Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP)

  • Last updated: 16 Feb. 2021 20:50

The Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) is a vehicle for reform, providing tailored practical support to individual countries in developing and reforming their professional military education institutions. Through faculty development, curriculum development and peer-to-peer consultations, DEEP fosters defence capacity and institution building. By enhancing democratic institutions, it makes an important contribution to NATO’s efforts to project stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.


  • The DEEP Programme is demand-driven to meet national needs in support of objectives which are laid out in bilateral partnership cooperation programmes between NATO and individual nations.
  • Expert advice is offered to defence education institutions seeking to become intellectually interoperable with the Alliance.
  • With the support of more than 600 experts from approximately 75 defence education institutions in NATO member states and partner countries, DEEP assists host countries to respond to the most pressing requirements for modernisation and reform.
  • Currently, DEEP initiatives are ongoing in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iraq (as part of the NATO Mission in Iraq), Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Serbia, Tunisia, and Ukraine.


  • The foundation of DEEP

    At the NATO Summit in Istanbul in 2004, Allies launched the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB), which was endorsed by leaders from partner countries in a meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). PAP-DIB reflects common views on modern and democratically responsible defence institutions. It provides a definition of defence reform and a framework for common reflection and exchange of experience on related problems. It aims to assist interested partners to reform and restructure their defence institutions to meet their needs and international commitments.

    To support the implementation of the defence education component of PAP-DIB, in February 2006, Allies launched the Education and Training for Defence Reform Initiative. Its aim is to create an EAPC-wide collaborative mechanism and tools to help implement PAP-DIB by supporting education of civilian and military personnel in efficient and effective management of national defence institutions under civil and democratic control. This led to the development of the Defence Education Enhancement Programme by NATO together with the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfP Consortium).

    Support for defence education, training and capacity-building was reaffirmed in a new Policy for an Active Engagement in Cooperative Security: a More Efficient and Flexible Partnership Policy agreed by NATO Foreign Ministers in April 2011.

    At successive NATO Summits – most recently, at the Brussels Summit in July 2018 – Allies have declared their commitment to strengthening cooperation with partners, upon request, to build stronger defence institutions, improve good governance, enhance their resilience, provide for their own security, and more effectively contribute to the fight against terrorism. This investment in partners’ security contributes to Alliance security.

    The relevance of defence education

    There is a clear role for defence education in developing stable defence and military institutions. The defence and related security sector require an integrated strategic approach. Joint training and joint planning with partners and representatives from international organisations and civil society are especially important. Defence education cultivates an aspiration to excellence and contributes to NATO’s efforts to project stability and build defence capacity in the region.

    Building up a good defence education system takes time. Modernising defence training and education provides an important opportunity to respond to the prevailing deficits in global governance. To get military education right, armed forces must have a clear and comprehensive vision of the military education and training system for officers – from the cadet course training lieutenants to the colonels’ course to educate strategists. Research and education must be tied together. To maintain a sound education system, curricula ought to be developed by education professionals in dialogue with defence staffs and respective institutions.

  • What is the DEEP Programme?

    DEEP works with partner nations to help identify the needs and gaps of education institutions in the defence and military domain. The two main components – curriculum development and faculty development – are bolstered by dialogue between institutions in partner and NATO countries as well as peer-to-peer consultations among subject-matter experts.

    Institutional adaptation

    DEEP helps partners to modernise and professionalise the organisational structure of professional military education institutions and provides solutions to build quality assurance processes within the system.

    Curriculum development – what to teach

    The DEEP Programme works closely with professional military education institutions to assist in the development of specific curricula on virtually any subject requested by the partner nation. To support this work, NATO and the PfP Consortium have produced seven reference curricula on Defence Institution Building, on Professional Military Education for Officers, on Professional Military Education for Non-Commissioned Officers, on Cybersecurity, on Counterinsurgency, on Counter-Terrorism, and on Building Integrity, as well as a reference guidance on Non-Commissioned Officers Corps Professional Development

    Faculty development – how to teach

    DEEP features specialised engagement on pedagogy to provide institutions and instructors with access to the latest teaching methods and to support their efforts to foster critical thinking in the classroom.

    Relying on voluntary contributions, NATO steers policy and the PfP Consortium leads on academic support facilitating the network of institutions and individual academics and practitioners who contribute through the PfP Consortium's Education Development Working Group.

    Policy Academics
    DEEP experts Education Development Working Group
    NATO International Staff Faculty Development
    NATO International Military Staff Curriculum Development
    Allied Command Transformation Academic Leads

    In an effort to support the growing demands for assistance in the development of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Corps with regards to its professionalization and education, DEEP has established an NCO Working Group to meet partners’ requests. The main focus for NCO DEEP is the development of professional military education on the request of the Partner Nation seeking assistance. However, sometimes these efforts also identify areas that are necessary to develop a professional NCO Corps but lie beyond the immediate scope of education (e.g. improve the roles and responsibilities of their NCOs, or to establish command teams at all level of commands). With these additional recommendations it allows armed forces to modernize their NCO Corps in order to provide capabilities that will not only support their nation’s priorities but as will support NATOs requirements. Therefore, with the DEEP, NATO started to offer to its partners NCO Corps Professional Development as a vector for transformation of respective countries´ military organisation in order to change the mindset of the importance of having a professional NCO Corps.

    The DEEP Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Portal  is a platform for exchanging knowledge and generating ideas related to distance learning, and the popularization/promotion/dissemination of ideas. The DEEP ADL Portal is intended to be a comprehensive solution that does not only allow deeper cooperation within the programme, but also influences its popularization/dissemination and thus increase the reach of the programme. At the same time, it creates a compendium of expertise in the use and/or implementation of new technologies for distance learning on-line education and training.

    Annual Clearing House on Defence Education

    NATO draws on an ad-hoc network of contributors who offer their services through an annual Clearing House on Defence Education that serves as a forum for Allies and partners to coordinate efforts and inform institutions and countries about the status of the various DEEP programmes. Led by Operations Division and with the support of the PfP Consortium, the annual Clearing House is an effective tool to identify partner requirements and align them with donor expertise.

  • How does the DEEP Programme work?

    Any NATO partner country that has an individual bilateral cooperation plan with the Alliance can request the development of a DEEP programme. When a country requests a DEEP programme, a multinational DEEP assessment team visits the country to scope out the potential programme with their interlocutors. Based on the assessment visit, the DEEP team creates a proposed action plan, usually with a three-year duration. Once the partner approves the action plan and funding is identified, the DEEP academic lead assembles and allocates the appropriate expertise from a vast transatlantic network of experts that is managed jointly by NATO and the PfP Consortium’s Education Development Working Group.

    Measures of effectiveness

    The level of progress and transformation depends on how much effort education institutions make to operationalise change derived from the conduct of DEEP activities, particularly in the areas of faculty development and curriculum development. Categories of measure of effectiveness vary from country to country and the following are identified as the most relevant: 

    • Adoption of modern professional military education academic structures and degree requirements;
    • Adoption of modern teaching methodologies by professional military education faculty;
    • Inclusion of new subject matter in existing course curricula and development of new courses;
    • Adoption of Non-Commissioned Officers’ Education;
    • Support of Senior Partner Nation and Defence Education Institution Leadership for DEEP programmes;
    • Contribution of Partner Nation Educators and NCO Experts (Military and Civilian) in DEEP programmes.

    DEEP objectives are met when the partner’s professional military education institution is self-sufficient and no longer requires external assistance, its curriculum satisfies all course needs, and a process exists to ensure a continuous curriculum review. The professional military education institution faculty should be able to teach all classes using modern teaching techniques and have an internal sustainment capability to train their new faculty in modern teaching methodology.

    DEEP in numbers

    2013: 85 events, 162 Allied experts, 245 partner country instructors
    2014: 165 events, 309 Allied experts, 352 partner country instructors
    2015: 186 events, 324 Allied experts, 566 partner country instructors
    2016: 211 events, 390 Allied experts, 355 partner country instructors
    2017: 198 events, 426 Allied experts, 331 partner country instructors
    2018: 218 events, 473 Allied experts, 372 partner country instructors
    2019: 315 events, 658 Allied experts, 613 partner country instructors
    2020: 206 events, 797 Allied experts, 553 partner country instructors