Rocks, pebbles and sand – or what is really important

Picture: “Muster Kiesel”/ Source:

The world is changing constantly and almost in a breathtaking tempo. Not only civil companies have to adjust their strategies and planning processes to the continual changing world. Even for the military it has a vital importance to be at the ravages of time. The NATO Summits in Wales and Warsaw have re-oriented the focus of the NATO Alliance. But what does this mean for the CIMIC Centre of Excellence?

As the CCOE is tasked with providing answers for the future role of CIMIC, we need to be aware that CIMIC within, or at the borders of the Alliance Territory, will be different from CIMIC in distant Deployment Zones. While there will be continued demands to prepare personnel for missions on the South-Eastern and Southern flanks, there is an additional focus on the East and North-East.

In order to stay relevant, we even must give answers without questions – we must give advice without being asked about our stake in these strategic directions. With this in mind, the CCOE is developing a comprehensive reach-out strategy towards our North-Eastern partners, the Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

With this added activity for the CCOE, we also need to think very hard how to fulfill these tasks with the time and resources available. Therefore, it is essential that we develop a new understanding of CCOE’s key priorities and the means required to accomplish these properly.

We have to ask ourselves: Are we doing the right things? And are we doing the right things the right way?

To illustrate the given questions, I would like to compare CCOE’s work with rocks, pebbles and sand:

  • The rocks are standing for the real important topics. They build the house.
  • The pebbles, the smaller stones, are standing for issues of secondary importance.
  • The sand is basically the filler between them all.

Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence
Picture: Glass with stones, pebbles and sand/ Source: CCOE/ Dube

If you were filling the glass the other way around, there would be no space, or resources left, to take care of the truly relevant issues. We need to concentrate on what is important, and not the other way around. And this is what we, the CCOE, is analyzing currently.

With these new challenges, some areas will be tasked with more work, others with less. Here it is important to facilitate a balance to ensure that the CCOE will also be able in the future to respond to challenges.

We have laid the foundation stone with CCOE’s Vision 2020 two years ago, now we are implementing this vision with the upcoming Baltic NATO CIMIC Initiative and further projects to come.

Director CCOE Colonel (GS) Wolfgang Paulik