The 22nd International Concept Development & Experimentation Conference took place from 25-27 October 2022 in Budapest, hosted by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Hungary.

Nearly 260 conference delegates from 35 nations, including representatives from NATO, NATO Partner Nations, the European Union, and various industry representatives focused on how Concept Development and Experimentation contributes to the Alliance Warfare Development Agenda in the framework of the new NATO Strategic Concept.

Major General Tony Wright, Allied Command Transformation's Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans & Policy, asked attendees help to provide input into the warfare doctrine while reinforcing the Command priorities of conducting multi-domain operations and digital transformation.

In his opening remarks, Colonel Pillmeier, Allied Command Transformation's Concept Development Branch Head, outlined that “The most important people here are the speakers, the workshop leaders, and the attendees who bring with them their backgrounds, ideas, and interests.”

The conference panel discussions and workshops tackled NATO main efforts towards the future describing the new realities that NATO faces, and how those realities shape NATO’s strategic themes, big ideas and in consequence concepts, lessons learned from the conflict in Ukraine and, the concept development and experimentation tools in support of future warfare development. NATO's new Strategic Concept shifted the political centre of gravity of the alliance, orienting NATO’s evolution over the next 20-30 years around a strategic concept and vision; while remaining agile enough to deal with threats as they arise, the Alliance should not lose sight of the vision laid out in its Strategic Concept. The Strategic Concept is supported by NATO’s Military Strategy and Allied Command Transformation's NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.

Concept Development & Experimentation is a combination of methods and tools that drives NATO's transformation by enabling the structured development of creative and innovative ideas into viable solutions. Concept Development & Experimentation tries to capture, inclusively and iteratively, the best ideas by thoroughly exploring potential solutions, either within NATO or collaboratively with nations, through Concept Development combined with testing and validating these through Experimentation supported by Operational Analysis.

Several panels and workshops educated the audience on current NATO Concept Development & Experimentation tools to support verification and validation of NATO concepts as the Alliance charts its evolution for the coming decades. Modelling and simulation, audacious wargaming and transformational exercises have become fundamental; assessing the Information Environment, conceptualizing the cognitive dimension, and contesting the threat of cognitive warfare.

Conference participants also had an opportunity to discuss Multi-Domain Operations: Alliance members are increasingly under threat from adversaries across multiple domains, and NATO must have the capability and capacity to understand its changing environment and develop strategies to sustain operational advantage, going ‘beyond Joint’ and developing new multi-domain structures and processes.

“Across all domains, Multi-Domain Operations will guarantee that all levels of command have a real-time awareness of delivered and available effects, allowing seamless synchronization. Multi-Domain Operations will allow the orchestration of all instruments of power, and the use of non-military effects to support the military objectives, and vice-versa. And on the battlefield, Multi-Domain Operations will enable a warfighter to leverage any available sensor or effector, military or not, across all domains,” stressed Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne.

After reviewing the NATO Multi-Domain Operations concept to grow an informed community, facilitation sessions sought to address key topics on collaboration with non-military entities, achieving the culture change to fully embrace Multi-Domain Operations, key connections between digital transformation and Multi-Domain Operations and analysis of the implementation plan from a customer perspective.

Layered Resilience, Hybrid Warfare and implications from the rise of state and non-state competitors were also addressed at the Conference, demonstrating that the International Concept Development & Experimentation Conference touches upon a variety of subjects and gains insights and inspiration from a variety of fields; military preparation is a long and complex process that requires patience, open-mindedness, resources, and effort.