Centres of Excellence

Definition of a NATO COE

A COE is a nationally or multi-nationally sponsored entity, which offers recognised expertise and experience to the benefit of the Alliance, especially in support of transformation.” A COE is not part of the NATO Command Structure (NCS), but forms part of the wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements (NCA)


  • No cost to NATO.
  • Conform to NATO procedures, doctrines and standards.
  • No duplication with existing assets.
  • Relationships with Strategic Commands through Memorandum of Understanding agreements.
  • Relationships with partners are supported and encouraged.


The makeup and characteristics of the COEs are unique to each one. Key points of interest:

  • 1 – 21 Sponsoring Nations (SN).
  • 26 of 29 NATO nations participate in COEs.
  • Manning from 16 to 89 posts.
  • Operating costs per position 6 to 25K Euro.
  • Total manning is approximately 1126 billets/ 942 filled for 24 accredited COEs.
  • Sponsoring Nations are encouraged not to populate a COE at the expenses of NATO billets in the NATO Command and Force Structure.

There are many reasons why a nation or nations, a Framework Nation (FN) decide to offer a Centre of Excellence to NATO. One of the most common reasons is to contribute to NATO whilst at the same time directly benefiting one or more Nations. The number of NATO COEs is consistently growing. Through the MC Concept and the NATO accreditation criteria, COEs have proven to be a successful and enduring model for strong multinational solutions. As a result, the NATO Command and Force Structure is supported by robust network of COEs, which are nationally or multinationally managed and funded and open for participation by NATO and Partner nations.

Command and Control (C2COE)

Director’s Message:

“While focusing on non-technical areas in the domain of Command and Control, NATO C2COE is catalyzing C2 for NATO, nations and international institutions and organizations to develop and maintain our knowledge in the C2 domain, we participate in workshops, conferences and exercises. We regard ourselves as Think Tank when it comes to NATO related Command and Control.”

Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Mission:  The NATO C2COE will support NATO, nations and international institutions/organisations with subject matter expertise on Command and Control. The main level of interest is C2 at the operational level.

 Analysis and Simulation of Air Operations (CASPOA)

Director’s Message:

“While maintaining a high level of excellence in our products and activities, we are proud to be flexible, agile and responsive to Alliance, Nation and Partner requests for support in the Air Operations domain.”

Location: Lyon, France
Mission: The NATO Air Operations Center of Excellence prepares individuals for present and future NATO air operations in combined and joint environments. The Air Operations COE also functions as the NATO Department Head for Air Command & Control Systems Education & Training.

Cooperative Cyber Defence (CCD)

Director’s Message:

“At the 2016 Summit in Warsaw, NATO heads of state and government recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which NATO must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea. This decision reflects a world increasingly reliant on activities and services in cyber space. As the speed of technological change is accelerating and nations are prioritizing cyber defence, collaboration and cooperation between Allies is essential. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is a fundamental resource for the Alliance in providing a 360-degree look at cyber defence with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations and law.”

Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Mission: NATO CCD COE’s mission is to support its Sponsoring Nations, Contributing Participants and NATO in the fields of cyber defence research, training and exercises. The Centre provides its member nations and NATO with cyber defence expertise in the fields of technology, strategy, operations and law.

Counter-Improvised Devices (C-IED)

Director’s Message:

“Other than providing CIED support to NATO and SN on a daily basis, the main focus of the CIED COE in 2017 is to continue with the institutionalization of CIED within International community.”

Location: Madrid, Spain
Mission:  The C-IED COE mission is to provide subject matter expertise in order to support the Alliance, its Partners, and the International Community in the fight against IEDs and to co-operate to increase the security of Allied Nations and all of the troops deployed in theatres of operations by reducing or eliminating the threats from improvised explosive devices used by terrorists or insurgents.

Civil-Military Cooperation (CCOE)

Director’s Message:

“CIMIC in 360 degrees is a cross-cutting, joint function and must be an integral part in every kind of operation. CIMIC includes all our civilian stakeholders, as well as the general public and media, both at home, as well as in deployments. In regions where there are either only soldiers, or penguins, we will not need CIMIC. Everywhere else in the world we need CIMIC to also win the peace.”

Location: The Hague, The Netherlands
Mission: To assist NATO, Sponsoring Nations (SN) and other military and civilian institutions/organizations in their operational and transformation efforts in the field of Civil-Military Interaction (CMI)/CIMIC.

Combined Joint Operations from the Sea (CJOS)

Director’s Message:

“I am extremely impressed by the products CJOS COE provides to our sponsoring nations, NATO entities, and other valued customers. Our ability to cultivate the integration of intellectual energy has allowed us to successfully spark innovation in joint maritime expeditionary operations, interoperability, naval doctrine and maritime security. I am very proud of the CJOS COE team and our accomplishments in 2016. I look forward to our continued success in 2017, advancing our efforts on transformation through sharing of best practices, strengthening existing partnerships and expanding our relationships. Furthermore, I expect CJOS COE to continue to play a key leadership role in developing solution-oriented ideas that will further improve global maritime security.”

Location: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Mission: To provide a focus for the sponsoring nations and NATO to continuously improve the capability to conduct combined and joint operations from the sea. Our aim is to ensure that current and emerging maritime global security challenges can be successfully addressed across the full spectrum of maritime operations.

Crisis Management and Disaster Response (CMDR)

Director’s Message:

“On 31 March 2016 the Crisis Management and Disaster Response Centre of Excellence (CMDR COE) celebrated its first anniversary as a full-fledged member of NATO’s wider framework of Centres of Excellence. The past year saw the Centre further cement its position as a hub of expertise in one of the Alliance’s core tasks – Crisis Management. As a NATO Military Body, our main objective and principle raison d’étre is to support and contribute to the enhancement of NATO’s crisis management and disaster response capabilities, and as a corollary – to the improvement of the Alliance’s interoperability through, inter alia, education and training, research and analyses, concept and doctrine development, experimentation, and lessons learned. The CMDR COE team spares no effort in firmly establishing the Centre as a platform for information exchange and as a focal point in the crisis management and disaster response (CMDR) domain. The CMDR COE aims at better, smarter, more inclusive and comprehensive crisis management and disaster response. We believe that information exchange and sharing of best practices and lessons-learned are essential elements of the decision-making process improving overall operational effectiveness. We strive to provide the foundations for such a collaborative collective approach to CMDR.”

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Mission: In a global context of dynamic and highly volatile security environment, the Alliance is faced by pressing new challenges, increasing in both number and complexity, and multiplying threats which, respectively, require innovative comprehensive responses based on strong leadership and commitment to lasting peace and security. Taking fully into account and aligning to the imperatives of the current security reality, the Centre’s objective is to act as a catalyst for the improvement of NATO’s, NATO Nations’ and Partners’ capabilities in CMDR operations placing utmost importance on the principles of the Comprehensive approach and on enhancing collaborative partnerships.

Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW)

Director’s Message:

“As a global commons, the sea remains of high significance to the international community as well as to individual states. It should be considered quite an acceptable observation to state that everyone is, directly or indirectly, affected by maritime issues; whether it be by trade, exploration, nutrition, or even simple proximity. Thus, the protection of the maritime environment is of essential importance for mankind. Especially a continuous and unhampered flow of goods is the basis of all economy and is vital for the wealth and prosperity of humanity. Any sea traffic inevitably requires sailing through Confined and Shallow Waters (CSW) at least twice, as a ship leaves and enters a port, but most of the time even more frequently as it usually transits through marginal seas, narrow straits, choke points, etc. Therefore, any obstruction, and especially a disruption of the safe passage through CSW, creates a huge impact on our livelihood. Following this persuasive logic, the need for a Centre of Excellence (COE) dealing with the specific challenges for operations in CSW becomes very clear.”

Location: Kiel, Germany
Mission: The COE CSW mission is to provide joint and combined subject matter expertise in the range of operations in confined and shallow waters in order to support the Alliance, the COE CSW Participants and other Customers thus contributing to NATO transformation and enhancing the overall interoperability amongst the allies and partners.

Cold Weather Operations (CWO COE)

Director’s Message:

“Experiences from units conducting training and operations worldwide indicates that if you can fight and survive in the extremes of an sub-arctic or arctic environment you will be very well prepared to fight in all other climatic conditions.”

Location: Elverum, Norway
Mission: The COE-CWO mission is to support SACT in his efforts of transforming NATO in the field of cold weather operations. COE-CWO will serve as the main provider and coordinator of expertise in the area of Cold Weather Operations in NATO. COE-CWO will provide NATO- and Partner nations the necessary competence in order to operate under Arctic, sub-Arctic and Cold Weather conditions.

Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT)

Director’s Message:

“This past July marked the beginning of my second year as the Director of COE-DAT. I want each of you to know that I continue to be honoured and humbled to serve in this position, (CT) transformation efforts. The work we do on behalf of NATO is critical, thus, on behalf of our team I kindly invite you to communicate regularly with and ideally visit COEDAT. Through this type of engagement, we can have a clearer understanding of NATO and sponsoring nations’ goals, objectives, and challenges so we can better align our efforts to address CT threats and challenges. Finally, when possible, I would ask that you advocate for other NATO nations and partners to not only participate but actually join the COE-DAT staff as a sponsoring nation, since terrorism is an acute and global threat impacting NATO and partners alike.”

Location: Ankara, Turkey
Mission:  COE-DAT’s mission is to provide key decision-makers with realistic solutions to terrorism and CT challenges, in order to transform NATO and Nations of interest to meet potential and future security challenges. This transformation is focused on NATOs three declared core tasks of collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. COE-DAT accomplishes this mission through our Programme Of Work (POW) which focuses on terrorism and CT centric events, usually at the strategic and operational level. Our core activities are education and training, doctrine and concept development, and contributions to the analysis and lessons learned process.

Energy Security (ENSEC)

Director’s Message:

“Being the recognized hub of knowledge and expertise the professional team of NATO ENSEC COE is dedicated to support the NATO bodies, Allies and Partner Nations in their efforts enhancing energy security, especially providing the knowledge and expertise on the NATO defined areas; Raising awareness on energy developments with security implications, Contributing to energy efficiency in military domain, Supporting the critical energy infrastructure protection.”

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Mission: The mission of the ENSEC COE is to assist Strategic Commands, other NATO bodies, nations, partners, and other civil and military bodies by supporting NATO’s capability development process, mission effectiveness, and interoperability in the near, mid and long terms by providing comprehensive and timely subject matter expertise on all aspects of energy security.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)

Director’s Message:

“The EOD COE, since its establishment as a NATO COE is providing products and services consistent with NATO standards, practices and procedures enhancing interoperability of NATO members and partnering nations in fields of EOD. The expertise accumulated within the Centre is fostering development of future EOD capabilities in support of the NATO level of ambitions.”

Location: Trenčín, Slovakia
Mission: To support and enhance the NATO transformation and operational efforts in the field of EOD. The COE is designed to perform tasks in support of:

  • Lessons Learned and Analysis
  • Training & Education
  • Concept and Doctrine Development and Experimentation
  • Standardization
  • Technology Development

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

Director’s Message:

“The security environment in the world today is becoming more demanding and unpredictable, which requires NATO to adapt its capabilities to face the wide range of challenges and threats coming from the Eastern and Southern flanks, generated equally by state and non-state actors. The HCOE acknowledged the need to respond quickly to hybrid strategies and that this requires a renewed focus upon Collective Defence and Cooperative Security, whilst sustaining Crisis Management capabilities, by aligning its activities toward the Six Focus Areas identified by SACT, in order to support NATO’s long-term adaptation. HCOE is fully committed to this effort and aims at improving the Alliance’s situational awareness and capacity for strategic anticipation, as well as the level of responsiveness to the actions of our potential adversaries. As such, HCOE will continue to provide direct support to the specialized capabilities of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force and the NATO Response Force, while enhancing its contribution to the activities of the newly established Multinational Division South-East and the NATO Force Integration Units. However, this new focus will not affect in any way the support provided by HCOE to current NATO Operations. I am confident that the HCOE will contribute to NATO’s fulfillment of its core tasks, and will consolidate its status as the principal provider of HUMINT expertise within the Alliance.”

Location: Oradea, Romania
Mission: The HUMINT Centre of Excellence provides the highest quality services and products in response to the requirements and needs of the NATO Command Structure, the NATO Forces Structure, the NATO Nations and, when feasible, Partner Nations.

Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC)

Director’s Message:

“Air Power has been of utmost importance to the NATO Alliance since its inception. The Alliance’s ability to rapidly project power, deter outside aggression, and ensure collective security is underpinned by the strength, flexibility and high quality of its air forces and naval and army air services. These air power characteristics are reliant upon advanced equipment, superior training, high levels of interoperability, and seasoned experience; all enabled by strong leadership and exercised through a well-developed Air Command and Control system. The Joint Air Power Competence Centre, established as the first NATO-accredited Centre of Excellence in 2005, provides subject matter expertise across a broad range of Joint Air and Space Power mission areas and leads NATO in the development of Concepts and Doctrine, Capability Development, Education and Training, Exercise Development and Execution, and Lessons Learned in accordance with NATO MC(M) 236. Within this framework, the JAPCC contributes to the transformation of Combined Joint Air and Space Power. We are NATO’s Air Warfare Center.”

Location: Kalkar, Germany
Mission: The mission of the Centre, as a team of multinational experts, is to provide key decision-makers with effective solutions to Air and Space Power challenges, in order to safeguard NATO’s and the Nations’interests.

Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence (JCBRN Defence)

Director’s Message:

“Ten years transformation support, three years operations support, one year in the role as NATO Department Head for WMD and CBRN Defence Education and Training, grown up to twelve Sponsoring Nations and one Contributing Partner – the Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence is working hard to continue this story of success in 2017.”

Location: Vyškov, Czech Republic
Mission: The NATO JCBRN Defence COE supports NATO‘s readiness and transformation in the field of CBRN defence by assisting NATO, Sponsoring Nations, Contributing Partners, other NATO nations and other Customers in their CBRN defence-related efforts.

Military Engineering (MILENG)

Director’s Message:

“MILENG COE is the only permanently established fulltime body dedicated to NATO Military Engineering. As the major hub and advocate for MILENG in NATO and beyond we are the main promoter for MILENG in its broad sense in support of operations and are dedicated to enhance interoperability through standardization to deliver the required effects to the benefit of NATO and our 17 Sponsoring Nations.”

Location: Ingolstadt, Germany
Mission: MILENG COE provides a significant contribution with joint combined subject matter expertise to the various aspects of military engineering. This include concepts, materiel, doctrine and capability development, education and training and the lessons learned process in order to support NATO’s military transformation, the participants and other partners thus enhancing the Alliance’s military engineering capability and interoperability in order to improve the effectiveness of military engineering support to NATO’s missions.

Military Medicine (MILMED)

Director’s Message:

“NATO MILMED COE Director’s priority in the next 3 years is given to the integration of all MILMED COE members into the most successful military medical team in NATO. All possible efforts to be made to enhance the relationship with the sponsoring MILMED COE nations and possible future member nations. It is also important to initiate and follow the support to NATO partner nations especially located in the eastern and southern flanks of NATO, so that MILMED COE will become the open medical gate of the Alliance.”

Location: Budapest, Hungary
Mission: The mission of the NATO MILMED COE is to support and assist the Strategic Commands, other NATO bodies, nations and other civil and military organizations by supporting the transformation of the Alliance and thereby improving medical support to operations and to provide subject matter expertise in the following areas:

  • Medical training, exercises and evaluation leading to certification
  • Medical Lessons learned
  • Standards development and custodianship
  • Deployment related health surveillance

Military Police (MP)

Director’s Message:

“Dear All, Welcome to the latest edition of the NATO Accredited Centres of Excellence 2017. The NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence (NATO MP COE) is a unique permanent NATO Military Body, which provides sustainable work on all MP aspects across the full spectrum of NATO operations. With the armed forces heavily engaged throughout the world, the need to prepare military police officers for international cooperation is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, the Centre not only offers a variety of MP-related courses and events to fulfil those requirements but also, in cooperation with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), prepares and offers products to provide additional opportunity to enrich knowledge of the worldwide MP Family.”

Location: Bydgoszcz, Poland
Mission:  The NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence enhances capabilities of NATO MP, fosters interoperability, and provides subject matter expertise on MP activities in accordance with the Alliance’s strategic concept.

Modelling and Simulation (M&S)

Director’s Message:

“The NATO M&S COE is an international source of expertise and a catalyst for transformation, connecting NATO, government, academia, industry, and operational/training entities. The M&S COE improves NATO and national M&S professionals through education and training; promotes cooperation and sharing between Nations and organizations; and contributes to the development of new M&S concepts and standards.”

Location: Rome, Italy
Mission: Support NATO and its Nations as well as participating Partner Nations by providing Subject Matter Expertise on all aspects of M&S activities.

Mountain Warfare (MW COE)

Director’s Message:

“Though being one of the youngest members in the NATO COE community, it is a privilege and, at the same time, strong commitment to fulfil the vision and mission set by the agreement of the Nations included in the NATO Mountain Warfare Centre of Excellence. The establishment of the NATO MW COE contributes to the transformation and adaptation of the Alliance’ capabilities which enable its forces to better operate in the mountain environment. The NATO MW COE incorporates a professional core that will ensure and develop the subject matter expertise to meet the requirements of mountain warfare challenges. All the Nations that have joined the NATO MW COE, as well as many other NATO and Partner states have their own highly developed national mountain warfare capabilities. As part of the NATO MW COE concept, it is our task to develop these capabilities ready to be used in NATO operations. The centre will, through implementing the NATO MW COE Programme of Work, strive for meeting and setting standards. We will continue to foster interoperability with the goal to upgrade the knowledge on mountain warfare already existing at the national level and also within NATO,and integrating it into the Alliance and Partnerships. I am strongly convinced that all of this would not be possible without qualified and dedicated staff members, who put great effort in contributing to the promotion and operation of the NATO MW COE, and sharing their subject matter expertise.”

Location: Poljce, Slovenia
Mission: The mission of the NATO MW COE is to assist NATO member countries, partners, other countries and international organisations, in order to enhance mountain warfare capabilities through the following core areas:

  • Development of mountain warfare-specific doctrine and tactics.
  • Concept development and experimentation.
  • Mountain warfare lessons learned process.
  • Education and training.
  • Support to capability development.

Naval Mine Warfare (NMW)

Director’s Message:

“Naval mine warfare is as relevant as ever. Modern sea mines are becoming more and more complex and sophisticated. At the same time underwater explosives in an improvised form are to be considered. Meanwhile the Allies’ sea mining capabilities receive limited attention. The present generation of mine countermeasure ships will be replaced in the coming 10-15 years. Making use of innovative technology, these new capabilities could differ significantly from the current fleets and may encompass autonomy, remote control and revolutionary ways to be deployed. These new capabilities will require new doctrine and tactics, planning and evaluation algorithms and tools and most important, education and training of personnel. The NATO Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence aims to drive and support the development of all that is required to bring NATO’s Naval Mine Warfare capabilities into the next era.”

Location: Oostende, Belgium
Mission: To assist NATO, Nations, Partners and other bodies by supporting the NATO transformation and operational efforts; NATO’s capability development process; mission effectiveness and interoperability by providing comprehensive expertise on Naval Mine Warfare.

Stability Policing (SP COE)

Director’s Message:

“In 2016, which marks the first year of activity, the SP COE was fully committed, through its conceptual and training products, to decrease the widespread lack of knowledge of what Stability Policing actually is and how it can support NATO operations. In 2017, besides consolidating and improving the quality of our products, the biggest effort will be to continue to support ACT in the development and delivery of a comprehensive NATO Stability Policing Concept, overarching and shaping all future progresses in order to make Stability Policing an effective Alliance’s capacity. From our home base in Vicenza, Italy, we will continue to work.”

Location: Vicenza, Italy
Mission: The mission of the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence is to be an internationally recognized focal point and a hub of expertise for a Community of Interest in the field of Stability Policing, which is a set of police related activities intended to reinforce or temporarily replace the indigenous police of an unstable area in order to contribute to the restoration and/or upholding of the public order and security, rule of law, and the protection of human rights (AJP 3-22 – Ratification Draft).

Strategic Communications (StratCom)

Director’s Message:

“Strategic communication is becoming a more and more important area for NATO countries and our role is to assist in this important area by bringing together military, academic, business and government knowledge. This has been a busy year for us. We published our first academic journal “Defence Strategic Communications”, extensive report on ISAF mission “We have met the enemy and he is us” and other publications covering communication challenges. We have organised several trainings on Strategic Communication to NATO and partner nation senior officials and been part of NATO trainings. The next year will be even busier as we continue to analyse Russia and DAESH, look into the future of communications on social media and beyond.”

Location: Riga, Latvia
Mission: Our mission is to contribute to the Alliance’s communication processes in order to ensure that it communicates inan appropriate, timely, accurate and responsive manner on its evolving roles, objectives and missions.

Counter Intelligence (CI COE)

Director’s Message:

“Nations today face increasingly complex and evolving challenges that increase overall global instability and result in rising extremist violence, humanitarian suffering, and reduced personal freedoms. These ever evolving challenges are further shaped by hostile intelligence services. The threats from these organizations include theft of homeland and military defense secrets, valuable scientific and trade secrets, and technology used to inflict mass casualties in NATO and coalition countries. The NATO Counter-Intelligence Center of Excellence (CI COE) is a leader in the unified effort to reduce the actions of these hostile intelligence services and efforts through enhancing counter-intelligence capability and competency of partner nations. NATO CI COE serves as a force-multiplier for the counterintelligence efforts of NATO operations, exercises, policies, concepts and strategies and function as a focal point for resources focused on the most serious and emerging cyber and hybrid threats.”

Location: Krakow, Poland
Mission: The NATO Counter-Intelligence Center of Excellence will enhance counter-intelligence capabilities, foster interoperability and provide comprehensive subject matter expertise to the Alliance, its Nations, and its Partners in order to increase overall global stability and reduce the impact and scope of hostile intelligence efforts.

Source: ACT 2017 COE Catalogue – HQ SACT, Norfolk, Virginia