NATO Defence Ministers met today, April 15th 2020, by secure video conference to discuss the Alliance’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

As well as ensuring the safety of Allied troops and personnel, NATO is coordinating military support to Allies in response to the pandemic. NATO Allies are cooperating to airlift critical supplies from across the globe; hundreds of tons of medical equipment have been donated and delivered. Allies are sharing medical expertise as well as spare hospital capacity.

Allied armed forces are also providing essential support to civilian responses in our nations, including with logistics and planning, field hospitals and hospital ships, transport for patients, repatriation of citizens abroad, disinfection of public areas, and at border crossings. The Alliance is helping to get the right support to the right places at the right time.

Allied Command Transformation is doing its part. Its contribution to NATO’s COVID-19 response focuses on Warfare Development and within this, the development of capability and the implications for the future. Allied Command Transformation is drawing upon a vast network of military and civilian professionals from Centres of Excellence, nations, scientists, medical professionals and military experts to position the Alliance during this pandemic. The focus of Command work is to innovate solutions to warfare development, coordinate work with Centres of Excellence and analyse NATO’s posture with recommendations for necessary adjustments.

"Assessing the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, and the resulting adaptation requirements for the Alliance, is a key priority for Allied Command Transformation. During this crisis, we work differently, and we analyse and prioritize where we can make the Alliance more resilient for the future," said General André Lanata, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. "Our ongoing tasks will incorporate the challenges, opportunities and impacts illustrated by the strategic evolutions resulting from this COVID-19 pandemic within this Warfare Development effort, by using our vast network of military and civilian professionals from Centres of Excellence, nations, scientists, medical professionals and military experts, through an intensive open collaboration."

Disinformation around COVID-19 is a big challenge. Ministers discussed what more Allies can do to counter false and harmful narratives with the truth. They also discussed how NATO is maintaining its deterrence and defence, and its missions and operations around the world during the pandemic. Allied Command Transformation, through its Innovation Hub, recently awarded a contract to deliver a Collaborative platform for COVID-19 crisis management. This prototype will provide improved COVID-19-related situational awareness and Command and Control, including accountability of personnel. The prototype is meant to be customized and tailored to meet users’ needs (such as NATO Headquarters, municipalities, first responders, healthcare facilities or a particular community). Allied Command Transformation’s Innovation Hub is also working on the establishment of a resilience assessment dashboard for NATO’s Allied Command Operations, based on big data analytics engine in order to detect, collect and analyze a broad array of data in support of NATO civilian environment resilience assessment. Beyond that, the Command is looking at ways to leverage the same big data analytics engine for other COVID-19 response applications to improve logistics management, pandemic analysis and Information Environment Assessment capabilities.

Allied Command Transformation’s Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre is working on the development of a COVID 19 Lessons effort that informs how the Alliance could respond in the future.  The Centre is producing guidance on how a ‘capture and analysis’ process works and NATO’s Centres of Excellence are ready to support. NATO’s Centres of Excellence, coordinated by Allied Command Transformation, are providing vital support to NATO missions and operations during the pandemic, while also collecting all relevant data for future post pandemic analysis.

NATO's core task remains to preserve the security of almost 1 billion citizens. The Alliance will continue to work hard to ensure that this health crisis does not become a security crisis, and that we are better prepared when the next crisis comes. The challenges posed by COVID-19 know no borders, and the world is stronger and safer when nations work together. Allied forces remain ready and as determined as ever to protect our people and our nations.