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News Overview 2023

Signing the Letter of Intent

Signing the Letter of Intent

Cooperation Between the NSO and the MW COE Strengthens the Alliance

By Col Carlo Cavalli, ITA-A, Special Advisor to the Commandant, 15 Mar 23

The Commandant of the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), Col Jay Smith together with the Director of the NATO Mountain Warfare (MW) Centre of Excellence (COE), Col Borut Flajšman, signed a Letter of Intent aimed at establishing a general framework within which both NATO MW COE and the NSO agreed to develop cooperation mechanisms and expert exchanges.

The two organizations’ leaders shared the belief that their mutually beneficial relationship will greatly enhance Alliance educational activities ensuring tomorrow’s NATO leaders are more agile and prepared to face future challenges.

Winterfest at the NSO

Winterfest at the NSO

Tasting Delicious Food and Celebrating Together

By Wg Cdr John Riddell, GBR-AF, Deputy Chief of Staff, 01 Mar 23

The latest NATO School Oberammergau (NSO) 70th Anniversary celebration saw staff from 8 of the 22 different nations organise a Winterfest.

These nations, Austria, Canada, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland came together to provide a magnificent selection of food and drink from their own countries that offered the NSO community the chance to challenge their taste buds and enjoy the opportunity to sample the excellent multi-national food and drink on offer.

The event, superbly hosted by Olga and Mathi at the NATO School Recreation Centre, included the first outing from the reformed NATO School Oberammergau Band, ‘Stay Tuned’. The atmosphere throughout the evening was outstanding and filled with fabulous international cuisine, good engagement and conversation that were rounded off with some familiar tunes and some excellent singing from the whole NSO community.

Building on the 225 km langlauf complete the week before, the band and all those in attendance finished the evening by singing about walking 500 miles and 500 more!

The Team of the NSO

The Team of the NSO

Stronger Together - Even on Skis

By LTC Franz Feyerer, AUT-A, Staff Officer for Outreach, 23 Feb 23

Throughout 2023 the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), a DEU-USA bilateral partnership with a staff made up of 22 different nations, is celebrating 70 years of delivering training as NATO’s responsive operational training solution for allied and partner national resiliency, NATO collective defense and integrated deterrence.

As part of the "70th Anniversary celebrations" staff and family members of the NSO took part in a cross-country skiing event took place at the Graswang-Dickelschwaig loop in wonderful weather conditions (almost too good to be true).

This event was well organised by the recreation team Olga and Mathi. 19 members from the NSO team took up the challenge to collect 70 cross-country kilometres together; this is roughly equivalent to the distance from Oberammergau to Starnberg or Innsbruck.

Given the limited training opportunities due to the lack of snow, this seemed like a reasonable challenge. However, it soon turned out that NSO team had significantly underestimated its ability, motivation and ambition. Instead of the targeted 70 km, the team achieved a huge 225 km, which is equivalent to a distance as far as Regensburg! The mission to complete 70 km of cross-country skiing was well and truly successfully completed!

A good start to the anniversary year

A good start to the anniversary year

NSO 70th Anniversary – Robert Burns Supper

By the Public Affairs Office, 16 Feb 23

The programme to celebrate the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO) 70th Anniversary hosted its first event in the NATO Conference Centre on Saturday 28th January 2023. The event, ‘Burns Night Supper 2023’, celebrated the birth of one of Scotland’s most important cultural icons: Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns; this is normally an annual event but due to COVID this is the first Burns Supper the NATO School has hosted since 2020.

The NSO Commandant, Colonel Jay Smith, welcomed the many guests and at the same time he highlighted that the 70th Anniversary was a key milestone for the NATO School which looked forward to the next 70 years and beyond; the NSO is working closely with all key stakeholders to review and update the current German-US bilateral agreement. Colonel Smith confirmed there would be a full programme of events throughout 2023 and he looked forward to celebrating with the local community, the NATO and partnership community and of course the staff and families from the NSO.

The Chieftain (Master of Ceremonies), Deputy Chief of Staff, Wing Commander John Riddell hosted a vibrant evening with excellent food, poetry, music, whisky and song. There were many stand out performances throughout the evening including the Piper from Munich, Konrad STOCK and the famous 'address (speech) to the Haggis' which was impressively delivered by Commander UK RN (Retired) Neil LAW a former NSO member of staff.

Final mentions should be made to the Single Malt Therapy club who provided a multi-national range of Whiskey’s for tasting and to Ms Annicki Wickert who represented MARCUS WURTH Distilleries, a renowned international distillery from near the Black Forest who provided an excellent selection of Whiskey and Gin.


The NSO Completes the Network Security Course for Algeria

By Ms Liliana Serban, ROU-CIV, Naval Postgraduate Course Director, 14 Feb 23

On 26 Jan 23, the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), together with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and the National Preparatory School for Engineering Studies in Algeria completed the Network Security Course, under the auspices of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.

The 10-week course was conducted in a blended format, with the first and last weeks delivered in Algiers, while the intervening 8-weeks were delivered asynchronously.

The course was comprised of 30 officers from the Algerian Ministry of Defence and provided them with the opportunity to learn cyber defence concepts and gain experience using real-world tools and capabilities.

At the end of the course one student stated: "The most valuable elements of the course were the laboratories. These elements helped me to visualise concepts I had only studied in theory".

Gregory Slavonic, the Under Secretary of the Navy at the SOPC

Gregory Slavonic, the Under Secretary of the Navy at the SOPC

A Busy Week for the NSO

By the Public Affairs Officer, 06 Feb 23

During the week of 30 January 2023, the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO) hosted the NATO Senior Officer Policy Course (SOPC) with more than 90 high-ranking military and civilian students, from 17 countries across the Alliance.

Additionally, and for the first time, the NSO also hosted the V Corps Winter Senior Leader’s Forum (WSLF) when the NSO welcomed 86 participants from the US and Poland; this was headed by Lt Gen John Kolasheski, Commanding General V Corps.

The School provided the perfect environment for the WSLF to present subordinate commanders, and their staff, a shared understanding of the V Corps Commanders Operational Approach and Campaign Plan. During this forum all attendees had the opportunity to discuss the current political situation in Europe and to get a common understanding of how the V Corps could support the Alliance now and in the future.

We look forward to welcoming all participants back to the school at some point in the near future.

Students of the NSO

Students of the NSO

The Future of the NSO

By the Public Affairs Office, 16 Jan 23

Due to the pandemic and international security situations, the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO) has faced some challenging years. Nevertheless the School has continued to provide training, conferences and exercises for all NATO entities and selected NATO partners. Since 1975 the NSO has educated more than 190.000 course participants.

For these very reasons, it is gratifying and reassuring for the NSO to be supported by and receive a statement of intent signed by Celeste Wallander, USA, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and Benedikt Zimmer, DEU, State Secretary for the Federal Ministry of Defence.

This document highlights the importance of the NSO and confirms the essential need to maintain this unique training facility in Oberammergau on a long-term basis and for it to be fully equipped for the future.

"Against the background of the current security situation, NATO’s revised Strategic Concept and the refocusing of the Alliance, we are ready to ensure the School remains fit for purpose and continues to exemplify this bilateral success story of the past."

The signing of this statement of intent demonstrates the commitment to maintain the NATO School Oberammergau in the long term and ensure it is fit for the future as it looks forward to celebrating its 70th Anniversary in 2023.


Col Heleg and Colonel Tölkes

Honouring an Exceptional Supporter of the NSO

By Maj Johannes De Waal, NLD-A, JPOD Course Director & Instructor, 11 Jan 23

On behalf of Colonel Jay Smith, Commandant of the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO), Colonel Jac-Peter Tölkes recognised Colonel Ernes Heleg from Logistics Command Armed Forces of BIH with the NATO School Fellowship Award.

This prestigious award recognises an individual who has made a long-term significant contribution to the School. Colonel Heleg is only the fourth recipient of this award over the School's 69 year history.

Working with the NSO since 2012, Col Heleg has been involved in 30 iterations of the NATO Logistics Operations Planning Course (M4-92, NLOPC, former MLOPC). He supported the transition from MLOPC to NLOPC, trained numerous logistic planners, supported dozens of Course Directors and he has given numerous presentations and facilitated 30 Iterations.

He is supporting the Course Directors LOG within the JPOD during with his knowledge, feedback and is always available to help the NSO with their goal to provide the best logistic course possible.

Col Heleg stated: "The NATO School Oberammergau provides a unique possibility for networking, for learning and teachers to develop themselves and get a good basic knowledge on NATO logistic doctrine and developments. I am deeply honoured by this award and recognition".