NATO SOF Conference in Budapest – Oct 2018

A NATO SOF conference was held in Budapest, Hungary over a 2-day period. The theme of the conference was interagency cooperation in counterterrorism.

The conference was hosted by the Hungarian Special Operations Command. In attendance were leaders and staff of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) and representatives from the NATO special operations community.

The commander of NSHQ, Vice Admiral Kilrain, kicked off the NATO SOF conference with his address – citing the need to address counterterrorism issues but also warning the attendees to pay attention to hybrid, cyber, and irregular warfare. In addition, Kilrain stated that an interagency approach to counterterrorism is a fundamental operating principle. He went on to say:

“SOF cannot do it (counter terrorism) alone, no one agency can do it alone, and no one nation can do this alone, but SOF can be the galvanizing force and set an example for collaboration as a fundamental operating principle. The interagency approach is not just a label; it is a necessity.”

Numerous briefings and panel discussions took place during the NATO SOF conference with SOF representatives providing feedback to NSHQ on a number of issues and topics.

Dr. Andrea Dew of the US. Naval War College’s Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups provided a presentation on how adversaries exploit the seams and gaps within governments and across government structures. She also noted that in some regions entire generations have grown up in the midst of conflict – a factor that SOF needs to account for in planning for contingency operations.

The keynote speaker of the NATO SOF conference was LTG Michael Nagata. He is the director of Strategic Operational Planning at the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. Nagata has a wealth of experience in special operations.

Members of NATO Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan (NSOCC-A) provided a brief and took part in a discussion about the conflict in Afghanistan and how NATO SOF is collaborating in the theater. The NSOCC-A representatives highlighted the value of NSHQ’s Special Operations School (NSOS) where SOF operators are provided with an excellent pre-deployment course tailored for the Afghanistan war.

NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) is the primary coordination command for all NATO SOF-related activities. NSHQ is located in Mons, Belguim on the grounds of the Supreme Allied Headquarters (SHAPE).


[1] NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) provides strategic SOF advice to NATO, and coordinates the development of SOF capability and interoperability of Allies and Partners.

[2] “NATO SOF: CT Capability Needed?”, SOF News, August 8, 2016.


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