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11 28 2016

Fifth Chief Information Officers' Conference

The NCI Agency hosted its fifth Annual Chief Information Officers' Conference (CIOC). The event was chaired by NCI Agency General Manager Major General (ret) Koen Gijsbers.

The conference, which took place on 16 November 2016, gathered Chief Information Officers from NATO and invited Partner Nations along with representatives from NATO HQ, ACO, ACT, NATO Force Structure (NFS) and other NATO bodies.

This NCI Agency Flagship event is a forum for dialogue and the development of partnerships through bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation. The aim is to improve support to External Customers in the area of C4ISR capabilities development and service provision. The Conference provides an opportunity to discuss the level of support that Nations expect from the Agency in order to meet their ambitions of achieving NATO Force 2020, in particular through the re-use of what we already have (not only NATO-common funded but also National and multinational-funded solutions) through the NATO 1st Solution (N1S) concept in response to the NATO First Policies of many nations and NFS Elements.

The 2016 Conference was built around three sessions: COMMITMENT, CONTINUITY and CHANGE in the context of the Long Term NATO Adaptation as endorsed at the NATO Warsaw Summit.

The scene was set in Session 1 – Commitment – with Mr Jonathan Parish, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, providing a comprehensive review of the major decisions from Warsaw and how they will impact the C4ISR Community. The political decisions were translated into the operational perspective by Lieutenant General Jan Broeks, Director General International Military Staff, who highlighted that Command and Control is a crucial factor of modern military forces and the Alliance needs a comprehensive set of communications and information systems for all levels of command, from the strategic to the tactical level, supporting both the NATO Command Structure and the NFS in a cyber-contested environment. Session 1 concluded with a view from the Resources Community presented by Colonel Konstantin Nesterov who highlighted the tremendous cooperation that enable the Capability Packages for the NATO Force Integration Units to progress so quickly and thus to provide an example of how we can all take proactive and responsive approach to managing the delivery of common-funded capabilities for NATO.

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During Session 2 – Continuity – we were provided with an overview of some real-life operational challenges facing the Nations (both NATO Members and Partners), the NATO Force Structure and our non-'Ministry of Defence Customers' with a clear message that enhancing readiness and interoperability is critical not just within NATO and the NFS, but also with Partners and many other actors in the Euro-Atlantic region. The session was supported by an influential set of speakers included Brigadier General Krzysztof Król, Deputy Commander, Multinational Corps Northeast; Brigadier General Dr Valentin Becheru, Chief of CIS Directorate, Romanian General Staff; Dr George Sharkov, Bulgarian National Cyber Resilience Coordinator; and Rear Admiral Juha Vauhkonen, Finnish Military Representative to NATO and the EU.

Considering the increasing demands from the External Customers as they face the challenges outlined in Sessions 1 and 2, the NCI Agency is taking a number of initiatives to improve the effectiveness and efficiency for the delivery of C3 capabilities and IT services to External Customers without adversely impacting core business from common funded entities (Internal Customers).

In Session 3 – Change – the NCI Agency outlined some of those initiatives, including: the establishment of an interim External Customer Support Office from 1 January 2017; the development of the Electronic Definitive Media Library as a follow-on to the Routine Delivery Software Download site; increased cooperation with Industry and not-for-profit (NFP) organizations such as scientific and Research and Development organizations through the development of N1S and NFP Basic Ordering Agreements; and cooperation through the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership, which is a new initiative to strengthen collaboration between NATO and the private sector on cyber security. The CIOs and the Agency also benefited from feedback from the National Technical Experts (NATEXs), who were represented by the Canadian NATEX, Lieutenant Colonel James Bates.

Once again, the CIOC proved to be a significant event, adding value for the National and invited Partner CIOs, attracting excellent speakers and generating some lively debate, which, it is hoped will contribute towards the ACT Chiefs of Transformation Conference in December 2016 and the Defence Planning Symposium in February 2017, led by the Defence Policy and Planning Division. The Agency will provide a Conference Report by mid-December 2016 including suggested actions to address the discussed proposals.

The 2017 CIO Conference is planned to be held in November 2017, and, as in the past years, will coincide with the Fall NCIO Agency Supervisory Board and C3Board meetings. It is likely to focus on the NATO Forces Readiness and Interoperability Partnership in the context of the expected Summit decision on Long Term Adaptation and Forward Presence. However, we would welcome the thoughts of the CIOs on this proposal.