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Feb 18 2022

NATO Special Operations Headquarters workshop held in the Czech Republic

MONS, Belgium - Senior leaders from Allied and Partner nations, including Special Operations Forces (SOF) commanders, gathered in the Czech Republic to participate in a NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) workshop from Feb. 16 to 17, 2022.

The workshop, which focused on implementing Comprehensive Defence aspects within their national defence strategies, is the first of this type following the development of the NSHQ Comprehensive Defence Handbook and Course at the NATO Special Operations School.

Special Operations Forces are unique in their ability to serve as a catalyst in facilitating whole-of-society integration

The intent is to identify best practices and opportunities to enhance national programmes and policies for Allies and Partners to educate, inform, and enable all members of societies to defend themselves and their nations against any external threats, whether natural, accidental, or malicious.

Colonel Ladislav Rebilas, Director of the Special Forces Directorate of the Ministry of Defence provided remarks to the participants in the workshop, stressing the importance of creating a structure that will provide each nation with the ability to develop a government-led, whole-of-society approach to resilience and, in conflict, resistance networks to re-establish independence and autonomy within its sovereign territory.

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Colonel Dr. Kevin Stringer presented a historical reference to comprehensive defence during WWII to the workshop.-Photo by NSHQ Public Affairs Office
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Colonel Taner Karabulut, NSHQ Partnership Director presents a gift of appreciation to Colonel Ladislav Rebilas, Director of the Special Forces Directorate of the Ministry of Defence for hosting the workshop.- Photo by NSHQ Public Affairs Office
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Mr. Gabriele Pierini outlines the fictitious scenario for the workshop before the attendees go to small groups to discuss  importance of creating a structure that will provide each nation with the ability to develop a government-led, whole-of-society approach to resilience and, in conflict, resistance networks to re-establish independence and autonomy within its sovereign territory. - Photo by NSHQ Public Affairs Office

"The benefit of this workshop is not only our education, but also the opportunity to realise that building the state's resilience to a wide range of threats requires long-term and comprehensive preparation from government level through public and private institutions to citizens," said Colonel Rebilas.

Colonel Taner Karabulut, NSHQ Partnership Director, highlighted the critical roles Special Operations Forces can perform in all phases of Comprehensive Defence and thanked the Czech Republic Ministry of Defence for hosting this important event under trying circumstances.

"Special Operations Forces are unique in their ability to serve as a catalyst in facilitating whole-of-society integration. From a strategic perspective, SOF is neither the lead nor has the most prominent role in Comprehensive Defence. Nevertheless, SOF has significant responsibilities, which require us to understand how the various elements of the population interact with each other and SOF. Opportunities like this workshop help each participant by discussing best practices, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, as well as strategic, policy-oriented issues that will assist each Ally and Partner in their national defence strategies," said Colonel Karabulut. "I would also like to thank the Czech Republic Ministry of Defence for hosting this important workshop at a critical time for our Alliance."

A nation's ability to successfully deter or defend against threats is contingent upon its willingness and ability to integrate all of its elements of national power, including the power of individual citizens. This workshop presents methods for applying concepts at all levels-tactical through strategic. It also underlines SOF's unique contributions, especially its role as a catalyst, often helpful in facilitating whole-of-society integration.

Additionally, this workshop serves the broader initiative to enhance interoperability and resilience across NATO as the Alliance faces a more unpredictable world.

"The seminar has been planned for a long time and its organisation in Prague was symbolic for us. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid. The seminar was attended by about fifty representatives of the special forces of NATO member and partner countries," added Colonel Rebilas. As part of the accompanying programme, the workshop attendees visited the Crypt in the church of St. Cyril and Methodius.

All COVID-19 measures and protocols were followed in the execution of this workshop as outlined by the Czech Republic Ministry of Defence.

Story by NSHQ Public Affairs Office

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