The military level of NORDEFCO is divided into five Cooperation Areas (COPAs) subordinate to the Military Coordination Commitee (MCC).
The COPAS are manned with senior representatives, typically colonels or navy captains, from each of the four countries on the military level. These representatives hold relevant national decision making authority and appropriate mandate in order to fulfil the tasks given to the specific area.
The main task of the COPAs is to coordinate between the nations within their area. The COPAs can decide to start working groups for specific activities and the working groups will report back their results and recommendations on how to achieve positive effects within the activity.
The recommendations from the COPAs form the basis for the agreements that are made in the Military Coordination Committee and the Policy Steering Committee.
The five Cooperation Areas are:
- Capabilities (COPA CAPA)
- Human Resources & Education (COPA HR&E)
- Training & Exercises (COPA TR&EX)
- Operations (COPA OPS)
- Armaments (COPA ARMA)
The COPAs cover the whole defence force spectrum but with different time perspectives. To illustrate this: The COPA Strategic Development looks into the future, up to 20 years ahead, whereas the COPA Operations major concern is Nordic cooperation within on-going operations.
Cooperation Area Capabilities (COPA CAPA)
COPA CAPA addresses the Nordic nation’s development plans as well as processes with the aim of identifying areas for capability cooperation.
Based on common needs, COPA CAPA identifies areas of mutual benefit, with the intent of exploring the possibilities of reducing total costs and promoting operational effectiveness.
Within COPA CAPA, a number of high-priority capabilitiy areas are subject to deeper studies and common projects. This list over prioritized activities contains those capabilities perceived as giving the greatest potential for cooperation.
Activities within COPA CAPA are normally the result of comparison of study or development plans between the countries. The activities may span over several years. To achieve substantial economic gains, the key is to cooperate from the first steps in the process, including harmonizing capability requirements. There is a close link between COPA CAPA and other cooperation areas, since commonly developed capabilities provide a basis for combining education, training, exercises, armaments, logistics and, if decided, for combined contributions to operations.
Cooperation Area Human Resources and Education (COPA HR&E)
Cooperation Area Human Resources and Education will mainly address cooperation within the areas of individual training and courses, veterans´ issues and the various aspects of military education, such as the Peace Support Operations Education and Training programmes.
The benefits of coordinating military education between the Nordic countries are economical as well as operationally rational. The possibility to arrange common courses is in many ways a better approach than similar or identical courses in all nations.
The legacy of the former NORDCAPS PSO Education & Training, where courses are divided between the Nordic Training Centres, is an on-going activity within COPA HR&E area of responsibility.
Cooperation Area Training and Exercises (COPA TR&EX)
COPA Training and Exercises will continuously identify possibilities to coordinate and harmonize military training activities among the NORDEFCO nations and facilitate a combined and joint exercise plan for a continuation of five years.
Common exercises are no news to the Nordic nations, and COPA TR&EX will ensure the continuation as well as further development of the training and exercising. Large scale exercises and some very specialized unit training often prove difficult for the single nations to afford or to be able to arrange. The main priority of COPA TR&EX is the Combined Joint Nordic Exercise Plan (CJNEP), which is a five-year exercise plan, put together by the Nordic nations.
Related to the Exercise Plan the arrangements for cross-border air exercises will be expanded and developed. The mutual use of exercise areas, firing ranges and facilities is being investigated, in order to find efficient ways to benefit from already existing military infrastructure.
Cooperation Area Operations (COPA OPS)
COPA Operations will plan, manage and support already agreed activities and generate and identify new initiatives in the areas of single service operations, joint international operations, logistics and movement and transportation in order to enhance the Nordic cooperation in the area of military operations.
The focus for COPA OPS is Afghanistan. All the Nordic nations contribute to the ISAF operation and close cooperation has been established within the areas of medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters, logistics and the operational mentoring (OMLT) of the Afghan Army. These activities improves the operational effect of the Nordic nations and have a positive economical impact.
COPA operations also develop future plans for the mentoring and partnering in connection to the transition of responsibility to the Afghan Army, in order to secure a rational Nordic approach in the transition process.