NATO - Information Management worldwide

Pre-University Paper, 2008

14 Pages


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Organisation Background
2.1 Historical Background
2.2 Mission Areas
2.3 Interoperability

3. NATO Knowledge Management
3.1 Knowledge Centres
3.2 Processing Knowledge

4.1 Working Process
4.2 NDSS
4.3 NLSE

5. The NATO Codification System
5.1 Codification Organisation
5.2 NCS Systematic
5.3 NCS Acceptance

6. Summary

7. Index


Knowledge Management is the planned and controlled, continuously performed operations of collecting, organizing, storing, analyzing and sharing any kind of knowledge. In this concept, the knowledge itself is considered as a part of available resource in several forms and values.

Knowledge Management is management:

- how give the right knowledge
- to the right people
- in the right time Knowledge:
- is explicit (documented information that can facilitate action)
- is tacit (know-how & learning within peoples minds)

The Knowledge Pyramid

Explicit knowledge is formally fixed in documentation, standards and procedures and can be measured and easily disseminated. Tacit knowledge comprises the ability, motivation, experience and awareness of a single person, which is a difficult to measure, to store and transfer; but tacit knowledge has a great value to the organization and is part of intangible assets.

Compared to the economical systems, knowledge management in the military environment, which will be examined later, faces additional challenges;

management processes must be robust even under extreme hostile conditions knowledge content must be kept simple but precious knowledge must be available in real-time knowledge must be available in moving places and over great distances knowledge must be redundant and reliable knowledge processes must follow the operation in pace knowledge has security and confidential character


2.1 Historical Background

After the end of World War II, nations quickly quit dreaming about eternal peace on earth, when the soviet aggression was moving westward and suppressing the liberated east- European countries. Facing the military thread, in 1949 twelve 12 western countries in Europe and northern America founded the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO.

Since suffering from severe war destructions, the nations were focussing on the development of the economy and had limited capacities to build up their own armies. While the equipment of the Wehrmacht and the Axis forces was abandoned quickly - production factories and maintenance facilities were destroyed or dismounted - the United States kept own forces and equipment deployed in Asia and Europe. The U.S. also equipped and trained the allied European national forces. Doing this, the first knowledge transfer was conducted in the early NATO organisation, and first steps of interoperability were implemented.

2.2 Mission Areas

NATO Member Countries

(NATO in the 21st Century - NATO Public Diplomacy Div., 2004)

Today, NATO has 26 member nations on three continents with more than 850 million inhabitants in the northern hemisphere and additional countries are still applying for membership.

As the most powerful military and strategic alliance, NATO takes responsibility worldwide for observer missions peace-keeping missions, peace-enforcement missions and is lead force in UN mandated missions in Africa (Somalia, Djibouti…) and the Near East (Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq…)

In this growing community it is fundamental, that knowledge systems are created which assure the knowledge management processes are operating permanently.

2.3 Interoperability

During the Cold War times, almost 5 million soldiers were serving daily in NATO armies. This evidently points out the need for NATO to enforce standardisation, especially for mass consumption goods such as fuel and ammunition, and to gain interoperability.

Interoperability is defined as the ability of “systems, units or forces to provide services to or accept services from other forces to enable them to operate effectively together” (McIntyre S.G., Gauvin M., Waruszynski B., 2003).

Since then, interoperability became essential for all military exercises and operations, where combined forces (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and National Guard) and joint forces (from different countries) were together on the battle ground. The structures must on one hand consider the special security and confidential character of contained information; on the other hand all involved forces need to have the best possible information available. An important step to enable knowledge transfer between all these people (respectively Units and Commands), to interact successfully in a combined effort is a common language. Due to the historical dominance of the U.S.A. Canada and the United Kingdom in the foundation of NATO, English is the official NATO language. (For the same historical reasons, French is still considered as second official language.)

Unlike other multi-national organisations, language barriers are eliminated above certain competence levels. This is of course essential considering that NATO cooperation is supposed to work in battlefield contentions, under time pressure and enemy fire.

Facing the fact, that a simple “word by word translation” from one language into another still would allow misunderstanding, and NATO has own terminology and definitions, NATO provides language courses in own education bodies.

3. NATO Knowledge Managements

3.1 NATO Knowledge Centres

NATO is geographically stretched over three continents, 26 nations permanently develop new technologies and tactics, their industries are developing new knowledge almost every day.

Nor nation nor armed force can cope with the tremendous amount of information, which is daily produced, and not all information provided or published has a value for them. NATO therefore has two ways to approaches the information overload.

On the other hand, there might be very important and vital information hidden in the bulk, which needs to be found and filtered, analyzed and transferred to the final user of information.

No nation - not even the United States - is able to provide all required manpower, technology and financial resources unilateral.

An excellent example for close cooperation for such an information management system in NATO is the AWACS-System.

These airplanes - easily recognized by their typical huge round radom on their back - are the backbone of the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), controlling the airspace for air policing and airspace control in central Europe. Originally, their were built to prevent surprise air-raids by low-level flying intruders, coming from the Warsaw Pact, but nowadays these airplanes also take over missions for the U.N. to control air and ship traffic in crisis areas, such as the Horn of Africa and Iraq.

The AWACS system including the airport infrastructure is a NATO asset, not nation owned. Luxembourg is acting as Host Nation for the airplanes, while the home-based in Geilenkirchen in Germany, the crew is multinational from all participating NATO countries. This method of joint operation allows information sharing and cost sharing, but also specialization on core competences for selected entities.

To centralize competences and knowledge has also the effect to avoid duplication of work, hence to save manpower, time and again costs.

Even when NATO included some of the world’s strongest economies, resources were limited somewhere. In the 40 years of the Cold War, NATO was in permanent competition to be the more efficient organization, and in the Race of Arms, NATO was always forces to outrun the competitor to have the best available technologies, strategies and tactics as soon as possible. Several specialized agencies with core competences in different areas of knowledge- technical and intellectual - were formed, for example;

- CEPMA (Central Europe Pipeline Management Agency) in Versailles, France NAMSA (NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency) in Capellen, Luxembourg NAPMA (NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Programme Management Agency ) in Brunssum, Netherlands
- NC3A (NATO Consultation, Command & Control Agency) in Brussels, Belgium and The Hague, Netherlands
- NCSA (NATO Communication and Information Systems Services Agency) in SHAPE, Belgium
- NETMA (NATO Eurofighter & Tornado Management Agency) in Unterhaching, Germany

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NATO - Information Management worldwide
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NATO, Information, Management
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Carsten Berg (Author), 2008, NATO - Information Management worldwide, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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