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CIS3 Partnership for CIS Security Standards Development

Multinational projects and partnerships demonstrate one of NATO's greatest strength: working together to ensure the security of our citizens, and doing so in an effective and efficient manner that would not be possible by acting individually. As security challenges become more complex and technology grows more expensive, some key defence capabilities are required in NATO member and partner nations. Nations can more efficiently obtain these benefits by working together, in alignment with the NATO-endorsed Connected Forces and Smart Defence initiatives.

CIS3 C&I Partnership

The Communication and Information Systems Security Standards (CIS3) Communications and Information (C&I) Partnership (CIS3 Partnership) is a Smart Defence Initiative that focuses on the development and maintenance of security standards for interoperability in the area of Consultation, Command and Control (C3), which is an important part of the NATO Alliance. Common standards ensure that Nations are able to work together effectively and efficiently in missions while using their own systems, which may be specialized for national purposes while maintaining the ability to interoperate with NATO and other parties.

The CIS3 Partnership brings together nations who want to maintain and influence the further development of selected CIS security standards for use in Nations and NATO, achieving interoperability across the Alliance, as well as internally in the Nations between devices from different manufacturers. It helps implement the NATO Strategic Concept and the NATO Wales Summit decisions through a Tier-1 Smart Defence Project run by the NCI Agency.

The multinational project started on 24 October 2016 with participation of twelve nations: Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey, The United Kingdom and The United States of America. Partner Nation Finland joined the partnership on 20 Mar 2020.

Benefits to Participating Nations

The benefits to participating nations are as follows:

  • Participating nations have control on the development of CIS Security Standards (CIS3) that are critical for interoperability;

  • Development costs are shared by participating nations;

  • CIS security standards are developed under a common approach for standards development;

  • National industry is involved in the development and testing of key interoperability standards for secure communications at different levels:

    • via participation in technical discussions at Working Group level,

    • through participation in regular testing sessions promoted by the Partnership and

    • by having access to testing tools that are developed by the Partnership;

  • Participation in the Partnership facilitates the use of federated approaches;

  • Nations can share ideas with NATO, other nations and national industries by creating a community of subject matter experts;

  • Funding Nations can influence the way NATO is going by leading on key interoperability standards development.

Governance Framework for the CIS3 Partnership

The CIS3 Partnership is composed of a number of governing and advisory bodies and entities. At programmatic level, the work is segregated in work packages.

The Partnership is legally bound by the NCI Agency Supervisory Board approved General Rules for C&I Partnerships (common to all C&I Partnerships) and by the CIS3 Partnership Arrangement which is signed by the participating nations.

CIS3 Partnership Committee

The Partnership Committee is comprised by the participating nations and defines the Programme of Work (PoW) for the Partnership. It directs, monitors and controls its implementation with the support of the CIS3 Secretariat and the subordinate Work Package Boards.

Membership of the CIS3 Partnership is regulated by the General Rules for C&I Partnerships. Participants, i.e. signatories of the CIS3 Partnership Arrangement, have at least one and up to two Representatives in the CIS3 Partnership Committee, one primary and preferably one backup. The Representatives have authority to decide on all matters under the remit of the CIS3 Partnership. The Participant Representatives are the only ones that take part in the CIS3 Partnership Committee decision making process.

CIS3 Secretariat

The CIS3 Secretariat is provided by the NCI Agency and supports the CIS3 Partnership Committee and the Work Package Boards, delivering programmatic, project management and technical support.

Work Package Boards

Work Package (WP) Boards execute the PoW approved by the CIS3 Partnership Committee and define the detailed requirements and execution of the respective WPs, and direct, monitor and control the implementation of the PoW. Two WPs exist to date: the SCIP Work Package Board (fort the development of the Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol (SCIP) standard) and the NINE Work Package Board (for the development of the Network and Information Infrastructure Internet Protocol Network Encryption (NINE) standard).

Working Groups

Working Groups (WGs) support and facilitate the WP implementation and interoperability testing. They are technical information exchange forums attended by national and industrial representatives and make no decisions. The WG are regulated and report to the parent WP Board.


Observers provide significant value and contributions to the Partnership, at Partnership Committee and Work Package Board levels. Observers do not take part in decision-making processes.

NATO Headquarters C3 Staff (NHQC3S), Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation, as well as Slovenia, were granted with observer status. The NHQC3S is actively observing and providing inputs focused on the harmonization of work between the CIS3 Partnership and the C3 Board Substructure.

SCIP & NINE Work Packages

Currently, two work packages have been established and both are participated by all 13 partnership nations – SCIP and NINE. SCIP is an application-layer CIS Security Standard for secure voice communications and is ideally suited for end-to-end secure communications over heterogeneous non-secure networks. NINE is the future IP security standard to be used by NATO, nations and in coalition scenarios including Federated Mission Networking (FMN).

Admission and Contact

NATO Nations and Partner Nations may participate to CIS3 Partnership either as Participants or Observers. For more detailed information on joining the Partnership, Nations are invited to send their electronic mail to the NCI Agency, [email protected]