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Germany is applying for the seat of the Space Center of Excellence that NATO wants to establish. The defense ministers of the NATO countries could decide on this project as early as November. In addition to Germany, France has applied for the seat of the authority. The Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk / USA, one of the two highest commands in NATO, evaluated the applications from both countries for one year.

France would add the Center of Excellence (CoE) to its new national space command in Toulouse. In Germany, the CoE is to be located in Kalkar (North Rhine-Westphalia). This is where the NATO Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) is another CoE and the headquarters of the Air Force Center's Air Operations Center.

One of the tasks of the JAPCC is to improve the space operations of the allies. The Center for Air Operations (ZentrLuftOp) is a higher command authority of the Air Force and the Luftwaffe's authority for the planning and management of air operations. Here, vital elements such as the Air Force Operations Center with the interdepartmental National Situation and Command Center Security in Airspace, the Inter-departmental Space Operations Center, the Air Intelligence Center of the Air Force and the Geoinformation Center of the Air Force are combined, which perform their tasks synergistically and largely around the Meet clock. Representatives of several European nations are based in Kalkar, as security in the airspace for Central Europe is coordinated from here.

It is speculated that both nations will merge their applications and proposals in line with a European approach. In this way, activities of the CoE would be accommodated together, possibly with two locations and rotating staff. This coordination process will still take some time. A decision could be made in early 2021.

Parallel to the CoE, the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) is preparing the establishment of a “NATO Space Technology Center”. With this she wants to support the efforts for space within NATO. The NCIA leadership is currently reviewing the proposed center. A decision is expected this year. The new center will bring together the various space-related activities of the NCIA, from satellite communications and research to operational support. Everything is to be summarized in a so-called “virtual hub” for space know-how, projects and tools.

In this way, NATO takes account of the development that space has gained in military importance. So far it has only been a place to operate satellites. In the meantime it is an operational area for many nations and organizations. On December 20, 2019, the armed forces of the United States of America set up their sixth armed force, the United States Space Force (USSF). This year there are more officer candidates in the USSF than in the US Air Force (USAF). This shows how important this topic and rapid skill building is to the American leadership.

In November 2020, NATO also declared space an area of ​​operations. Now a space-focused NATO Center of Excellence (COE) is to be established. As a CoE, the NATO designates a national or multinational military agency that is designated by the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) was officially recognized as a joint armed forces competence center for a key issue. There are currently 24 officially recognized CoEs. The CoEs are officially not part of the command structure. They are financed by so-called Sponsoring Nations. These also provide the staff. Her tasks include basic work, further development and testing or review of concepts, holding meetings and conferences as well as training and further education for leadership personnel and specialists from NATO nations. They are often referred to as think tanks. Here you can discuss, compare, adjust and find a common position - without all NATO members having to agree. A 25th is to follow with the Space CoE.

Andrè Forkert