NATO opens Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence in Krakow, Poland

NATO opened a counter intelligence hub in Poland on the 19 October aimed at expanding the alliance’s intelligence-gathering capabilities. The NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence (CI COE) in the southern Polish city of Krakow is focused on developing the “basic norms, policies and methods” for the intelligence agencies of NATO allies, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said during opening ceremonies at the venue attended by his Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak counterparts.

Espionage now “covers all areas of life and affects not only our armies, but also affects critical infrastructure, affects our civilian life, and it is implemented through both cybernetic tools and classical spy penetration”, Macierewicz added.

Developed from a Polish-Slovak initiative in 2015, the Centre is supported by Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. It is the 24th NATO COE and will be led by Colonel Robert Bala.

Coordinated by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States, COEs are not part of the NATO command structure, but are part of a wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements. NATO does not fund COEs. Instead, they receive national or multinational support, with ‘Framework Nations’, ‘Sponsoring Nations’ and ‘Contributing Nations’ financing the operating costs of the institutions. Twenty-one COEs have either received NATO accreditation or are in the development stages, covering a wide range of activities from cyber security and military medicine to counterterrorism.

In October 2016, NATO appointed its first Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security (ASG-I&S) and earlier this year opened its new Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD). In response to the challenging threat environment posed by an assertive Russia and the rise of terrorism and instability in the south, the member states are fundamentally adapting how NATO organises and analyses intelligence.