Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW)

  • Last updated: 03 Jul. 2018 09:10

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 DAT POW 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, including the 2010 Strategic concept, NATO’s 2012 counter-terrorism policy guidelines and guidance on NATO’s enhanced role in the international fight against terrorism endorsed by NATO’s leaders at their May 2017 meeting.

  • 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 explored. To date, these have included sensor nets, electro-optical detectors, rapid-reaction capabilities, underwater magnetic barriers and unmanned underwater vehicles. A maritime mission planning tool was developed under the leadership of Portugal and 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 and protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In 2018, under the leadership of France, DAT POW supported “CUT AWAY”, a multinational harbour exploration and clearance exercise.

    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.

    Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and defending against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats

    Ideally, terrorists will be prevented from acquiring and using CBRN weapons.  Should prevention fail, NATO is committed to protecting its forces, territory and populations against their effects and to supporting recovery efforts.  DAT POW supports the Alliance’s overall capability to meet these commitments through projects covering detection, identification and monitoring of CBRN substances, CBRN information management, physical protection, hazard management and CBRN medical countermeasures. DAT POW also supports training exercises, including those conducted with live agents.

    DAT POW has also supported the Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence, in Vyskov, Czech Republic, in establishing and enhancing its CBRN Reach back capability, i.e. ensuring 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. C-IED information management solutions across the Alliance are being assessed. DAT POW supports the annual “Northern Challenge” event, led by Iceland, which exercises counter-IED and IED disposal abilities.

    Explosive ordnance disposal and consequence management

    Here the objective is to improve NATO’s capabilities, through the training of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and optimised management of the consequences of an explosion. DAT POW supports NATO EOD demonstrations and trials, led by the NATO EOD Centre of Excellence in Trencin, Slovakia. With DAT POW support, the demining community is trialling integrated exoskeletons. 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 and Belgium, the United States is currently leading an activity to demonstrate the use of non-lethal weapons to counter low, slow, small unmanned aerial systems (LSS UAS). These capabilities include radio frequency counter-measures, directed energy systems and nets.

    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 has supported the “Unified Vision” series. Simulating a real-world operational environment, these trials challenge participants’ ability to analyse threat information, to identify and track threats to form a cohesive intelligence picture, and to share this intelligence product. DAT POW has also supported the NATO Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Centre of Excellence in Oradea, Romania, in improving technical interoperability within the NATO HUMINT community and in analysing 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.  NATO’s biometrics programme of work and action plan cover all the areas required for a full capability (doctrine, concept, standards, equipment, etc.). The DAT POW community also supports an initiative to develop a biometrics capability in a maritime environment.

    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. NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) receive DAT POW support for their development of a SOF Aviation Implementation Roadmap to contribute to the enhancement of Allied SOF Air domain. DAT POW also supports field training for interoperability of Allies’ and partners’ SOF.