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Global learning opportunities from NATO  

Rob Fagan reflects on his participation in NATO’s online Crisis management and disaster response course (CMDR), noting that its delivery and content were second to none.

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(Image: berya113/123rf)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is increasingly involved throughout Europe and beyond in disaster response with military and civilian assets and resources. This has been going on for decades in limited form but Covid-19 serves to highlight the growing and increased nature of this involvement.

Learning these complicated mechanisms by which NATO responds, what capacities it has and how it partners with nation-states and other organisations in and outside of NATO used to be complex work reserved solely for Allied Military Staff Officers in Europe.  

Now, thanks to the Capacity Building Institute (CBI) working in concert with the University of California at Irvine and the NATO Centre of Excellence for Crisis Management, this important information is brought to individuals around the world who want to know more about this important niche capacity for emergency response in the form of a specialised certification course.

The course is not free, but as a graduate of the programme I can attest to its worthiness, importance, quality and professional value for the money spent. On the CBI website you can click on the banner at the top for the CMDR course or go to the courses section and look for the NATO Crisis Management Course – both link to the registration homepage.  

In association with the University of California at Irvine, the programme consists of two six-week courses (parts one and two) that are to be done sequentially in the same semester and there are now two offerings per year in the spring and autumn. The certificate is awarded upon completion of the two required courses. The most appealing feature of this programme is that it focused on one’s understanding of, and ability to respond to, crises and disasters in today’s globalised world. I found it to be an ideal option for those just starting a career track in crisis response, those transitioning into a new career, or those simply wanting enhanced credentials and applicable skills in their current jobs.
More than almost any other programme I’ve participated in, the truly global makeup of the participating students challenged and enhanced the course greatly, as different perspectives were taken in from around the world. Of note is that the course has a healthy balance of NATO doctrinal procedures and organisation. Along with the future of crisis response, it pertains to the increased severity and number of natural disasters around the world related to climate change, as well as countering many different forms of violence.

There were also considerations for the various types of populations we serve in terms of immigration, along with gender-related issues for emergency managers to consider as well. In addition to course content, the course is ably led by two very professional and knowledgeable instructors with extensive NATO practical experience. They lead students through an interesting table-top exercise in part two of the certification, in a fictitious setting with real-world challenging problems facing NATO emergency response today; something that is not normally done outside the context of other global conflicts and issues.  

I cannot be more supportive of this course and I challenge you to take it! You’ll find that even if your current responsibilities do not involve a NATO nation in an international context, there is still a lot of value in acting locally, but thinking globally in today’s world; this course can help you do that.  

Previously, such detailed knowledge about NATO was offered to uniformed personnel at either the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany or the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. Both of these institutions still offer globally relevant courses on multiple topics but they are primarily for those already in some type of NATO role in an official capacity, while the NATO CMDR is open to everyone.  

Make 2021 the year to expand horizons and consider this important course to enhance professional portfolios.

Train today; live tomorrow!

Rob Fagan, 15/02/2021
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