Joint Targeting Programme


07 Dec 2016

Training Curriculum Advancing NATO Targeting Competency

By Lieutenant Colonel Michael Buchkoski
Department Director, Joint Targeting Interoperability Curriculum (JTIC) Department


In January 2015, the Joint Targeting Education and Training Programme at the NATO School Oberammergau (NSO) was officially activated with the aim to increase targeting competency across the Alliance. Over the past two years, the Programme has trained over 1,500 international students in disciplines from basic targeting fundamentals to advanced-level operational courses. The aim of this article is to articulate the main achievements of the Joint Targeting Interoperability Curriculum (JTIC) Programme and provide an outlook for the Programme's future.

Prior to establishment, it was estimated that JTIC would draw in approximately 500 students a year. Strong enrollment in the Programme continues to surpass initial estimates with nearly 700 students attending residential courses in 2016. With 27 Nations participating in its training curriculum, JTIC reports an increase of almost eight percent in overall attendance from 2015 to 2016. Respectively, Germany, Canada and Italy have led enrollment for the second year in a row. Projected enrollment for 2017 continues this upward trend with nations requesting all available seats for each of the JTIC courses.

An essential part of the Programme's success is a professional staff comprising proficient and experienced instructors. The JTIC cadre remains operationally relevant with special emphasis focused on individual training, professional development, and conference attendance. The current multinational staff from Canada, Italy, and the United States manages, modifies, and instructs a curriculum consisting of four integrated residential courses and an emerging set of mobile training events. However, prospective targeting instructors from other NATO Nations are needed for JTIC to endure as well as to facilitate a transition of course management from the United States European Command to NATO by 2018.

To foster interoperability, operational readiness, and cost efficiency, JTIC developed a new procedure in July 2016 for granting select personnel facilitated access into the curriculum. Ordinarily, students must complete the prerequisite entry module - NATO Joint Targeting Staff Course - prior to enrolling in the NATO Joint Intermediate Target Development Course. Feedback and comments from the Targeting Community highlighted a necessity to allow experienced and proficient targeting personnel to bypass the NATO Joint Targeting Staff Course. As of December 2016, 10 candidates successfully completed the online 'bypass test' and advanced into the curriculum. With the full endorsement of Allied Command Operations and Allied Command Transformation, JTIC will continue to administer the bypass test next year to optimize targeting competency across the Alliance.

JTIC recognizes and acknowledges a wider challenge facing the Alliance - the planning, coordination and integration of lethal and non-lethal targeting. Crosstalk and synchronization amongst various staff functions are key factors. JTIC actively engages in the dialogue to coordinate lethal and non-lethal capabilities to meet the challenges of contemporary operations. The curriculum encourages critical thinking through interactive plenary lectures, practical exercises, and facilitated syndicates. The recent publication of the new NATO targeting doctrine stresses a well-developed, flexible joint targeting process blending a variety of capabilities to achieve military objectives. JTIC also facilitates the Target Engagement Authority for Senior Leaders (TEASL) seminar, offered only as a mobile training event. The aim of this seminar is to facilitate an advanced discussion amongst Commanders and Senior Staffs concerning their respective organization's execution of the joint targeting process, staff contributions to that process, and Target Engagement Authority decisions during combat operations.

Overall, JTIC has repeatedly adapted to better align institutional solutions with operational requirements over the last two years. The Programme has matured into a comprehensive curriculum of instruction addressing NATO's critical Joint Targeting training shortfall. Expert targeting instructors deliver an understanding of complex material in a multinational environment. Scheduling modifications to the 2017 academic programme will allow students to complete the entire curriculum during one consecutive 4-week training block. The creation of a bypass test maximizes the instructor-to-student ratio and provides cost savings for future participants. And finally, JTIC is contributing to the collective discussion on synchronizing lethal and non-lethal capabilities.

Mission Success, Effects on Target.


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