CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium - The NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) hosted the first Building Special Operations Forces (SOF) Capability Pilot course at the NATO Special Operations School (NSOS) located at Chièvres Air Base, between 14-25 September, with students from NSHQ.
NSHQ began development of this first of a kind course in March 2020. Over the subsequent six months of COVID, NSOS developed the course in a completely virtual environment with support from over 13 Allied Nations, spanning numerous time-zones that included a virtual workshop which validated the course principles. The adaption of the concept and delivery of this course from the traditional to the virtual environment demonstrates NSHQ's agility and resilience.
"Publishing a new handbook [Building SOF Capability Handbook] and hosting the pilot course in this timeframe is a great example of how the SOF community thrives in ever-changing environments," said the course facilitator. "Even now we are stressing the system by mixing remote instructional methods with in-residence methods to educate our students and promote key SOF attributes of adaptability, creativity, and professionalism. The outcome has been excellent and feedback from the students was very encouraging."
NSHQ created this course with the intent of institutionalising best practices and procedures for the Allied SOF capability development. The Building SOF Capability course enhances common SOF language and gives a backbone to the global SOF team while also increasing interoperability of NATO Partners with the Alliance.
During the course, the students walked through a two-week curriculum focused on best practices endorsed by the SOF community. They spent their first week learning the 5-step SOF capability development process as a vehicle to develop, redefine, or fine-tune their organisation. The course culminated in a four and a half day practical exercise developing a roadmap for instituting change, and accounting for essential force development considerations that foster core concepts of NATO SOF.
This course also aims to support and inform NATO Partner SOF development by providing a common playbook, which can be used in support of strengthening Alliance objectives. The next iteration of this course will look to include Allied and Partner SOF representatives and is scheduled to be hosted at NSOS in May 2021.
To support a more comprehensive take on this new process, NSOS is currently developing a future executive level Building SOF Capability seminar. Aimed at senior SOF leaders, the course will support their work on SOF development at the strategic and national levels, and is planned for the end of March 2021.