The Connected Forces Initiative supports and enables the implementation of the overarching principles of the NATO Network Enabled Capability.
Status of the NATO Network Enabled Capability Concept
The NATO Network Enabled Capability (NNEC) focuses on increasing technical and non-technical interoperability to facilitate information sharing and exploitation. During the last year, Allied Command Transformation (ACT) has moved from concept development into actual implementation. The results of NNEC assessments, solutions, and recommendations from actual operations, like the Afghan Mission Network (AMN) in ISAF are significantly influencing NATO Capability Packages, information products and training venues. These changes also affect actual operations; Communication and Information System capabilities; Joining, Membership and Exit Instructions and Standard Operating Procedures doctrine and policies.
Current solutions include technical aspects, but mainly focus on information management, processes, the proper use of information assurance and capabilities to extend mission information domains to include non-traditional partners, as per the comprehensive approach. NNEC is also heavily influencing the development of the Future Mission Network (FMN) concept and the subsequent implementation plan.
The Connected Forces Initiative's support to NNEC implementation
Presently, the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) is the perfect vehicle to implement NNEC.
CFI is defined by the NATO Secretary General as "an initiative to complement Smart Defence. One that mobilises all of NATO's resources so we strengthen our ability to work together in a truly connected way". It does this through expanded education and training; increased exercises, especially with the NATO Response Force; and better use of technology. Currently, the NNEC community is already working on these three areas to implement small operational NNEC achievements.
With the support of CFI, NNEC can be implemented on a much broader scope, faster and more efficiently, causing NNEC operational achievements (including better interoperability at all levels, better information sharing and exploitation and support for the comprehensive approach) to become available to the war-fighters sooner and better suited to their actual needs.
The Way Ahead
CFI would benefit significantly from using NNEC (which enforces technical and non-technical interoperability) as the pivotal objective of its roadmap. Subsequently, the initiative could then use the three priority mechanisms (training, exercises and technology) to achieve (among others) the operational benefits identified through NNEC. CFI would then become an optimal way to achieve immediate operational gains by synchronizing and coordinating efforts throughout the three mechanisms.
NNEC as a concept and CFI as the initiative that operationalizes it would quickly and efficiently achieve NATO's interoperability goals in a coordinated manner, as promulgated by Smart Defence, and as described by the Secretary General, during the last NATO Summit.
A key element of success for NNEC and CFI is collective awareness. A coordinated understanding of both NNEC and the CFI is key to harmonizing the different CFI-related efforts NATO and Nations are presently conducting. This topic is the focus of the 2013 NNEC Conference "coNNECting Forces" in Lisbon, Portugal, 23-25 April, which has just concluded. For the results of the conference, please visit the NNEC Website at: www.act.nato.int/nnec
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