In an effort to streamline and cut the costs of its ISR and information technology operations, NATO will consolidate five agencies to create a new entity: the NATO Communications and Information Agency.
The NCIA, to be established July 1, will be responsible for missile and cyber defense, C4ISR support to alliance operations, and a joint ISR initiative announced at the Chicago summit, according to a NATO news release. It will also be the IT provider to all of NATO.
The agencies being merged to form the NCIA are:
NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency, or NC3A.
NATO Communication and Information Systems Services Agency.
NATO Air Command and Control System Management Agency.
The Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Programme.
Elements of NATO Headquarters Information and Communications Technology services.
The consolidation is scheduled to be complete by 2015 and is expected to reduce the operating costs of the existing agencies by 20 percent, according to NATO.
The NCIA, to be led by retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Koen Gijsbers, will have its headquarters in Brussels with “major presences” in The Hague and Mons, Belgium, according to NATO.
The consolidation is part of a broader NATO efficiency and cost-cutting drive that will merge the functions performed by 14 agencies into three new organizations: the NCIA, the NATO Supply Agency and the NATO Procurement Agency.
An earlier NATO merger — the creation of NC3A in 1996 from the former SHAPE Technical Centre and the NATO Communications and Information Systems Agency — provided some guidance for the development of the new agency, said outgoing NC3A General Manager Georges D’hollander.
“The birth of NC3A was one of the very few instances in NATO’s history — prior to the current reform — where agencies were merged,” he said via email.
The creation of the NC3A, D’hollander said, demonstrated that “while controversial at the outset, the merger of two very different (some would have even said incompatible) institutions created a body that has proven to be more effective and efficient than its constituent parts.”
“The reform was successful,” he added, “because the process was not overly defined; the nations laid down a clear mandate but left it up to the designated management to work out the details.”
D’hollander said the consolidation that formed the NC3A resulted in cost savings of 20 percent over 15 years — “similar to what is now being asked of the current effort.”