Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 20th edition of the ICD&E Annual Conference, was held entirely on various web platforms, using a virtual setting that offered the possibility for all participants to continue to explore ways to engage with each other and share their knowledge and experience. This conference demonstrated, once again, the benefits of participating in an international exchange of visions in the specific area of Concept Development and Experimentation (CD&E).

As Rear Admiral John Tammen (Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy of ACT) stated in his welcoming address, “the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the Alliance must stay resilient. NATO will face new strategic shocks and unpredicted unforeseen events with extreme consequences. We must be ready to absorb these shocks and to adapt the new situation as soon as possible in order to cope with future crises”.

In this context, the Concept Development and Experimentation processes can help the Alliance in coping with new transformations and challenges. The conference represented a great opportunity to implement these processes, since it was aimed at harnessing the cognitive power of the 30 nations, also including their Centres of Excellence. Furthermore, it tried to involve partner nations and to take advantage of the wide expertise of other NATO entities, such as the science and technology organizations.

Other important topics discussed amongst the international experts and practitioners concerned legal, moral and ethical issues. During the first session the panellists discussed the regulatory gaps, the related ethical problems and the importance in developing solutions for the lack of ethical standards. Whilst at the same time emphasizing the importance of adopting an interdisciplinary and holistic approach involving as many stakeholders as possible During the second session, the NATO SFA COE had the opportunity to illustrate the project on the “Rule of Law and Good Governance Publication”, that focuses on the importance of creating a clear legal framework during operations and including rule of law principles in the training programs designed for the local forces in crisis zones.

The NATO SFA COE continues to support ACT in understanding the future threats and challenges that will occur across the five operational domains and to assist the Alliance in the development of future NATO military instruments of power, also actively participating in the creation of the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC), the evolution of Strategic Foresight Analysis (SFA), the Framework for Future Alliance Operations regional reports and other dedicated research. 

In addition, through several web platforms, the ICD&E Virtual Conference 2020 gave the CD&E professionals an opportunity to build up Communities of Interest for discussing their projects, improving their interaction with CD&E, promoting their expertise and sharing their best practices.

Therefore, in these fora, the NATO SFA COE contributed to the open discussion, providing ideas and concepts gained through its experience in the Security Force Assistance (SFA) environment.


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