Education and Training: A Harmonised Landscape
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The next big challenge for ACT will be, at the end of 2012, to assume the management role of all NATO education & training activities. Embracing a holistic approach will prove to be beneficial to Nations and individuals and matches with the present priorities of the Nations.
Holistic Approach to Education and Training
December 2012 will mark a major milestone when Allied Command Transformation (ACT) officially assumes full responsibility for the management of NATO exercises. For the first time, all of NATO's Education and Training (E&T) needs will be directed by one entity – ACT's Joint Force Trainer (JFT). This will enable ACT to provide a holistic approach to the planning and execution of all individual and collective E&T activities (be it e-Learning, Immersive Learning, Resident Courses, Key Leader Training or Exercises), and will span the spectrum of strategic, operational, and tactical training. While this new arrangement will allow Allied Command Operations (ACO) to be fully focused on operations, ACO, as the end user, will continue to help shape NATO training by defining training requirements and evaluating the trained units and personnel.
In his 4 February speech in Munich, Germany, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, "We need to see how we can get even more value out of them [the education facilities], and perhaps also open up the extensive range of national facilities."
Identifying the Strengths and Gaps in Educational Infrastructure
ACT strives to coordinate the efforts of all NATO Educational Training Facilities (NETFs), Centres of Excellence (COEs) and Partnership Training and Education Centers (PTECs) that are involved in E&T. This coordination may also encompass national facilities where Nations choose to offer education opportunities to other NATO Nations or partners. Such a coordinated network of E&T institutions requires the use of common, accepted standards; JFT has therefore agreed to align NATO E&T with international educational standards. To ensure interoperability between E&T institutions and maximum use of shared resources, NATO has adopted the SCORM industry standard. By adopting academic and industry standards, the organisation can work with NATO and partner nations using the latest technology to support the Education, Training and Exercise requirements.
To identify strengths and gaps in NATO's educational infrastructure will require all available resources. ACT/JFT's role will be to introduce standards and structure to ensure that NATO's E&T requirements are met. This system will only succeed with the full backing and support of the Nations.
WWW – e-NATO: A Rational World
A new e-Learning concept was issued in November 2011. Better use of it and immersive learning opportunities will provide more attractive education and training options that will complement existing resident courses. On-line training will be used where necessary as a prerequisite to ensure collective training and exercise audiences meet required minimum standards of knowledge appropriate to the course or training event.
As Lieutenant General Karlheinz Viereck has said, "e-NATO will be the on-ramp to the NATO E&T highway. The Individual Training and Education Programme (ITEP) will combine job descriptions and E&T opportunities to assist individuals with training requirements customised to their level of knowledge, job description and scope of responsibility." The ITEP will be available online beginning in September 2012, and will initially be populated with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) data, Partner Requirements and will include the embedded Education and Training Opportunities Catalogue (ETOC). By September of 2013 the electronic version, the e-ITEP, will incorporate all new Peacetime Establishment (PE) and Crisis Establishment (CE) manning data.
Exercises to Replace Reality
As current NATO operations wind down, there will be a need to replace real-world experience with increasingly realistic exercises that retain and update the extensive corporate knowledge gained from over a decade of combat operations. Since Nations' defence spending is not likely to increase, we will have to spend smarter to support future exercises. One mission of the JFT team will be to ensure that collective training and exercises remain focused on the requirements of the target audience, in the most cost-effective manner.
Much to Do with Smart Defence and Connected Forces
The ongoing E&T efforts are truly a practical application of Smart Defence, which promotes the alignment of collective and national priorities. Through multinational cooperation, Nations can have access to capabilities they could not afford independently, achieve economies of scale, and improve interoperability. The new E&T landscape will not only contribute to, but will even be an essential requisite for the Secretary General's Connected Forces Initiative.
A holistic approach to ensure that all operational and strategic E&T requirements are met must be the goal. With the economic realities facing the Alliance in this time of austerity, coordination of all resources to fill gaps and prevent duplication of effort is the only way forward. Already taking on that role of coordinating E&T landscape, ACT will be proud to prove itself worthy of the Allied Nations confidence.
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