24 NATO Centre of Excellence (COE) Directors and about 20 NATO representatives met for a conference from 05 to 08 October 2015 in The Hague. The 2015 COE Directors Conference has been hosted by the Civil-Military Cooperation COE (CCOE) and chaired by Colonel Roel Been.
COEs are one of the growth areas in NATO, funded by NATO nations. The overall number of COE staff has risen to 1100 persons, which is larger than the NATO Headquarters Supreme Allied Command Transformation (HQ SACT). Every COE offers recognized expertise and experience to the benefit of the Alliance. Thereby COEs are unique organizations dealing with specific subjects like for example Cyber Defense, Defense against Terrorism, Strategic Communications or Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC). See a complete overview of COEs here: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_68372.htm#
The aim of the COE Directors conference was to provide the primary venue to bring together all COE Directors and, upon invitation, equivalent representatives from NATO Bodies and Multinational Organizations. During the conference all participants were informed on recent developments, were encouraged to compare experiences and to discuss possible cooperation and projects. Furthermore these annual conference provided a forum for an exchange of views on the way ahead and thus, facilitate the directors’ networking in order to increase the individual and collective effectiveness of the Centers.
As example during the 2015 conference the COEs agreed to support each other by the exchange of Best Practices in terms of owning a NATO Department Head role. Many COEs are exploiting the area of Education & training by taking the responsibility as NATO Department Head in their discipline.
In Addition COE Directors agreed during the conference that the benefits of the COEs could be enlarged by a federated, collective effort towards current security challenges derived from the Wales Summit, such as hybrid threats, the readiness action plan, deterrence and resilience. To foster this a COE Strategic Communication framework will be prepared to convey the message and to increase visibility and understanding about COEs.
This event was the last conference for Mr. Tony Wedge who is the NATO Subject Matter Expert on COE Accreditation and Establishment. The Directors said “Good Bye” to Mr. Wedge – also called Mr. COE – handing over a present including all COE coins.