As close as it gets to reality

The multinational command exercise ‘Combined Joint Staff Exercise, CJSE 17’ began today in Enköping, Karlskrona and Uppsala. More than 1200 staff from 24 different nations will train together, at both tactical and operational levels.

Brigadier Bengt Axelsson in front of flag poles with international flags.
Brigadier Bengt Axelsson is the exercise commander for CJSE for the seventh time. Photo: Leah Jorsell/Försvarsmakten

— This cross-border co-operation is vital, and I’m happy to be a part of the exercise concept for both CJSE and VIKING exercises, as we are conducting something many other countries could not manage, commented Brigadier Bengt Axelsson, the exercise commander.

This year’s command post exercise is a rehearsal for, and an important component in, the coming Viking 18 exercise next year.

— There has to be a concept that works no matter how many participants we take, so it’s important that everything – infrastructure, technology, food, lodging, etc – works properly, he continued.

The exercise is a joint venture between the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence University, as well as other civilian agencies; Sweden’s Command and Control Regiment has the responsibility for planning the exercise.

The value of exercise to Sweden

— It’s important for us to have the capability to plan and conduct a large exercise ourselves, if we are to cope with important situations that could arise. If we couldn’t do it, I doubt we could manage real operations – they fit together. As far as possible we will try to achieve that capability, and this sort of command post exercise gets us as close as possible to the real thing, says Brigadier Bengt Axelsson.

Many nations with experienced officers and students are gathered here; many with experience from NATO-led operations, and others with useful language skills. One particularly valuable co-operation is that between Sweden and Finland; two operational units, the Swedish-Finnish Naval Task Group and the Amphibious Task Group, are represented here.

— We have high hopes, and naturally we will live up to the exercise aims. I want everyone who has come here to develop and learn; and I expect that many new personal and professional contacts, as well as a mutually enjoyable time, will result from our time together”, concluded Brigadier Bengt Axelsson.