The NATO Communications and Information Agency's General Manager, Mr Kevin Scheid, met with Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General André Lanata on Thursday, April 15th 2021 to review objectives and accomplishments after more than a year of remote working due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The General Manager also engaged Allied Command Transformation's leadership in a conversation on agility in NATO capability development.
At the meeting, leaders of both entities took stock of their experience in NATO, their lessons learned and where they see opportunities for Allied Command Transformation and NATO Communications and Information Agency to strengthen their collaboration in the future.
Since March 2020, as national governments throughout the world implemented measures to combat the pandemic, NATO has increased teleworking in order to protect its workforce, while maintaining its significant commitments across the globe. The NATO Communications and Information Agency, for example, was asked to urgently source and coordinate the shipping of thousands of items for delivery to more than 15 countries to enable teleworking, including IT and video conferencing equipment. In particular, the Agency shipped IT equipment from Mons, Belgium, to Norfolk, Virginia, in the United States, to support Allied Command Transformation. This equipment was urgently required to enable business continuity of multiple NATO entities.
Gathering the hardware was just one piece of the puzzle. Agency staff from Core Enterprise Services, Network Services and IT Infrastructure, the NATO Cyber Security Centre and the Agency's CIS Support Units then worked together to ensure the equipment was ready for the users on arrival.
Pierre Pradier, Core Enterprise Services Chief at the NATO Communications and Information Agency said: "Mobility for NATO's workforce isn't just about the equipment itself. This effort also includes ensuring NATO staff is connected properly, and their communications are secure."
Ensuring communications across the Alliance does not only entail providing state-of-the-art equipment. Engineering and maintenance of key systems, shifting practices to accommodate a remotely-based workforce, ensuring remote communications are kept as secure as those happening in offices have been paramount in providing employees with the means and the technology to continue their work.
Thanks to the cooperation between Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Communications and Information Agency's Support Unit in Norfolk, Allied Command Transformation was able to maintain its output and its commitments to the Alliance by quickly shifting to remote working while minimizing disruptions and service interruptions.
Another significant milestone was recently achieved when the Agency's Communications and Information Systems Support Unit in Norfolk provided all of the technology necessary to bring the new NATO Joint Force Command online and connect it to NATO, and the rest of the Alliance.
US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel David L. Hancock, Communications and Information Systems Support Unit Norfolk Commander said: "What the team has been able to accomplish, between the technicians and action officers on the ground here in Norfolk, and the staff in Europe giving us the support and flexibility we needed, is [...] a testament to what the NATO Communications and Information Agency can do when we act with unity of purpose. Of course, in many ways we are just getting started, and we look forward to getting Joint Force Command Norfolk ready to demonstrate the capabilities this Alliance expects."
NATO Defence Ministers decided in June 2018 to adapt the Alliance's command structure with a new Atlantic command in Norfolk, and a command for support and logistics in Ulm, Germany. Joint Force Command Norfolk joins NATO's two existing Joint Forces Commands, located in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Naples, Italy.