The Role of the International Military Staff

  • Last updated: 13 Jan. 2012 13:24

The International Military Staff (IMS) is the executive agency of the Military Committee. It provides staff support to the Military Committee and is responsible for the preparation of assessments, studies and other papers on NATO military matters.

The IMS also ensures that decisions and policies on military matters are implemented by the appropriate NATO military bodies. The IMS provides the essential link between the political decision-making bodies of the Alliance and the NATO Strategic Military Commanders (SACEUR and SACT) and their staffs.

The IMS comprises approximately 380 military personnel. They are coming from all member nations, with the exception of Iceland, which has no military establishment. They are all qualified experts in different fields of expertise and they work in an international capacity for the common interest of the Alliance. They co-operate on the basis of a common understanding of military doctrine and NATO procedures, ably supported by a nucleus of 85 civilian personnel well versed in NATO administration.


The IMS is organised into five functional divisions (plans and policy, operations, intelligence, co-operation and regional security, and logistic, armaments and resources) as well as a number of branches and support offices. It is a well balanced organisation that is able to move swiftly and smoothly into a 24 hour, 7 days a week crisis mode without additional personnel. The IMS is headed by a Director, at the level of a three star general or flag officer, at present Lieutenant General Jürgen Bornemann, a German 3-star flag officer. He is assisted in his tasks by 12 flag officers who head the divisions.