160311opex250Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) hosted a two-day workshop between the Joint Warfare Centre’s Concepts, Capability Integration and Experimentation (CCI&E) and Allied Command Transformation’s Operational Experimentation (OPEX) branches in Norfolk on March 9. The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the efficient and effective integration of new capabilities into exercises while minimizing risks.

Captain Stoops, the Branch Head for OPEX stated, “We are working to capitalize on the ground work and success that was achieved in Trident Juncture 15 where we integrated 7 new capabilities into the exercise. This work is not only in-line with our direction and guidance but also provides Project Officers and Programme Managers a means to advance their work in an operationally representative environment.”

Developing more experimentation within the Alliance exercises directly aligns with the vision of SACT himself, General Denis Mercier, as indicated when he stated, at the end of Trident Juncture 2015, that exercises represent “a perfect laboratory for new experimentation.” Training exercises also provide key opportunities to make small steps toward implementing new capabilities. In support of this guidance, a team from ACT OPEX branch works with members of the JWC CCI&E. Together they discuss how to integrate experiments into exercises more effectively. The main challenges discussed are the definition of a Venue Coordination authority, the institutionalisation of integration of Transformational Activities in the planning of the exercise and a dynamic Capability Integration process between OPEX and CCI&E branches because getting more activities integrated requires an active role to support them through the exercise planning process, execution, data collection, analysis and reporting.

This is the second workshop on this topic. The first was held by the JWC in January in Stavanger, Norway and it focused on developing a common vision for joint capability integration in support of NATO’s operational level exercises and doctrine, including experimentation and analysis. This second collaboration was focused on updating documentation and capturing the lessons from TRJE15.

The two-day workshop was also an opportunity to exchange ideas and comments on the development of a Common Activity Picture of Concept Development and Experimentation (CD&E). The workshop helped improve the CD&E 365 website and the future “Experimentation in Exercises” short guide that will help Project leads on the path to integrate their project in exercises.

The tools discussed during this workshop are currently at different level of maturity but CCI&E and OPEX are confident they will become great vectors of experimentation’s integration within exercises and vectors of communication, synchronisation and cooperation within the CD&E community.