Chapter 17: Standardization and Interoperability
The NATO Standardization Process
1709. The NATO standardization process encompasses
the formulation and subsequent national agreement on SOs
which are based on standardization requirements from MNCs
and nations (top-down structure) and on standardization
proposals, which are, in most cases, generated by the specialized
NATO groups of experts (bottom-up structure). The process ends
with the implementation of approved STANAGs, APs and/or
bilateral/multilateral agreements developed from work in NATO fora.
1710. Nations are encouraged to ratify and implement
NATO standards. Implementation of STANAGs and APs
demonstrates the willingness of nations to strive for standardization.
1711. NATO Standardization is a broad process which may
be applied to any NATO activity. NATO standards are
normally classified into one of three main areas as follows, although
some standards may apply to more than one area:
standards are those standards which affect future and/or current
military practice, procedures or formats. They may apply among other things, to
such matters as concepts, doctrine, tactics,
techniques, logistics, training, organizations, reports, forms,
maps and charts.
standards are those standards which affect the characteristics of
future and/or current materiel to include telecommunications, data processing
and distribution. They may cover production codes
of practice as well as materiel specifications.
Materiel includes complete systems, including command,
control and communications systems, weapons systems,
sub-systems, assemblies, components, spare parts
and materials and consumables (including ammunition,
fuel, supplies, stores and consumable spares).
standards primarily concern terminology - which apply to
both the "operational" and the "materiel" fields - but this category also
includes standards which facilitate Alliance administration
in fields without direct military application (e.g.
reporting of economic statistics).
1712. In general operational standardization falls into the
area of responsibility of MAS while materiel standardization falls
into the area of responsibility of the CNAD. Other NATO bodies
such as the NATO C3 Board (NC3B), the Senior NATO
Logisticians' Conference (SNLC), the NPC, Research & Technology
Board (R&TB) and the IMS Divisions also deal with standardization.
1713. Standardization of terminology is essential for
a collective understanding of all documentation related
to standardization activities. The NATO Glossary of Terms
and Definitions (AAP-6) is the key NATO reference document
which provides official terms and definitions to be used.
Additionally, NATO specialist Glossary of Terms and Definitions
provide NATO approved terminology for specialized fields.
1714. Standardization must not hinder research and
development for new armaments and/or communications equipment nor
the pursuit of more efficient/appropriate processes and procedures.
On the contrary, by considering standardization implications in the
very early state of development, collaboration in equipment
programmes will be considerably enhanced.
1715. Operational and materiel standardization are
inter-dependent. Standardization in key operational areas, such
as concepts, doctrine, procedures and mission needs, will
greatly enhance prospects for standardization of materiel. In turn,
new technology will often require the reformulation of doctrine
and will almost always result in changes to operational
procedures. The full benefits of increased materiel standardization may
not be achieved unless there is extensive harmonization
of operational aspects.
1716. Operational standardization strives for the use
of common concepts, doctrines, procedures, practices or
formats to enhance operational interoperability of Alliance and PfP
forces. Objectives for materiel standardization strive for
the development and procurement of compatible,
interoperable, interchangeable or common materiel for Alliance and PfP
forces, as required.
Steps Within the Process
1717. The general steps in the standardization process
which fall under the direct responsibility of the TAs are defined in
AAP-3, Procedures for the Development, Preparation, Production
and the Updating of NATO Standardization Agreements
(STANAGs) and Allied Publications (APs). Such responsibility includes
the management and updating of all existing STANAGS and
APs, the identification, validation and agreement on new
standardization requirements, the achievement of nations' ratification and
- directly under MAS responsibility - the promulgation of
the agreed documents.
- Identifying Standardization
Requirements/Deficiencies. Standardization requirements are derived from either
the top-down or the bottom-up approaches as
described earlier. They identify the capability to be achieved
and the required level of standardization. Those that
form part of the NATO Standardization Programme (NSP)
are referred to as Alliance Standardization
- Formulating and Agreeing Priority
Standardization Objectives. Based on the agreed requirement,
priority standardization needs are identified and the
standard-ization objectives (referred to SOs within the NSP)
- Formulating or Updating of NATO
Standards. The formulating or updating of NATO standards is
inherently international in character and hence must be
coordinated internationally in the applicable NATO bodies. In view
of the wide range of Alliance activities for which
standards are desirable, the formulation of proposed NATO
standards will normally be decentralized. Formulation of
NATO standards can best be accomplished by multinational
bodies of national experts.
- Ratifying NATO Standards by Nations
Individually. Specific proposed standards may not be relevant to
all Alliance nations. A proposed standard may be
ratified and designated a NATO Standard if several
(not necessarily all) Alliance nations agree that it is
acceptable as a goal for implementation. Likewise Partner
nations can adopt NATO standards as a goal for implementation.
- Promulgating NATO
Standards. After sufficient nations have ratified the
proposed standard it will be promulgated by Chairman MAS.
- Implementing Agreed NATO Standards as a Matter
of National Policy. Implementation of agreed
NATO standards is a national responsibility. NATO
strongly encourages implementation of ratified STANAGs,
by observing, monitoring and reporting results on a
nation-by-nation and case-by-case basis.
- Verifying and Validating the Implementation of
Agreed NATO Standards. Verification of
standardization may be carried out in PSOs, exercises and other operations. The verification should be carried out on the basis of
a verification plan. Validation of verification
information may result in the adaptation and/or deletion of