NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO Centres of Excellence – Capabilities, Interoperability, and Education

May 11, 2023


NATO-accredited Centres of Excellence are national or multinational establishments that offer expertise, experience, and education to members of the Alliance. While not formerly part of the NATO Command Structure, Centres of Excellence (COE) have a functional relationship with the Alliance, providing subject matter expertise through the four COE transformational pillars: concept development and experimentation; doctrine development and standardization; education, training, exercise and evaluation; and analysis and lessons learned.

Currently, there are 29 NATO-accredited COEs, covering a wide variety of subject matter expertise, including Civil-Military Cooperation, Cyber Defence, Energy Security, Maritime Security, and Military Medicine and many others. “NATO-accredited Centres of Excellence provide an effective way of tapping into the expertise and innovative ideas to be found within our member states.  Individually, they each bring a specific expertise to the wider set of NATO capabilities, and together make all of us stronger in the process,” recently shared Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne.

Originally brought forth as a concept in 2003, Centres of Excellence have several unique appeals to NATO. COEs operate at no cost to NATO while conforming to NATO procedures, doctrines, and standards. COEs do not duplicate existing assets within the Alliance, maintain functional relationships with NATO’s Strategic Commands, and are encouraged to build relationships with additional national and multinational partners. The COEs also assist in implementing NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept, through actions that support the Warfare Development Agenda, by incorporating key priorities like Multi-Domain Operations and Digital Transformation within their annual programmes of work.

Allied Command Transformation (ACT), NATO’s designated coordination authority for the COEs, is responsible, with the support of Allied Command Operations, for their establishment, accreditation, preparation and approval, along with the periodic assessments conducted to ensure they remain in line with the core principles. The overall coordination of the COEs and their processes is accomplished through ACT’s COE Programme Development Branch, who monitor and assist NATO requestors with the utilization and support being sought from these vital centres. “COEs are BRILLIANT! These 29 Centres of Excellence enable the Alliance to have a diverse portfolio of capabilities, bringing unique products and services to NATO and its Partners. Improving awareness and utilization of these Centres of Excellence will create stronger bonds and increased opportunities for NATO and its partners,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mathieu Brulais, COE communication coordinator at Allied Command Transformation.

Further details on Centres of Excellence can be found here.