Centres of Excellence

  • Last updated: 24 Jan. 2019 13:26

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.

Turkish field hospital.


  • 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

  • Role of the Centres of Excellence

    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 25 COEs with NATO accreditation. The working language of COEs is generally English.

  • NATO-accredited Centres of Excellence

    These include:

        1. Analysis and Simulation for Air Operations
        2. Civil-Military Cooperation
        3. Cold Weather Operations
        4. Combined Joint Operations from the Sea
        5. Command and Control
        6. Cooperative Cyber Defence
        7. Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices
        8. Counter Intelligence
        9. Crisis Management and Disaster Response
        10. Defence Against Terrorism
        11. Energy Security
        12. Explosive Ordnance Disposal
        13. Human Intelligence
        14. Joint Air Power
        15. Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
        16. Military Engineering
        17. Military Medicine
        18. Military Police
        19. Modelling and Simulation
        20. Mountain Warfare
        21. Naval Mine Warfare
        22. Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters
        23. Security Force Assistance
        24. Stability Policing
        25. Strategic Communications

    Centre for Analysis and Simulation of Air Operations (CASPOA)
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2008

    Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) COE
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2007

    Cold Weather Operations (CWO) COE
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2007

    Combined Joint Operations from the Sea (CJOS) COE
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2006

    Command and Control (C2) COE
    : 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
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2008

    Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) COE
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2010

    Counter Intelligence (CI) COE
    : 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
    Accreditation: 2015

    Crisis Management and Disaster Response (CMDR) COE
    : Sofia, Bulgaria
    Expertise: helping NATO, its members and partner countries in improving their capacity to deal with crises and disaster-response operations through collaborative partnerships.
    Framework Nation: Bulgaria
    Accreditation: 2015

    Defence Against Terrorism (DAT) COE
    : Ankara, Turkey
    Expertise:  defending against terrorism, providing training on counter-terror