NATO is transforming itself as it approaches its 60th birthday. While change is nothing unusual for the alliance, the scope and nature of its military commitments shift from simple defense to peacekeeping, so the national armies operating under NATO’s banner must be able to function together harmoniously in the field. While harmony is vital in the era of network-centric warfare, achieving it remains a challenge.
The agency responsible for planning and managing the alliance’s interoperability requirements is the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), based in Brussels, Belgium. The NC3A serves the alliance by providing scientific research, supporting acquisition efforts, and spearheading initiatives to develop and approve interoperable software and hardware standards. It also works with Allied Command Transformation (ACT) to formulate long-term capability requirements.
According to NC3A General Manager Dag Wilhelmsen, the agency’s other major role is as the architect for NATO interoperability standards, perhaps the agency’s most active responsibility. In this area, the NC3A works with agencies in NATO nations, national standardization bodies and private industry.
The NC3A operates in a spiral process to develop capabilities from their inception until they are deployed. Because the agency represents no individual nation or industry, it has the ability to serve as an unbiased adviser to NATO nations.