Bi-annual Familiarization Programme illustrates NATO’s desire for stronger cooperation with partners

  • 06 Dec. 2023 - 15 Dec. 2023
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  • Last updated: 08 Dec. 2023 11:53

From 6 to 15 December 2023, NATO hosts 30 military personnel from 23 Partner Nations for its bi-annual Familiarization Programme. The 8-day event, jointly organised by NATO’s Cooperative Security Division and SHAPE’s Partnership Directorate Military Cooperation Division, provides Partner military representatives with an opportunity to explore the Alliance’s outreach programmes and activities.

From 6 to 15 December 2023, NATO hosted 30 military personnel from 23 Partner Nations for its bi-annual Familiarization Programme.

The first part of the programme was held at NATO HQ in Brussels, where participants were welcomed by the Director of the Cooperative Security Division, Major General Dacian-Tiberiu Șerban. In his remarks, Major General Serban noted the changed security environment and the consequences for not only, Allied Nations, but also Partner Nations. “From Russia's significant and direct threat to the Alliance, to addressing the consequences of climate change and countering terrorism, the complexity of today’s strategic environment poses an ongoing challenge for NATO and our Partners. Collaboration and cooperation remain key to mitigating these challenges and responding effectively”, he underlined.

He also referenced NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept, and the decisions taken at the Madrid and Vilnius Summits, which aim to reinforce cooperation between the Alliance and existing Partners, as well as seek out new partnerships with like-minded Nations. “Our partnerships extend from Latin America to East Asia, encompassing the Balkans, the Black Sea region, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indo-Pacific. We are also looking to expand our partnership network, to Nations that share our values, security interests, and commitment to upholding the Rules-Based International Order. Our objective is to enhance our global awareness, strengthen cooperation, and fortify our collective security and resilience”, noted Major General Șerban.

The next day, the Partner military representatives received an introduction to the standardisation, the initiatives in place for Partners to enable it, and the role it plays in building interoperability amongst allied forces and between partner and allied forces. They were then briefed on the activities undertaken by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, in support of Allies and Partners, including with ongoing medical and practical support to Ukraine, as well as earlier this year, the support provided to Slovenia, after the country was hit by devastating floods. 

The afternoon was dedicated to a discussion on the ongoing challenge posed by terrorism, especially to NATO’s southern flank, northern Africa and the Middle East. The military representatives were briefed on NATO’s newest initiatives to counter the threat, including the creation of an independent experts’ group to review NATO’s approach to its southern neighbourhood, and the appointment of a new Special Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism. 

Closing the meeting, Major General Serban appealed to Partner Nations to send military personnel to the positions that are made available to them within the NATO command structure. “Since Finland has become a NATO Ally and Sweden will follow shortly, a number of partner positions have become available to other nations, who may want to benefit from the experience and expertise offered by the Alliance. In these dynamic and critical times, as we face new and more sophisticated threats to our security and defence, NATO and its Partners have much to learn from each other and much to contribute to each other. If we work together responsibly, collectively and intelligently, to defend our countries, societies and populations, then we will be even more successful in responding to these challenges”, he concluded. 

From 11 to 15 December 2023, the Familiarization Programme will move to SHAPE for a series of presentations and discussions centred on practical military cooperation.