NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Navigating NATO’s Digital Frontier: A Closer Look at The Explorer 2023

November 8, 2023

LISBON, PORTUGAL. The Explorer, an annual publication by NATO’s Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre, provides valuable insights and updates on a variety of topics. This year’s edition includes articles with a specific focus on NATO’s Digital Transformation, the role of artificial intelligence, and practical applications of the Lessons Learned process. This comprehensive guide showcases NATO’s commitment to embracing technological advancements responsibly, while maintaining a competitive advantage.

In an exclusive interview, Rear Admiral Nick Wheeler, Royal Navy, Director of the NATO Digital Staff, shares his thoughts on the Alliance’s digital journey and the potential of artificial intelligence to shape NATO’s future. Another featured piece stresses that as the global artificial intelligence market continues to grow rapidly, NATO is actively exploring ways to leverage it as a force multiplier for increased efficiency. The Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre has already experimented with use cases that include artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and Canva AI Text to Image Generator, as well as an artificial intelligence add-on for analytical software (MAXQDA) that aids in source material selection, summarization and analyzation of qualitative research. While integrating artificial intelligence brings numerous benefits, concerns regarding potential risks such as data misinterpretation, flawed observations and biased decision making are also addressed.

A number of articles in The Explorer discuss different aspects and uses of the NATO Lessons Learned Process, which is one of the key activities of the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre. The difficulties associated with cognitive biases in Lessons Learned analysis, both in human thinking and artificial intelligence, are explored while emphasizing the significance of promoting cognitive superiority. The Centre is at the forefront of NATO’s lessons learned initiatives and actively embraces innovation; their activities include exploring artificial intelligence driven systems, enhancing the NATO Lessons Learned Portal and researching semantic representation for lessons learned.

The publication introduces the 2024 NATO Lessons Learned conference which will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in April 2024. Following the adaptation to virtual formats during the pandemic, it will revert to its traditional in-person format next Spring. This conference offers valuable opportunities for learning, networking and sharing experiences.

While NATO’s Lessons Learned Capability has made significant strides, there remains a gap in sharing National lessons learned products. This edition of The Explorer discusses the efforts being made to promote the sharing of National NATO Lessons Learned by addressing challenges such as mindset barriers, language barriers and portal access.

Another thought-provoking feature highlights how the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre supports the Alliance and one of its important partner nations, Ukraine, by identifying lessons from Russia’s war against Ukraine. This is done through activities like creating a Ukraine Hotspot in the NATO Lessons Learned Portal, analyzing relevant content, providing training and enhancing preparedness.

The Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre’s recently published analysis projects are also presented in this edition. The Centre’s analyses are aimed at improving NATO’s processes, addressing challenges, and enhancing its capabilities. For this iteration the focus is on reports relating to operations assessment, virtual collaboration tools, and NATO’s involvement in evacuation operations.

Other pieces in this magazine highlight the latest results of the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre’s regular NATO Lessons Learned Portal Active Content Management which shows the status of items submitted to the NATO Lessons Learned Portal, progress of items relating to key topics (e.g. Ukraine, Multi-Domain Operations, etc.) as well as the latest updates to the NATO Lessons Learned Portal.

The Explorer concludes by looking back on its own 20th anniversary celebrations and commemorating the 20th anniversary of Allied Command Transformation, which serves as NATO’s centre for improving and modernizing military operations, and the command to which the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre reports. The article emphasizes Allied Command Transformation’s significant role in enhancing NATO’s military capabilities over the past two decades, highlighting its dedication to protecting the future security and interests of member nations.

The 2023 edition of The Explorer offers a comprehensive overview of NATO’s efforts in embracing Digital Transformation and integrating advancements in artificial intelligence, showcasing the steadfast commitment to progress and innovation of the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre, which helps create a safer and more secure future for the Alliance.