In September 2022 the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina faced the toughest test in its 16-year history.
More than 800 soldiers were assessed against more than 2100 tasks - to see if they are able operate to the same exacting international standards as more than 70 nations around the world.
In the culmination of a four year, two level process of progressively more challenging evaluations. AFBiH passed the assessment with an “excellent” rating in three out of five areas, joining more than 13,000 troops from 15 partner countries in completing the programme.
This means that their forces are certified to be used as part of international operations (not just with NATO, but also EU and UN missions) showing that they can work using the same language, same procedures and same equipment as many militaries around the world.
This is vital to tackling modern security challenges. We know that no country can solve all of complex and interconnected security challenges we all face alone. So militaries from different nations will regularly have to work together – whether that's supporting peace, defending against cyber threats, or working to save the lives of civilians trapped by rising flood waters.
The Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback Programme (OCC E&F) sets common standards all nations have to meet – so you can put soldiers from dozens of nations together, and they can instantly work as one team. Being able to do this is called 'interoperability.'
There are two levels to the OCC Process, each with two parts: one self-evaluation, and one NATO Evaluation.
- So level 1 is made up of: Self Evaluation Level 1 (SEL 1) and NATO Evaluation Level 1 (NEL 1)
- AFBiH successfully completed these evaluations in September 2019 and September 2020
- Level 2 consists of Self Evaluation Level 2 (SEL 1) and NATO Evaluation Level 2 (NEL 2).
- AFBiH successfully completed SEL 1 in September 2021. NEL 2 was completed in September 2022.
OCC process timeline.
Once a unit has achieved
the NEL 2 standard, they are known as a 'declared' unit. Once a unit is
declared, it can enter the NATO pool of forces – and can take part in NATO
exercises and operations. They can still only be deployed if their government
sends them (every nation has a different approval process but the nation MUST
be the ones to volunteer forces). They must be reassessed every 3 years.