Senior leadership from the Rand Corporation visited Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Headquarters to meet with senior leadership earlier this month in Norfolk, Virginia. The visit provided an opportunity for ACT leadership and experts to strengthen their network of innovative partners and share know-how and perceptions regarding a rapidly changing security environment and future challenges.

Rand Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer, more secure, healthier, and more prosperous. ACT is NATO’s Warfare Development Command and a leading agent of Alliance innovation. Since 2003, ACT has used its unique location in the United States to promote innovative initiatives with external stakeholders.

During the visit discussions covered a broad range of topics including the application of innovation , Agility to Warfare Development efforts to deliver better and faster operational capabilities to the Alliance and its warfighters. Rand also shared valuable lessons learned and future-focused perspectives on Multi-Domain Operations, Digital Transformation and Cognitive Warfare, three top priorities for maintaining NATO’s continued strategic advantage in future conflicts.

“Cognitive Warfare is about degrading the adversary’s cognitive capability,” wrote Rand Waltzman, Adjunct Senior Information Scientist, following the meeting. “A key element of maintaining cognitive superiority in a Cognitive Warfare context is an effective cognitive defense.”

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) General Philippe Lavigne invited Rand to ACT to develop crosscutting collaboration between NATO, industry, academia, and think tanks. In order to maintain an edge, Allies must strengthen the link between the public sector, the private sector and civil society including free and independent media, the holy triad of our free open society.

ACT’s unique location in the United States has benefitted the Alliance and its member nations for nearly 20 years by offering collaboration with U.S.-based organizations including Rand. ACT is the only NATO Strategic Command in North America, allowing teams from various Nations to bring international perspectives and expertise to U.S. forces and bring U.S. military developments to 30 Allied nations. This exchange of ideas and know-how is a win-win arrangement that has paid dividends for every member of the Alliance. Collaboration between ACT and U.S. civil society has helped shape ACT’s 20-year concept for Warfare Development and foster innovative communities.

With interoperability challenged by the digital age, NATO has no time to waste. As stated in the NATO 2022 Strategic Concept, the Alliance must continue to accelerate digital transformation and improve interoperability in order to win today and in decades to come.