NATO Standardization Office

  • Last updated: 09 Jun. 2017 13:59

The NATO Standardization Office (NSO) initiates, coordinates, supports and administers NATO standardization activities, which are conducted under the authority of the Committee for Standardization (CS) -- the committee responsible for standardization policy. The NSO assists NATO’s Military Committee in developing military operational standards. These activities foster NATO standardization with the goal of enhancing the interoperability and operational effectiveness of Alliance military forces.


  • The NSO is an independent office which initiates, coordinates, supports and administers NATO standardization activities.
  • The Director manages the standardization activities of the NSO and is responsible for the efficient functioning and administration of the Office.

  • Role

    The NSO initiates, coordinates, supports and administers standardization activities conducted under the authority of the Committee for Standardization (CS). The Director of the NSO is the principal advisor to the Military Committee (MC) on the development and coordination of standardization activities. He supports and assesses the activities of the MC Standardization Boards (MCSBs) and ensures that a satisfactory liaison is maintained between these boards and other Alliance standardization bodies.

    The DNSO is responsible for carrying out decisions of the CS and implementing its guidance. It also addresses the standardization priorities of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and of the Secretary General. Moreover, the NSO supports the NATO Defence Planning Process, which is the primary means to identify the required capabilities and promote their timely and coherent development and acquisition by Allies. Additionally, it encourages implementation of Standardization Agreements (STANAGs) through defence planning. A STANAG is a NATO document that specifies the agreement of member countries to implement a standard. There are more than 1,200 STANAGs promulgated in NATO. For instance, NATO has adopted a standard in the naval operational domain governing multinational maritime support of humanitarian operations or for emergency markings on the outside and the inside of aircraft.

    The NSO publishes NATO standardization documents, and further manages a database of NATO standardization documentation.

    The Office also maintains the NATO terminology directives and programme and management tools (including a database for the Alliance, such as NATOTerm). It coordinates and facilitates the standardization of terms and definitions required for use throughout the Alliance. Terminology helps establish a common language which underpins standardization and interoperability.

  • Working mechanism

    The MC exercises supervision and corporate oversight as well as promotes best practices.  The MC and the CS develop annual objectives for the NSO in their respective areas and approve the Director’s annual progress report.

    The Director is responsible for the efficient functioning and administration of his staff of approximately 45 people in accordance with guidance from the MC and the CS. He promulgates all ratified STANAGs and Allied Publications (APs).  He liaises directly with the chairmen of NATO committees, staffs, the Strategic Commands and communicates directly with any NATO command, agency or staff on matters of NATO standardization.  The Director also liaises with civilian standards-developing organisations (SDOs) and acts as the NATO standardization management staff focal point with those organisations.

  • Evolution

    Shortly after the establishment of the Alliance, it was recognised that the coordinated development of policies, procedures and equipment of NATO members held great potential for enhancing the military effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization. As a result, the Military Office for Standardization (MOS) was established in London in January 1951 for the purpose of fostering the standardization of operational and administrative practices.

    In 1971, the MOS moved from London to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, where, following the 1998-2000 review of the NATO Standardization Process, the MOS was combined with the Office of NATO Standardization. The latter addressed broader standardization issues such as identifying overall Alliance standardization goals and coordination between operational and material activities.

    In August 2001, the NATO Standardization Agency (NSA) was granted expanded responsibilities for the coordination of standardization activities within NATO.

    In July 2014, as a result of the NATO Agencies Reform, the NSA became - without change in its mission, function and activities - the NSO, an integrated NATO Headquarters staff element reporting to the MC and the CS.