“To be ready, when the call comes” – CCOE Director’s welcome adress

Director’s speech – Community of Interest Seminar 2016

“To be ready, when the call comes.”

Welcome address:

Dear guests – we are delighted to have you here to participate in the 2016 COI Seminar at the CIMIC Centre of Excellence in The Hague, the city of Peace and Justice. My name is Roel Been and I’m the Director of this Centre. Thank you all for coming! That many of you travelled long distances, serves to point out the value and dedication of this Civil-Military Interaction Community.

To be ready, when the call comes: as already stated in the invitation, soldiers do not make political decisions. Just like civilian relief experts. Yet, when national leaders, parliaments or International Organizations, render decisions involving international engagements, soldiers and aid workers, like you and me, need to be prepared, to be there in time and to act! Are we???

The current conflicts are generating far-reaching effects on civilian populations and there is a rather fluid separation of civilian stakeholders from local actors. The barbarian attacks in Paris, Brussels, Kabul, Holms and other places, illustrates this in the era we live. Civil-Military Cooperation and Interaction can and must play a pivotal role in any sustainable post-conflict scenario.

In order to visualize why we are here today, allow me to take you to Beirut and to show you something.

A stolen freedom… This is the story of Ghina, a 9 years old Syrian girl who has never seen a children’s amusement park, but heard about it from her oldest sister. Before her audition for the Voice Kids in Lebanon she said that “I only see bloody sky, hear bombs, and every day I feel fear because of the war in Syria”.

We have to be ready if we want to help. We have to be ready because of 3 reasons:

  1. our prosperity: Lucky us, we’ve got it all; Children like Ghina are the have non’s.
  2. our obligations as aid workers and as soldiers: to create stability and security.
  3. and thirdly our values like Human Rights, Democracy, Equality or the Rule of Law.



We have to be ready when the call comes!  To give people like little Ghina the chance to be happy again, to live in peace and give back their childhood.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, let’s find some answers during this Seminar. This is why we are here today.

The Seminar – Why and how

The 2016 Community of Interest seminar will focus on “CIMIC and CMI contribution to a post-conflict strategy”. We will work with examples and experiences dealing with Syria and the affected surrounding region. This crisis illustrates that a purely military answer remains insufficient and demands for multidisciplinary approaches.

Thus, topics of this seminar will cover military as well as civilian perspectives, presented by key note speakers from NATO, high profile humanitarian relief organizations, UN entities, academia and the senior diplomatic corps.

Subsequent panels will focus on specific aspects, including the developing situation in Syria and Iraq. Panels are followed by discussions and will be providing space for a dedicated Q&A period.

During the seminar the Chatham house rules will be applied: what you say in here, stays in here or cannot be revered to a person. So please, don’t feel afraid of sharing your views and comments with the whole community!

Contrariwise! I would like to encourage you to discuss, to engage the key note speakers and panelists, to speak out loud every thought / every idea which can help to find answers!

CCOE – Vision and reality

Now I would like to spend a few words about the Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence, our vision and our products.

The CIMIC Centre of Excellence is your preferred network campus to connect people and to share collective knowledge in the field of Civil-Military Interaction.

With the CCOE’s Vision 2020 we outlined our understanding of how to engage with all stakeholders in CMI

  • to connect with each other early on,
  • to share all new, creative and relevant information, in order
  • to contribute to a common understanding of CIMIC and CMI before, during and after future missions.

At our campus and through courses, research, seminars and online exchange like discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, we aim to meet the ‘others’ before we need each other in missions. The CCOE contributes to preparedness, increases awareness and establish networks. But we are not a deployable Head Quarters.


As soldiers with relevant deployment experience, we understand better than ever that there is no exclusive Military answer on current and future challenges and that we need each other to gain unity of purpose.

My staff and I travel a lot to engage with key players in Civil Military Interaction around the world. Meeting people I´m frequently asked the question: What is that CIMIC exactly? Well dear friends- this is no rocked science, but at the other hand, quite complex to be explained comprehensive.

We found a modern illustrative way to explain this to colleagues, commanders, family, civilians and to your neighbors, – a SimpleShow! And you are the first to see it!

A premier. Let’s meet Leo!

We are not only producing movies to explain what we do and what CIMIC is. We´re working on many diverse projects too. Please allow me to highlight just a few of these.

Although neither new nor unique, contemporary Hybrid Threats have the lasting potential to reshape NATO’s strategic thinking and planning. The blurring of War and Peace requires new conceptions and modi operandi in order to ensure the alliance’s responsiveness. We are convinced that CIMIC as a facilitator of CMI plays a key role to counter effectively a Hybrid Threat in a Comprehensive Approach.

CCOE correspónds to the Wales Summit and responds to current challenges by working on a publication on CIMIC in Hybrid Threat which can be expanded to an overall Centre of Excellence publication. Involving all of the 24 NATO COEs to add their perspective on Hybrid Threats on their field of expertise.

The implications of Hybrid Threat will be reflected in the ongoing doctrinal review as well. Wednesday we’ll deep dive into this item in our Panel 3.

The Training & Education Branch of the CCOE consists of trained and CIMIC experienced instructors from several NATO countries. They are responsible for the execution of all types of CIMIC courses. These courses will prepare students for CIMIC jobs and for their participation in missions. In addition, T&E is participating in exercises, supporting and exchanging knowledge on CIMIC related subjects and, supporting capability building in Ukraine and in Lebanon.

The Lebanese situation is a complex one, considering that, according to UNHCR, more than 1 million registered refugees arrived since 2013 in Lebanon. We’ve just met one of them, the 9 year old Ghina. Ms Abir Ali will inform us in more detail soon.

Currently, we are enhancing our external engagement with international CMI stakeholders. We are partnering with think tanks and academia and are supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces in establishing their own CIMIC capabilities.

Current conflicts are complex of nature – and changing, as underlined by the topic of this seminar. We, as a CMI community, cannot afford not to learn from our experiences, simply because mistakes in our theaters of operations will impact the people we want to help. If we fail to learn, ultimately, we fail to save lives.

Therefore the CCOE offers a platform to share knowledge, as illustrated by this seminar as a great example of exchanging ideas. But, this should not end after this seminar is over! We should share opinions and lessons throughout the year.

Our Lessons Learned Branch offers the Community of Interest to join our Lessons Learned portal on internet. You’ll find more information on the „Lessons Learned Quick Reference Card“ in your welcome package.

On the academic side, together with the Helmut-Schmidt University in Hamburg, we have developed and launched the “Master of CMI” program. It is open for military and civilian actors and it aligns Military training with civilian educational standards and training according to the ‘Bologna Accreditation’.

The Master-CMI is one new – and certainly not the only – solution to provide on an academic level; Education, Training, Skills, Competencies and Knowledge in the whole domain of CIMIC & CMI and from the strategic to the tactical level.

Since the CCOE main training effort is towards the requirements of NATO and the CCOE Sponsoring Nations, the M-CMI provides a good opportunity to widen the horizon into other areas, such as the European Union.

As a matter of course there are plenty of other projects I would love to elaborate on but I think it´s time to focus again on the main theme of the seminar – To be ready when the call comes!

In complex scenarios like those we work in, you must be differentinnovative, creative and engage people.

I would like to show you what recently happened during the rush hour at the central station in Antwerp, Belgium.

More than 250 people participated in that “feelgood” stunt end of February. They wanted to draw attention for the opening of the Musical Grease in Antwerp. And they did! People were engaged, joined the show, something started small and grew bigger and bigger, people interacted! With a great impact on Social Media.

For me this is a great example of being creative, innovative – unique. A great example of Engagement and… having fun doing it.

Are we ready to engage different, with modern approaches and ideas? Starting small and let the things grow like this young people? Let’s do it!

Sum up – Engagement

To sum up:

It is a great pleasure to host this community of Interest seminar. For me as the Director and for the whole CCOE as we all are part of this community. Happy to have you all in!

I am convinced that everybody will benefit from this seminar. Just look around and see all these amazing, interesting and extraordinary people.

Let us be productive and let us also enjoy the time being together. Let us work and have fun. Let us ConnectShare. and Contribute. In order to stay relevant and be an excellent community of interest.

And let’s be practical too!

The war in Syria and Iraq won’t last forever. There will be a moment that we can speak of a post conflict situation. With peace keeping or with peace enforcing troops on the ground. Our troops too, acting together with NGO’s, GO’s and IO’s. Sooner or later.

And our political and military masters or our stakeholders will ask us, how to operate, how to conduct stability and security operations in this new post conflict era in a comprehensive way. Together!

Dear people. Let’s be ready, when the call comes. And let’s help children like Ghina to return to a decent future.

Thank you for your kind attention!