At the centre of events

An exercise like VIKING 08 covers everything from ethnic and religious violence to the mass movement of refugees, economic collapse and the breakdown of law and order. This entails thousands of inputs, “injects”, for exercise participants to react to. The results are then followed up by the Exercise Director’s monitor’s team.

Vikars Per Österberg and Sten Arve in the VIKING 08 exercise direction team. Photo: Johan Ardefors/FBB

In a large hall in the Life Guards’ Exercise Direction building sit the teams working on the Main Events List and Main Incidents List, MEL/MIL, as they continually produce new inputs to the exercise.
“We now have a total of 277 injects for Land Component Command, LCC, which is one of the staff teams being exercised. And for the first gaming day alone we have 50. We don’t have to activate them all, it is like having a basket of them to draw from,” says Håkan Kjellsson in MEL/MIL.
An inject could, for example, be an air dropped leaflet that has been found and which ties in with a larger incident which is linked in turn to one of the exercise training objectives.

There are also monitors who go round among the exercise participants and report back to the exercise direction team on how the new input has been taken up and dealt with. They also report back on the tempo of the exercise, whether it is too high or too low, and whether there is a need for a new input relating to a particular training objective where things have been quiet.

“The biggest problem with an exercise like this, in order to get it properly rolling, is the random composition of the staff teams. This is primarily because the personnel have not known each other previously and because their individual skills and their experience of working in this kind of environment are so different. At the same time, though, this is exactly the kind of problem that the exercise sets out to address,” says Vikars Per Österberg, a member of the exercise direction team.

The Joint Exercise Centre sychronises 8 gaming teams and 13 staff teams being exercised, which make a total of 21 staff teams being kept synchronised in seven different countries.

“The positive result of all this is that the individual staff members are raised to a higher professional level. It would also be difficult to find a mission which has this degree of complexity and which involves, for example, both UN, EU and NATO elements in the field", says Sten Arve, head of MEL/MIL.