NATO achieves important milestone in reform of its Agencies

  • 23 Jan. 2012 -
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  • Last updated: 25 Jan. 2012 11:59

Two recent high-level appointments mark an important milestone in the reform of NATO’s Agencies. A phased approach to reducing the number of Agencies and streamlining their management was launched by Allied defence ministers in June 2010, aimed at establishing a new structure by July 2012.

Flags of the 28 NATO member countries

The aim of Agency Reform is to improve governance, effectiveness and efficiency, and ultimately bring savings. Functions currently performed by 14 NATO Agencies will be merged into three new bodies, namely the Communications and Information (C&I) Agency, the Support Agency and the Procurement Agency.

Qualified guidance and change-management skills will be essential to design a new structure that responds to national and operational requirements, while retaining the finest resources.

The North Atlantic Council has appointed Koen Gijsbers, Major General (ret), a Dutch citizen, as the General Manager of the NATO C&I Agency.

Having recently coordinated a major restructuring at the Ministry of Defence in the Netherlands, Major General Gijsbers was previously responsible for IT and business management policy at the Ministry where he was also the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and cyber leader. Prior to that, the General served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (ACOS C4I) of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia. He also brings more than 30 years of operational experience to NATO, commanding units up to the brigade level.

Gijsbers is keen to work with the high quality work force in the current agencies and IT providers that will come under his responsibility by the 1st of July. “I feel a sense of opportunity that people see to give even better support to operations and NATO’s business processes than already achieved through merging the current organisations.” He is dedicated to get the shared service concept implemented and make the new agency the principle IT provider for NATO, to allow for the effectiveness, efficiencies and cost savings that the NATO nations want to achieve.

Mike Lyden, a US citizen and retired Rear Admiral in the US Navy Supply Corps, has been named General Manager of the NATO Support Agency.

With over 30 years of senior business and logistics experience in the US Navy and Defense Logistics Agency, he has been actively engaged in transforming the support posture for US forces around the world. Previously he worked with NATO and its Logistics Committee when he served as the Director for Logistics and Security Assistance (J-4) at the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

A keen advocate of providing the best possible support to the operational forces, Lyden is also committed to the objectives of NATO’s Smart Defence and its Agency Reform, and sees the new Support Agency as a critical enabler to NATO’s continued success in these initiatives. He believes that "the new agency is an excellent opportunity to integrate NATO’s existing logistics and support organizations into a single enterprise, focused on “Smart Support”, that fully leverages the best practices and successes of each, while preserving autonomy in execution and lowering overall costs to the NATO Nations."

Lyden is impressed with the extraordinary professionalism and accomplishments that have been achieved by the existing organizations which will become part of the new agency, particularly in support of on-going NATO operations. He looks forward to the opportunity to work with all of them.

Taking up their posts from the beginning of January 2012, the new General Managers will be responsible for developing a detailed agency design and a transition plan for the implementation of the new structure. It will be important to ensure continuity in capability delivery and services provision, while working towards organizational change in line with the strategic objectives of the Alliance. The new appointees will also be expected to prepare plans to achieve cost reductions and to build up a new establishment which strives continuously for improvement.

The appointment of the new Heads of Agencies is considered one of the three key enablers of success for Agencies Reform, together with the availability of change-management expertise and continued support for the leadership and staff of current Agencies. Achieving this milestone indicates that the reform process is on track and that the new Agencies will be stood up by 1 July 2012.