Centres of Excellence
Centres of Excellence (COEs) are international military organisations that train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries. They assist in doctrine development, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability and capabilities, and test and validate concepts through experimentation. They offer recognised expertise and experience that is of benefit to the Alliance, and support the transformation of NATO, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the Alliance.
- COEs cover a wide variety of areas such as civil-military operations, cyber defence, military medicine, energy security, naval mine warfare, defence against terrorism, cold weather operations, and counter-IED.
- Allied Command Transformation has overall responsibility for COEs and is in charge of the establishment, accreditation, preparation of candidates for approval, and periodic assessments of the centres.
- COEs are nationally or multi-nationally funded. NATO does not directly fund COEs nor are they part of the NATO Command Structure.
More background information
COEs generally specialise in one functional area and act as subject-matter experts in their field. They distribute their in-depth knowledge through training, conferences, seminars, concepts, doctrine, lessons learned and papers.
In addition to giving NATO and partner country leaders and units the opportunity to augment their education and training, COEs also help the Alliance to expand interoperability, increase capabilities, aid in the development of doctrine and standards, conduct analyses, evaluate lessons learned and experiment in order to test and verify concepts.
COEs work alongside the Alliance even though NATO does not directly fund them and they are not part of the NATO Command Structure. They are nationally or multi-nationally funded and are part of a supporting network, encouraging internal and external information exchange to the benefit of the Alliance. The overall responsibility for COE coordination and utilisation within NATO lies with Allied Command Transformation (ACT), in coordination with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
Currently, there are 24 COEs. They all have NATO accreditation. The working language of COEs is generally English.
- Analysis and Simulation for Air Operations
- Civil-Military Cooperation
- Cold Weather Operations
- Combined Joint Operations from the Sea
- Command and Control
- Cooperative Cyber Defence
- Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices
- Counter Intelligence
- Crisis Management and Disaster Response
- Defence Against Terrorism
- Energy Security
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal
- Human Intelligence
- Joint Air Power
- Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
- Military Engineering
- Military Medicine
- Military Police
- Modelling and Simulation
- Mountain Warfare
- Naval Mine Warfare
- Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters
- Stability Policing
- Strategic Communications
Centre for Analysis and Simulation of Air Operations (CASPOA)
Location: Lyon, France
Expertise: command and control in joint and multinational air operations. The centre uses computer-assisted exercises (CAX) and command-post exercises (CPX) to achieve this objective. The COE also analyses lessons learned from both real operations and exercises to aid in training personnel and developing simulation tools.
Framework Nation: France
Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) COE
Location: The Hague, the Netherlands
Expertise: improving civil-military interaction and cooperation between NATO, Sponsoring Nations and other military and civil groups by utilising the skills and expertise of CIMIC’s own staff. The centre is also open to other international organisations (European Union, non-governmental organisations and scientific institutions).
Framework Nations: Germany and the Netherlands
Cold Weather Operations (CWO) COE
Location: Bodø, Norway
Expertise: focuses on operations in the extreme cold and collaborates with other institutions, for instance the Mountain Warfare COE in Slovenia.
Framework Nation: Norway
Combined Joint Operations from the Sea (CJOS) COE
Location: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Expertise: countering global security challenges by improving the ability of the Sponsoring Nations and NATO to conduct combined joint operations from the sea. It also advises the Alliance on how to improve multinational education, training, doctrine and interoperability on maritime operations.
Framework Nation: The United States
Command and Control (C2) COE
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Expertise: providing expertise on all aspects of the Command and Control (C2) process with a focus on the operational environment. It also assists NATO with exercises and assessment processes and supports ACT Headquarters with policy, doctrine, strategy and concept development, and provides C2 training.
Framework Nation: The Netherlands
Accreditation: in 2008
Cooperative Cyber Defence (CCD) COE
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Expertise: fostering cooperation, capabilities and information-sharing on cyber security between NATO countries using, for instance, exercises, law and policy workshops, technical courses and conferences to prepare NATO and Sponsoring Nations to detect and fight cyber attacks. It also conducts research and training in several areas of cyber warfare.
Framework Nation: Estonia
Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) COE
Location: Madrid, Spain
Expertise: enhancing the capabilities needed to counter, reduce and eliminate threats from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by offering multinational courses for C-IED experts.
Framework Nation: Spain
Counter Intelligence (CI) COE
Location: Kraków, Poland
Expertise: helping to expand the capabilities of the Alliance, its member countries and partners by providing comprehensive expertise in the area of counter-intelligence. It aims to act as a catalyst for NATO adaptation and operations by supporting the development, promotion and implementation of new policies, concepts, strategies and doctrine that transform and enhance NATO counter-intelligence capabilities and interoperability.
Framework Nations: Poland and Slovakia
Crisis Management and Disaster Response (CMDR) COE
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Expertise: helping NATO, its members and partner countries in improving their capacity to deal with crises and disaster-response ope