From 17 to 19 October 2022, approximately 200 analysts, scientists, military personnel, and other professionals from 29 NATO member and partner nations gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to conduct the 16th annual NATO Operations Research and Analysis Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “New Ideas, Old Realities,” which Dr. Bryan Wells, NATO Chief Scientist said “exactly sums up the situation” facing the alliance. Using the theme as its guide, the conference featured a mix of presentations training sessions, and a wargame demonstration. The presentations focused on new analytical methods and best practices in analysis for tackling relevant challenges facing NATO.
The conference co-organizers, Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and the NATO Science and Technology Organization, were grateful to the Danish military for hosting this year’s event at the historic Fredricksberg Palace, home of the Royal Danish Military Academy in Copenhagen. Rear Admiral Henrik Ryberg, Chief of the Danish Defence College welcomed the participants to the conference, the first time it has been held in-person since 2019.
When addressing the audience, Dr. Bryan Wells provided more details on the wider context of NATO’s current priorities. “They match very well the priorities of the NATO Operations Research and Analysis community, and the Operations Research and Analysis community is in turn strongly placed to contribute to NATO’s high-level thinking”, according to Dr. Wells.
In her opening keynote, Dr. Susanne Wirwille of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory covered both an ongoing and future challenge when discussing the need for the Alliance to develop a comprehensive space deterrence framework, one that imposes costs against adversary aggression and ensures NATO members’ and partners’ continued access to and use of space. Reflecting on a method that has guided the Alliance through past challenges, Dr. Wirwille noted, “This is an alliance of nations; when we speak and act in concert, we can deter aggression.”
The programme, built around multiple streams with several workshops, concluded with a keynote by Dr. David Alberts, Cyber Analytics Lead Support at Institute for Defense Analyses, who delved into another area ripe for operations research: cyber threats. He presented on cyber threats analysis challenges and encouraged the attendees, noting “We’ve become vulnerable to any loss of cyber-enabled capabilities” and “The operations research community would be the perfect place to talk about, focus on, and conduct cyber -related analysis.”
Following the final keynote Conference Co-Chair Ms. Sue Collins of Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation presented the award for the best paper briefed at the conference. Mr. Mark Rempel and Mr. Nicholi Shiell won the award for their paper, “Using Reinforcement Learning to Provide Decision Support in Multi-Domain Mass-Evacuation Operations.”
With the 2022 conference now concluded, the hosts and attendees are looking forward to next year’s event. It will be held at the Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland, near Baltimore, from 30 October 2023 to 1 November 2023. Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and the NATO Science and Technology Organization will distribute information about the conference, including a Call for Papers in spring 2023.