Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters

Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters
Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters new logo.png
Logo of the COE CSW
Active26 May 2009 - present
Countries Finland


 United States
AllegianceFlag of NATO.svg NATO
RoleTransformation of NATO
Garrison/HQKiel Naval Base, Germany
Motto(s)Meet the Experts – Get Access to Competence
DirectorRear Admiral (lh) (OF-6) DEU N Christian Bock
Executive DirectorCaptain (OF-5) DEU N Eike Wetters

The Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW) is an international military organization founded to support NATO's transformation program. As part of the NATO Centres of Excellence programme the COE CSW was established in April 2007 and officially accredited by NATO on 26 May 2009.[1] It is co-located with the staff of the German Einsatzflottille 1 in Kiel whose commander is double-hatted as COE CSW Director.

Confined and Shallow Waters (CSW)

Confined and shallow waters are a cramped, congested and contested operational environment that is characterised by complexity, interaction, surprise, speed, disguise plus a diversity of actors.[2] Furthermore, the rapid as well as unpredictable change of conditions and circumstances, including the frequent shift of tactical advantage from one side to another, is typical. With these attributes, these waters constitutes an extremely challenging littoral battlespace which affects the freedom of movement and action by specific geographical and geophysical factors[3] as well as manifold threats and risks. On the other side, CSW also offers a broad range of possibilities and opportunities for military operations. Principally being a maritime sphere, CSW is a theatre of operations also being significantly interrelated with the other military domains (air, land, space and cyber). Consequently, the greatest possible joint interaction takes place in CSW involving all major military components and services.[4]

Mission and task

As a hub of knowledge, COE CSW develops or provides contributions to doctrines, concepts and procedures. Part of the business is the conduction of experiments and analyses, the provision of competence for NATO initiatives, projects, exercises and operations.[5] Furthermore, COE CSW works on a range of projects related to operations in CSW that are initiated by specific 'Requests for Support'.

The work of the COE CSW is usually initiated through a Request for Support by a NATO entity or a participating nation.[6] The annual Programme of Work contains various 'Projects', which have a customer and defined product with a clear end date and end state, and a number of 'Activities', which cover the permanent support to NATO Transformation. Furthermore, the COE CSW plans and conducts work related events like conferences and workshops.

Work environment

Since the NATO COEs are set up as think tanks, they do not focus only on the military, but also co-operate closely with other governmental as well as non-governmental organizations, maritime-oriented institutions, academics, and economy. Among the partners of the COE CSW are:[7]


Germany acts as 'Framework Nation' for COE CSW providing the infrastructure, basic services, financial contributions and core staff personnel as well as a number of "Subject Matter Experts". Upon the foundation of COE CSW, Greece, the Netherlands, and Turkey acceded as sponsoring nations providing "Subject Matter Experts" and financial contributions. In 2009 Poland and in 2014 Italy also joined as Sponsoring Nations. NATO COEs are open for NATO partners in terms of providing Subject Matter Expertise and financial contributions. In 2011, COE CSW welcomed Finland, the first "Contributing Nation" to a NATO COE. Finally, the United States of America is participating in the COE CSW through the 'Personnel Exchange Program' with the German Navy.


The supervisory board of COE CSW is the 'Steering Committee' composed of a chairman (allocated by the Framework Nation but, without a vote) and a representative of each participating nation (each having one vote). The Steering Committee monitors the work progress and approves the annual report and budget. The COE CSW is led by a Director with the rank of Rear admiral (lh) who at the same time is double-hatted as commander of the German Flotilla 1. The Executive Director, a navy captain, is responsible for daily operations. According to the memorandum of understanding between NATO and the participants, the COE CSW is structured in three branches:

  • Development and External Relations (DER)
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME)
  • Analysis and Implementation (AI)

Additionally, three supporting sections complete the structure:

  • Financial Control (FC)
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Administrative Support (AS)

The staff of Flotilla 1 assists with administrative issues such as security and logistics.

In 2011 the COE CSW adopted a Matrix Structure aiming at expanding the capacities to execute the programme of work. For this purpose the branches have been superimposed by a Project Organization, pooling and allocating the available expertise for different assignments.

Based on the experience of the past years and especially to optimize the assistance to NATO Transformation in all four fields of work, the COE CSW implemented a new working structure in January 2015. While still consisting of three branches, now the structure clearly differentiates between productive work and supporting management functions:[8]

  • Concept and Doctrine Development (CD) - production
  • Training and Analysis (TA) - production
  • Staff Operations and External Relations (SE) - management

The sections IT and AS are now allocated to the Staff Operations and External Relations branch, while the FC section is still directly associated with the Executive Director.


  • Buss, Heinz Georg: COE CSW - Avantgarde im NATO-Transformationsprozess; in: Marineforum 11-2015 p. 4 ff
  • Buss, Heinz Georg; Riewesell, Stefan: Maritime C-IED and Harbour Protection: A Joint Effort; in: The Transformer Fall 2013 Vol 9 Issue 2 p. 18
  • Stricker, Hans-Joachim: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters COE CSW - Das COE als Ausdruck unserer besonderen nationalen Fähigkeiten im Bündnis; in: Marineforum 6-2007 p. 3 f
  • Weber, Fritz-Rudolf: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters - Think Tank für die NATO; in: Marineforum 1/2-2010 p. 11 ff
  • Wiedemann, Jan: COE CSW celebrates fifth anniversary; in: NAVAL FORCES III/2014 p. 90 f
  • Wilson, Brian: Five maritime security developments that will resonate for a generation; in: Harvard Law School National Security Journal; 2015-03-11


  1. ^ Faermann, Matthias (25 May 2009). "Deutsche Marine - Pressemeldung (Fachartikel): Neues Nato-Expertenzentrum an der Kieler Förde nimmt Fahrt auf" (in German). Presse- und Informationszentrum Marine. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  2. ^ COE CSW (2015). "Prospective Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters" (PDF). COE CSW. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  3. ^ Eloot, Katrien; Vantorre, Marc (13 October 2011). "Ship Behaviour in Shallow and Confined Water: an Overview of Hydrodynamic Effects through EFD" (PDF; 7,9 MB). Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ Franken, Alexander. "Die NATO an der Kieler Förde" (pdf). Hardthöhenkurier 2/2012 (in German). pp. 50–53. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. ^ NATO Military Committee memorandum 236-03 "MC Concept for COEs" 4 December 2003
  6. ^ Schievelkamp, Ronny. "Master Thesis: Germany and NATO Centres of Excellence" (pdf). Norwegian Defence University College. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ "COE CSW - Our Partners". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. ^ "COE CSW - Structure". Retrieved 18 March 2015.

External links

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