NATO Conference

51st Conference of Commandants

hosted by the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

Flags of the countries participating in the CoC in front of a building of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

This year, for the very first time, Germany is hosting the Conference of Commandants (CoC), an international event attended by numerous commandants from military academies worldwide. Taking place at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg from 17 to 19 May, the 2022 Conference of Commandants brings together 97 high-ranking attendees to discuss the topic of ‘Resilience’. 

Participants of the 1972 Conference of Commandants sitting around a large conference table

Participants of the first Conference of Commandants, which was held in Rome 1972


The Conference of Commandants takes place annually at constantly changing locations. In addition to the sharing of experience and knowledge on current developments in the education and training of military leaders, the Conference focuses on a different topic every year. Through specialist presentations and workshops on the subject, the participants examine current trends and methods in the field of adult education with a focus on the special requirements of the military. 

Commandant, Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
Major General Oliver Kohl, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College Bundeswehr Command and Staff College/Michael Gundelach
The direct exchange with representatives from other countries is important. We often find that we are facing exactly the same challenges or are embarking on similar projects.

How it All Started

The first Conference of Commandants took place at the NATO Defense College (NDC) in Rome, lasting two days from 24 to 25 May 1972. Delegations from twelve countries and thirteen higher education institutions attended the first Conference, which was chaired by Vice Admiral J.C. O’Brien, the then Commandant of the NDC.

The aim of the first Conference was to discuss the achievements that had been made so far in the education of civilian and military personnel of the armed forces. The attendees examined what changes might be necessary to take account of developments in the political, social and economic fields. Back then, each delegate gave a ten-minute address. These presentations focussed on the future of higher education in defence and security in an environment of change.

The Conference Today

Today, the College, chaired by the NDC Commandant, organises the annual Conference of Commandants for an exchange of information and ideas on higher defence education. This international event is attended not only by the commandants of the high-level military academies of the Allied nations. The group of attendees has been extended to include delegations from partner nations, national defence institutes, private companies, universities, think tanks and other academic institutions.

The aim of the Conference is to: 

  • improve the academic programme and educational methods,
  • foster mutual understanding and awareness, and 
  • identify areas in which higher education institutions serving the defence community can provide assistance and support to each other.

The 51st Conference of Commandants is taking place from 17 to 19 May 2022. For the first time, the event is being held at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg. 

by Ines Blandau  email

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