Maria Juczewska, the assistant for the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies and Master’s degree candidate at IWP, spoke on April 5th about the security risks posed by NATO Centres of Excellence. Highly irregular and opaque interactions between COEs and non-NATO partners should be the source of considerable concern for the United States, Ms. Juczewska argued.
Although Centres of Excellence (COEs) are not directly funded by NATO, they have access to crucial and sensitive NATO information and are also not in NATO’s chain of command.
Ms. Juczewska’s lecture focused on COEs in Poland and their mission, which is to provide NATO with counterintelligence on Eastern Europe: examples include the current unrest in Ukraine, as well as cyber intelligence issues.
Maria points out that although COEs fit into the network provisioning the United States with intelligence about security issues pertinent to Eastern Europe, they are also tied into backchannel interactions with organizations outside of the NATO alliance structure. An example of this was a time in which the activities of one COE in southern Poland fell off the map for 18 months with no explanation of its activities being speedily provided to the United States, which found out only after this period of time had elapsed.
Ms. Juczewska concluded that for Polish COEs to be effective in NATO, they must be closely observed. They currently are not, however. The American intelligence community must take pains to ensure that COEs are thoroughly accounted for in the entirety of their operations.
This lecture was part of a series on the Intermarium sponsored by the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at The Institute of World Politics.