“Train as we fight”

Exercises are an important tool through which the Alliance tests and validates its concepts, procedures, systems, and tactics. Exercises also build interoperability and contribute to defence reform.

While individual NATO countries conduct exercises as a routine part of their preparation for operations, they also participate in Alliance-level exercises. Frequent exercises ensure that forces are able to operate effectively and efficiently in demanding crisis situations. They also provide a venue for pursuing increased interoperability and defence reform with partners.

What does this mean in practice?

Exercises serve a number of specific purposes.

  • Training and experience.
  • Testing and validating structures
  • Interoperability
  • Defence Reform

Which NATO bodies have a central role?

Allied Command Operations holds lead responsibility for NATO military exercises. It works closely with Allied Command Transformation, which supports the planning, execution, and assessment of exercises. Both organizations are assisted by the Alliance’s network of education, training, and assessment institutions, as well as national structures.

How did it evolve?

NATO has been conducting Alliance-level exercises for over fifty-five years, since 1951. In the early years of the Alliance, NATO forces conducted exercises to strengthen their ability to practice collective defence. In other words, they were conducted to ensure that forces were prepared in the case of an attack.