The idea of establishing the NATO EOD Centre of Excellence materialised in 2004 during the Istanbul Summit where the Slovak Republic
assumed the role of Lead Nation for EOD and consequent management area within the CNAD Programme of Work in Defence against Terrorism (CNAD POW DAT).
Centres of Excellence (CoEs) are a key part of NATO’s wider framework and key contributors to the transformation of the Alliance. They provide tangible benefits to NATO by developing and delivering real capacities while being a hub for subject matter expertise in their particular field. Amongst other things, they provide: in-depth studies and research in key areas as well as subject matter expertise to training and exercises; they support the gathering and dissemination of lessons learned, contribute to doctrine development and offer relevant courses to NATO Member States and other Partner countries.
After many national and multi-national talks within NATO, the EOD CoE was finally established in October 2007 and successfully accredited in April 2011 as the 16th unique CoE. The EOD CoE, as most of the NATO CoEs, was established based on MCM-263-03 Concept for Centres of Excellence Principles, with the Slovak Republic as a Framework Nation and with contributions of sponsoring Member States, namely the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
Since its establishment, the EOD CoE has provided products and services consistent with NATO standards, practices and procedures, enhancing interoperability of NATO Member States and collaborating Member States in the field of EOD. In 2016, recognising its high standards of training and education, the Supreme Allied Command Transformation awarded the EOD CoE with a Quality Assurance Unconditional Accreditation Certificate making it the official NATO Education and Training Facility.
The EOD CoE’s mandate is to support and enhance the NATO transformation and operational efforts in the field of EOD. In line with this, all key tasks are performed in support of four CoE mission pillars:
Lessons learned and analysis: To provide a structured framework to capture and pass on practical experiences and knowledge.
Training and Education: To create training products and offer specialised education with the overall aim of broadening the general and particular knowledge of EOD areas of expertise.
Concept and doctrine development and standardisation: To participate in the development and revision of NATO concepts, doctrines and standardisation publications.
Technology, research and development: To provide EOD technological capability development, improvements and define requirements for new EOD technologies.
To enhance interoperability within NATO, the EOD CoE contributes to NATO’s standardisation process by supporting the development of the Allied EOD publications, leading to the creation of the first ever NATO Doctrine published at the start of 2018. It supports selected NATO Standardisation Working Groups (WG) – mainly EOD, MILENG, Force Protection and C-IED WGs, within the EOD WG, it leads the Terminology Team and the Lessons Learned Team. As such, the EOD CoE is leading the development of NATO EOD Terminology.
Training and Education
The historical and current development of armed conflicts results from the dissatisfaction of insurgent groups with political, economic or religious domination. Enemy activities are reflected in hostile techniques, tactics and procedures (TTPs), which determine the risk assessment of explosive devices and threat analysis that NATO and coalition forces must address. To reduce the number of NATO and coalition forces casualties in potential EOD accidents (due to unskilled, non-professional manipulation with Explosive Ordnance (EO)), a number of training activities have been developed by NATO Member States that increase their and partnering units force protection and freedom of manoeuvre once they are operating in low or high threat environments. As a solution in countering EO risks and threats, the NATO EOD CoE contributes to Alliance transformation and its operational efforts through the provision of EOD expertise and development of NATO-wide tactics, techniques and procedures while also remaining up to date in terms of technical development.
Witnessing more and more attacks in every part of the world, homemade explosives are still a growing concern for NATO due to the availability of ignition devices on the market. In order to face this challenge, the EOD CoE organises homemade explosives courses at basic and advanced levels. Based on a request from NATO, the CoE assumed the role of a project manager for NATO CBRN EOD Incident Management Training. Another well-tailored training provided is NATO EOD Staff Officers Training. All trainings are provided for sponsoring Member States, NATO, and its partners in general, education and individual training for EOD staff and at an operators level as the target audiences.
The CoE’s personnel conduct EOD training for multinational missions on the basis of its publications. On the other hand, the analysed shared knowledge on Homemade explosives subjects are tailored to already trained EOD personnel based on best practice.
Driven by new and emerging trends, the EOD CoE, with the Education and Training portfolio, aims to reflect the identified gaps in the NATO Military Engineering (MILENG) discipline. The EOD CoE further elaborates these gaps as the MILENG discipline recognized specialized institution. The high quality of deliverables on offer is not only a merit of the NATO EOD CoE, but also the CoE’s external EOD COI, which helps to orchestrate the EOD CoE level of ‘excellence’. The EOD CoE Education and Training programme is effectively connecting the EOD COI entities with the goal of enhancing NATOs transformation and interoperability through professional training.
Within new challenges, the CoE contributes as an active partner to the full EOD capabilities training spectra through multi-national EOD related exercises, supporting not only the execution of exercises itself, but also in the whole planning process, including workshops such as Bison Counter, Northern Challenge and Ardent Defender.
NATO Defence Planning Process (NDDP)
As EOD is an integral part of NATO capabilities, it also supports the NDDP. The EOD CoE is recognized as the appropriate body through which EOD expertise and knowledge is embedded into the NDPP. The aim of NATO defence planning is to provide a framework within which national and Alliance defence planning activities can be best harmonised to meet agreed targets in the most effective manner possible.. It should facilitate the timely identification, development and delivery of the necessary range of forces that are interoperable and adequately prepared, equipped, trained and supported as well as the associated military and non-military capabilities to undertake NATO’s full spectrum of missions. As a permanent member of Military Engineering Defence Planning Advisory Group (MILENG DPAG), the EOD CoE brings its substantial contribution by providing expertise and experience to the NDPP planning domains in a comprehensive and effective manner.
EOD/IED Equipment Catalogue
The CoE has established the EOD/IED Equipment Catalogue in order to provide more information about EOD/IED equipment, brochures, training manuals and user opinion statistics. The project’s main aim is to facilitate the search for suitable equipment for EOD specialists as well as to support other armament subject matter experts in the area of procurement, when they seek available market solutions.
It is equally important to promote new technologies and advanced EOD equipment along with the operators’ practical experience from deployment in the field. Having this kind of assessments/information in one central location brings the full spectrum benefits to all those actors involved. It also provides an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to promote their products, highlight the latest upgrades and technological progress within the EOD community.
EOD Workshop Series
The EOD Workshop Series is a tool for organising events as a main responsibility of the LLAB. It began in 2012 as an EOD LL Seminar, where EOD operators and staff officers had the opportunity to share their lesson learned. As the EOD CoE is continuously heading towards more valuable and efficiently organised events, the EOD WS became a platform not only for LL sharing but also started to serve as a workshop supporting development of particular projects/studies since 2017. With this approach, the EOD Workshops indirectly connect knowledge obtained from past lessons learned with possible current EOD trends and forms the basis for future EOD capacities.
Exoskeleton in the Battlefield Project
The Wales Summit declaration identified the exploratory role of the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW) in identifying emerging defence technologies that can improve the readiness of NATO forces. While robotic technologies are progressing fast, the operational concepts need to be refined in order to benefit from such technological advances. In this context, maintaining awareness amongst NATO allies on future capacities can make dismounted operations more efficient, much safer and more effective.
The Integration of the Exoskeleton in the Battlefield project was launched in 2017 by the EOD CoE in co-operation with the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) and financed by the DAT POW. This project organises live demonstrations of Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation (EHPA) technologies currently available on the market in order to update the technological baselines that need to be considered in the development of dismounted soldier operational concepts. The results of this project will help NATO and its Member States understand the technological readiness of EHPA capabilities, support the formulation of minimum military requirements (MMRs) in this area and also refine operational concepts.
NATO EOD Demonstrations and Trials Series
Over the last few years, the threat of terrorist attacks directed at the military and civil population has considerably increased. In response, a number of measures have been taken to mitigate these threats. The NATO EOD Demonstration and Trials is biennial event intended for experts from NATO and partner armed forces, defence industry, highlighting the latest EOD/IEDD technology developments through live demonstrations, exhibitions, conferences and seminars, and has now become a popular periodic event.
The main aim of the event is to gather mission experience parallel to the present needs and development of new EOD technology and protective equipment. It is also an excellent opportunity for manufacturers, research and development institutes and NATO bodies to present the latest technological solutions for improving the capacities of EOD operators to the operational and armament community. The CoE organises the series of NATO EOD Demonstrations and Trials for Explosive Ordnance Disposal in a close co-operation with the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Centre of Excellence in Madrid, Spain and Military Engineering Centre of Excellence in Ingolstadt, Germany with the support of the Slovak Ministry of Defence. It is funded through the NATO Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT POW) established under the auspices of the NATO HQ Emerging Security Challenges Division.
The event also provides an ‘open space’ for discussions as part of the conference, seminars, or panels concerning about urgent military requirements for the DAT POW and its relationship to the direction of actual roadmaps. Within NATO EOD Demonstrations and Trials, there are also live demonstrations, which provide a good opportunity to present equipment/device capacities or new methods and TTPs relating to the EOD area of interest.
Organising the event broadens knowledge about current and future aspects of EOD also related technology capability horizons and confirms or identifies gaps. In so doing, discussions and demonstrations of technologies are connecting different organisations and bodies, which further serves to continuously share the future of DAT POW efforts and roadmaps.
Former Warsaw Pact Ammunition Handbooks
The NATO EOD CoE has already published a series of three handbooks of conventional ammunition manufactured in the Former Warsaw Pact (FWP) countries and is involved in preparing a fourth one. These publications are mainly focused on the explosive elements such as bursting charges, fuel charges, detonators, fuzes and warheads.
These handbooks have become quickly popular among the interested communities. The download of digital copies of the publications requires a registration to the EOD CoE website in line with Terms of Reference.
The information and statements expressed in this article are those of the NATO EOD CoE and do not necessarily reflect the
official policy of NATO.
Team of Authors of NATO EOD CoE