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NATO Centres of Excellence: A Security Threat?

In this article, Kosciuszko Chair Research Assistant Maria Juczewska discusses the reasons for personnel replacement in the Counter-intelligence Centre of Excellence in Warsaw​ pointing to the risk of NATO infiltration by foreign intelligence services.

It is essential for the American public to understand that post-Soviet countries still struggle with their past. Their new military or civilian structures may be filled with people whose allegiance is unclear. Those dubious connections may pose a serious security threat to the entire NATO structure. This existential threat needs to be properly understood and taken into account when evaluating the actions of the newly elected Polish government and the radical changes it introduces. Those changes have justification that can be easily investigated. However, they require thorough and fair media reporting, including a better understanding of the reality in post-Soviet countries. Otherwise, we run the risk of NATO infiltration by foreign intelligence services.

A legitimate night raid by the new Polish authorities neutralized a suspected nest of FSB operatives and its native collaborators ensconced at the Warsaw NATO Centre for Excellence counter-intelligence offices on December 18, 2015.

According to NATO’s website “Centres of Excellence (COEs) are international military organisations that train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries. They assist in doctrine development, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability and capabilities, and test and validate concepts through experimentation. They offer recognised expertise and experience that is of benefit to the Alliance, and support the transformation of NATO.” However, “NATO does not directly fund COEs nor are they part of the NATO command structure.” The Warsaw COE is based at a temporary location and is still awaiting accreditation.

The counter-intelligence office was founded just before the conclusion of the previous Polish administration’s term of office in 2015. It was staffed by former members of the Polish Military Counter-intelligence Service – SKW. This organization enjoyed peculiar rights. According to a 2006 law, it was allowed to cooperate with intelligence services of other countries. However, any such cooperation had to be authorized by the Prime Minister upon consultation with the Minister of Defense.

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