military personnel from 20 Partner Nations for its bi-annual Familiarization Programme. The 8-day event, jointly organised by NATO Military Cooperative Security Division and SHAPE’s Partnership Directorate Military Cooperation Division, introduces Partner representatives to NATO’s Partnership frameworks, delving into the Alliance’s outreach programmes and activities.

IMS / PD partner staff officers familiarisation programme.

Welcoming the participants, the Deputy Director of Cooperative Security Division, Colonel Juan Martinez-Esparza opened the event by highlighting the importance of partnerships to NATO.He reflected on NATO’s new Strategic Concept, agreed earlier this year at the Madrid Summit, which aims to increase cooperation with existing Partners, while seeking out new ones. “Over the last 30 years, partnerships have become an essential tool to support many of NATO’s core activities, from shaping policy to building defence capacity, developing interoperability and managing crises. Through meetings like the Familiarization Programme, NATO, Allies and Partners are able to build on different but invaluable perspectives and find common solutions to common challenges”, highlighted Colonel Martinez-Esparza.

Held at NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels from 7 to 12 December, the first module of the Familiarization Programme allows Partner staff officers to explore NATO’s partnership toolbox. A number of briefings are provided, with a focus on the implications of the Madrid Summit, NATO-EU Relations, NATO’s Role in Counter Terrorism, as well as the developments in various existing partnership programmes – specifically, the Planning and Review Process, the Partnership Staff Post  programme and the Individually Tailored Partnership Programmes. 

Additional briefings expanded on the role of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre and the NATO Standardization Office in supporting Partners. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss existing partnerships with their respective Missions and Delegations to NATO. 

Closing the first part of the programme, Colonel Martinez-Esparza reiterated the value such events bring to the Alliance. “NATO’s engagement with global partners is taking on increasing importance in a complex security environment, where many of the challenges the Alliance faces are global and no longer bound by geography. Over the last five days, we have fostered mutual understanding and familiarised our Partners with the way NATO functions”, adding that “this programme lays the groundwork for better and more effective discussions on common approaches to shared challenges, now and moving forward – as we strive to improve the effectiveness and readiness of our responses”. 

The second portion of the programme, run by SHAPE’s Partnership Directorate Military Cooperation Division, will be held from 13 to 16 December 22, in Mons. Partners will participate in more in-depth exchanges covering diverse aspects of NATO-Partner military and defence cooperation.

The Familiarization Programme is one of the highlights of NATO’s military cooperation with Partners. The programme provides Partner staff officers serving in partnership-related posts in NATO, national defence or military institutions with a detailed overview of the Alliance’s outreach programmes and activities. This iteration bears particular importance as it builds on the Madrid Summit and the newly adopted Strategic Concept, which cements Allies’ commitment to enhancing existing partnerships and to expanding to potential new interlocutors beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – with a view to address common global security challenges, in a way that meet the interests of both Allies and partners.