The annual session of the Steering Committee meeting was held in a virtual mode on the 12th of November 2020 at the NATO Security Force Assistance Centre of Excellence (NATO SFA COE).

In addition to the representatives of the Sponsoring Nations (Albania, Italy and Slovenia), other international representatives were also present as observers (Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, UK and the European External Action Service).

The Director, Col. Massimo Di Pietro, welcomed all the participants, highlighting the adaptation challenges that the Centre had to face throughout this difficult period.

During the event, the activities completed in 2020 and the main projects included in the “2021 Program of Work” were illustrated. Through the year, the widespread use of virtual tools proved fundamental to support the SFA Community and to participate in the numerous NATO forums that analysed the effects of COVID-19 in crisis areas.

Amongst the important projects that were presented was the on-going study concerning the “definition of the professional profile of the SFA specialist,” which attracted particular interest. The NATO SFA COE, recognising the necessity for the SFA activities to designate highly selected personnel, noted the lack of a unique reference profile within NATO. In collaboration with other national and international bodies, the Centre has launched a series of interviews for the collection and the processing of data that is useful for defining the skills, aptitudes and professional training that a SFA specialist should possess to work effectively in any operational environment and at the various levels of operations.

Together with the project on the professional profile, the planning of the training offer of the SFA discipline for 2021 was presented: basic, intermediate and advanced courses, from the tactical to the strategic/institutional level, including the SFA orientation course, the course for SFA operators and the Institutional Advisors.

In addition, another significant initiative of the Centre was illustrated: the drafting of a publication, which sees the involvement of legal representatives of important international agencies and organizations, cooperating in defining the methods of interaction between the SFA and the factors facilitating stabilization and consolidation of institutions in crisis areas. The project, which promotes the rule of law and good governance in the context of SFA, aims to provide an interdisciplinary vision of the legal and political framework in crisis areas, also identifying programs on the promotion of international humanitarian law and human rights in the context of training activities for local forces.

At the end of the meeting, the Sponsoring Nations expressed their appreciation for the valuable results achieved and highlighted the high potential of the Centre of Excellence, not only for the NATO Community but also for the development of the military capabilities of the Sponsoring Nations and also for the opportunities offered in the academic and research sector in support of international cooperation.