NATO’s dual focus for military engineering capabilities

Combat Engineer 2017, which will take place in Nuremberg in November, will provide the platform for military and industry to develop military engineering capabilities which meet the current threat landscape.

The current counter-insurgency and terrorism threat, coupled with a traditional enemy in Europe, has created a dual focus for NATO member and partner nations when considering military engineering capabilities. Since the highly successful 2016 meeting we have been actively engaging with our military engineering community to discuss how Combat Engineer 2017 can meet the needs and requirements of the community.

Europe – Bridging the gap
From the scale of investment in European defence from NATO partners and the European Union we have already seen the continued development of military engineer capabilities via the Enhanced Forward Presence mission. Several military engineers we spoke to have indicated a key strategic requirement is to develop non-lethal capabilities which will deny the enemy’s freedom of movement.

This has included developing new area denial and anti-access systems, building self-sustaining tactical bases or researching innovative gap crossing systems. We have already seen this come to life with the current infrastructure projects that are currently underway in Eastern Europe in support of the Enhanced Forward Presence mission.

However, the drive for interoperability and standardisation across NATO partners within engineering procurement remains prevalent. Feedback delivered during the previous Combat Engineer meeting regarding the Anakonda 2016 exercise has allowed NATO MILENG COE to advance their bridging doctrine. This will allow nations, as well as industry, understand the interoperable requirements within communication bridging.

IEDs – A familiar foe
The increased presence of ISIS in the Middle East, coupled with a heightened terrorist threat across mainland Europe, has created an urgent requirement for nations to actively increase their non-fatal counter mobility and counter IED assets. The sophisticated technology available to insurgency groups and home-grown terrorists have created weapons which have become more difficult to detect. Military engineers need to stay one-step ahead by using technology, such as chemical detection, UAVs and UGVs, to locate devices quickly and effectively.

However, once the device is located the challenge is to secure the area, neutralise the device and secure evidence to apprehend the perpetrators. Military engineers are only too aware of the changing tactics used by the enemy, with devices and payloads varying according to the materials available.
Engineers still require traditional assets such as robots but are also increasingly using electronic counter-measures alongside to deny the enemy an ability to detonate from afar. Military, governments and first-response agencies will have an active interest within this section of the meeting.

The meeting
Combat Engineer 2017 has evolved accordingly with a pre-conference Focus Day split to cover two separate themes: Advances in Countering Improvised Explosive Devices and Energising Future Missions, to meet the demands of NATO members, (as well as government and first response agencies where applicable), in this fast-changing environment.

The main two-day conference will feature defensive warfighting, mobility and counter mobility, infrastructure building, plant vehicles and protective mobility. Military engineers have already begun to confirm their attendance, with a senior speaker line-up already confirmed.

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