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11 27 2015

Chief Information Officers' Conference embraces Partners Nations' participation

On 18 November 2015, the NCI Agency hosted the fourth annual Chief Information Officers' Conference (CIOC), open for the first time to participation from the seven Non-NATO Nations1.

Chaired by the NCI Agency General Manager, Mr Koen Gijsbers, the event gathered 27 NATO and 5 Partner Nations, with representatives from Allied Command Operations, Allied Command Transformation, International Staff (IS) and other NATO bodies (over 100 participants). Built around three sessions: share, implement and train, the conference was held in the context of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) and the reinforcement of interoperability in NATO Force Structure (NFS) among NATO Nations and with partners as endorsed at the NATO Wales Summit. Held annually, the CIOC represents a unique opportunity to put into perspective the operational, resource, and political aspects of cooperation with NATO and Partner Nations by enabling dialogue, developing stronger partnerships and improving support in the area of C4ISR capability development and service provision. It addresses cooperation on a bilateral, multilateral and regional basis.

This year, the conference focused on the operational, resource, C3 Board, political, and NCI Agency perspectives, offered respectively by Allied Command Operations Deputy Chief of Staff CIS & Cyber Defence, MGEN Walter Huhn; Chairman Investment Committee, Mr Konstantin Nesterov; national Co-Vice-Chairman C3 Board, BGEN Enrico Bologna; Deputy Assistant Secretary General Political Affairs and Security Policy Division, Mr James Appathurai;and NCI Agency Director Demand Management, Dr Velizar Shalamanov.

Nations and Multinational entities provided feedback on the implementation of the NATO 1st Solution (N1S) in the Nations and the NATO Force Structure (NFS) as well as implementation of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP). Further, they provided their perspectives on the improved environment for information sharing, connected exercises and training.


Commander Cyber Defence Expertise Centre, Netherlands Ministry of Defence, LTC Paul 't Hoen, shared the progress on Multinational Cyber Defence Capability Development (MNCD2) and highlighted the opportunity to share information/knowledge on the development of capabilities and the way to acquire them. First German/Netherlands Corps (1 GNC) Assistant Chief of Staff G6, COL Hamelink, presented lessons learned on information sharing in the implementation of N1S for the NATO Force Structure. Following up on the plan introduced at the 2014 CIOC, Mr Pierre Calvez, NATO Distributed Networked Battle Labs (DNBL) Project Manager, provided a status update on the Community of Interest (CoI) cooperation platform, aimed at facilitating information exchange within communities of interest. The CoI cooperation platform is a proposed solution for sharing requirements, solutions, cooperation models and lessons learned between NATO, NATO Nations, Partner Nations and the NFS.

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The practical situation of the ongoing implementation of the N1S Romania from a NATO Force Integrating Unit (NFIU) Nation's perspective was presented by C3 Principal, COL Valentin Becheru. The NCI Agency Director Infrastructure Services Dr Gregory Edwards provided a status update on the Connected Forces Readiness programme. The support from the Agency was commended by Romania, not only in the technical dimension, but also as the provider of a programmatic, flexible and modular approach that meets the requirements of NATO and the NFIU Nations.

The discussions that followed addressed challenges and touched on the Federated Mission Networking, and the ability to have day-1 interoperability and connectivity. The importance of industry was highlighted and the opportunity provided by the N1S initiative in this regard.


During this session, briefings by CPT Kari Aapro (Partnership Interoperability Advocacy Group), BGEN Welton Chase Jr (US European Command (USEUCOM), Director C4/CD), and Mr Jean-Paul Massart (NCI Agency Education and Training Service Line Chief), stressed the importance of information sharing and exercises as an interoperability booster. USEUCOM emphasized the importance of C4 interoperability and cyber defence as a means for risk mitigation. The NCI Agency shared its initiative on NATO CIS education and training to move from a single-site school to a cloud-based federated academy. Furthermore nations were encouraged to make use of these training opportunities and strengthen partnerships with industry.

The Alliance cooperation with partners and reinforcement of their interoperability with NATO is crucial, and the shortfalls in that area can have significant consequences. That is why the delivery of NATO interoperability through the NATO 1st Solution could be pursued and advocated as a way to have affordable, faster and easier implementation. The participants were encouraged to join a single cooperation platform to share not only information but also solutions. Finally, it was reiterated that work has to continue in the time between the conferences, on bilateral and multilateral basis and that the mid-term deliverables should pave the way for preparation of next year's CIOC.

The 2016 CIO Conference is planned to be held in November 2016, and, as in the past years, would coincide with the Fall NCIO Agency Supervisory Board and C3Board Meetings.