NATO Centres of Excellence (CoEs) are nationally or multi-nationally funded institutions accredited by NATO. The primary purpose of CoEs is to train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries, assist in doctrine development, identify lessons-learned, improve interoperability and capabilities, and develop, test and validate concepts through experimentation. We offer recognised expertise and experience in a given functional area and serve as subject-matter experts. CoEs work to the benefit of the Alliance, support capability enhancement and the overall transformation of NATO, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the NATO command structure.

Although not part of the NATO command structure, we are part of a wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements. Designed to complement the Alliance's current resources, CoEs cover a wide variety of areas, with each one focusing on a specific field of expertise to enhance NATO capabilities. The overall responsibility for CoEs - establishment, accreditation, preparation of candidates for approval, and periodic assessments, lies with Allied Command Transformation (ACT), in coordination with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

The Crisis Management and Disaster Response Centre of Excellence (CMDR COE), located in Sofia, the Republic of Bulgaria, was established on 28 August 2013 and received official accreditation as the 21st NATO COE on 31 March 2015. The CMDR COE primary area of responsibility - crisis management and disaster response (CMDR), is coupled by a broad thematic portfolio including relevant cross-cutting topics such as resilience, climate change, protection of civilians, gender mainstreaming. Despite not being an operational body, the CMDR COE provides research and analysis, tailored education and training for senior experts (strategic / operational level), support to concept development and experimentation, doctrine and standardisation, lessons-learned. We pay specific attention to leveraging modern technology and therefore have a fully equipped operational laboratory with significant testing and validation capacity. 


The CMDR COE received Unconditional Accreditation and NATO Quality Assurance Certificate (No.ACT/JFD/HCEIT/TT+1548/Ser:NU) in 2019. As a result, all CMDR COE courses bear a NATO-Approved status as abiding by strict quality standards and criteria. 


The CMDR COE currently has one Framework Nation - the Republic of Bulgaria, and four Sponsoring Nations – the Hellenic Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and Romania. Generally, a Framework Nation takes on the responsibility of developing the concept and implementation of a CoE. In addition, it agrees to provide the physical operation space as well as personnel to run the institution. Sponsoring Nations contribute financially and provide personnel, whose salary they cover. Contributing Nations may provide financial support or some other service that is of use to the functioning of the CoE.


Each CoE is founded upon Memoranda of Understanding (MoU): Operational MOU between the Participating Nations, and Functional MoU between the Participating Nations and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Headquarters (HQ SACT). For more information, consult the CMDR COE's MoUs here




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