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NATO ACT examines, addresses global challenges

Chief Solutions Architect Mark Ryland of Amazon explains how Amazon uses cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and big data and how that might be useful to NATO. Photo by Malina Scacchi, Spartan Echo multimedia editor.

Chief Solutions Architect Mark Ryland of Amazon explains how Amazon uses cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and big data and how that might be useful to NATO. Photo by Malina Scacchi, Spartan Echo multimedia editor.

by Richelle Hammiel

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), one of the largest political and military Alliances, met in Norfolk, Virginia Wednesday, Dec. 14, to discuss their global challenges and their methods for bringing solutions that will be approved by all 28 of its Allied nations. This was done through NATO Allied Command Transformation’s annual Chiefs of Transformation Conference (COTC) of 2016 at the Norfolk Marriott hotel in downtown Norfolk.

The COTC, the organization of NATO’s planning leaders, targets defense, innovation, adaptation, and transformation.  NATO seeks to solve each challenge, but is aware that one solution will not suffice.

Under defense, NATO works to save the economy if crisis strikes; provides police force training as well as training for the navy, army, and military; and fights against hybrid threats, cyber security, terrorist groups, and potential adversaries.

However, in order to transform, adapt, and meet such challenges successfully, it has to improve its pace by learning how to keep up with constantly evolving technologies, adaptations of other nations, enhancing situational awareness, and combining these approaches into a fluid process that includes all members.

That calls for the need for new capabilities.  Adaptation cannot prevent transformation for other allies and this a major problem for this organization.

Nations have to develop stability to make decisions collectively, especially when it comes to new developments, and that was the centerpiece of this year’s conference for NATO’s planning leaders.

Technology develops new innovations as well as new capabilities.  NATO’s developing innovations include cloud computing, logistics, big data, advanced analytics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence.

Cloud computing is a resource that allows users to innovate and transform, in partnership with industries, by allowing them to pay for resources only when needed.  Logistics sharpens the focus of placing war fighters in dangerous situations and helps commanders make better, more effective decisions. While big data, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence have been hot trends in business and the tech industries, as well as robotics and autonomous systems, NATO realizes it must become deeply involved in these developments to leverage its position in the world. That requires not only partnerships with other nations, but partnerships with industry and the scientific community as well.

As a part of forming those partnerships, NATO has stated that they are working to expand outreach and improve their social media platforms.  The organization is currently active on Facebook and Twitter and is transitioning toward an Instagram presence.  To keep conference participants active and updated with information, NATO even created their own mobile app for the conference and the hashtag #COTC16 so that participants and interested parties could keep up with the conference through Twitter…even long after the conference was over.

In addition, NATO also aimed to get millennials and academia involved by inviting them to the Chiefs of Transformations Conference in cooperation with Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Regent University. Student leaders and student press, along with faculty representatives, attended the conference where they were provided with a real-life learning opportunity. They even discussed NATO ACT messaging and public communication strategy during a private break-out session with NATO public affairs officials.

This annual conference is an integral part of NATO’s planning process as the gathered leaders hope to plan for immediate needs as well as foresee challenges out to 2030 and figure out how NATO can best position itself to address the needs of combined European and North American interests in a technologically changing and politically challenging world.

Richelle Hammiel is a former editor and current reporter with the Spartan Echo and, Norfolk State University’s student newspaper. While she covered COTC 2015 for the newspaper, she is currently focusing her studies at NSU on public relations, as well as business and strategic communication. She anticipates graduating in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.