“Our intention is not to evaluate the performance of individual participants but rather the exercise concept itself. If we take civil-military teamwork, which is one of the training objectives, it is important that the trainees should be given the opportunity to meet in civil and military contexts before actually working together. We do not check whether this does in fact happen but only whether the exercise concept permits it,” says Lennart Bengtsson, Director of EXEVAL.
EXEVAL consists of some thirty personnel from different countries. One or two of these are so-called site evaluators who focus on the exercise objectives and report back directly to the EXEVAL group in Kungsängen.
“We have developed four methods of getting the data we need. This means that we do not search for information in an unplanned way but are able to approach the task in a way that is structured and proactive,” says Lennart Bengtsson.
These guidelines and questions cover such areas as the role of those directing the gaming, the support provided by the monitors, the injects and more specific areas such as the preparatory computer course, logistics or the civil-military dimension. Finally the evaluation team put together a questionnaire which the site evaluators distribute to certain hand-picked individuals involved in the exercise. These are subsequently gone through separately with the individuals concerned.
“The most important question is whether, in their experience, the exercise has proved to be a ‘learning event’. The exercise is thus not intended to be a test of what they can already do, but rather an experience from which they can learn something new and so develop their own professional abilities,” says Lennart Bengtsson.
Site evaluators should not, however, be confused with the monitors who also move about among the trainees and check whether, for example, the training objectives are being met. These monitors report back directly to the Joint Exercise Centre which then corrects the gaming with new injects. The evaluators work on a longer term basis, looking towards the next exercise and how the exercise concept might be developed further in the intervening period.
“The greatest change since VIKING 05 is that we have a civil element which is being exercised this time. This can, for example, lead to increased cooperation with the UN department of peacekeeping operations. Previously the civil organisations played only towards the trainees, they were not actually there with them. This is, of course, an enormous improvement. If one talks to participants from abroad, they say that the exercise is unique in Europe specifically because of this cooperation between the civil and military sides,” says Thomas Möller, Deputy Director of EXEVAL.
And he already has ideas for improvements to incorporate in the next VIKING.
“One aspect that can be developed is that of site evaluator for the various sites abroad. Today he or she is a native of the country concerned, for example it is an Irish national who acts as evaluator for the Irish site, a Finn for the Finnish site and so on. The sensible thing should, I think, be to change things round so that the site evaluator comes from another participating country. Otherwise there is a twofold risk of undue loyalty, partly to the evaluation group but also to the particular site concerned.”
A final evaluation, the so-called Final Exercise Report, will be submitted not later than 90 days after the end of the exercise. EXEVAL is responsible for the greater part of this report and it focuses on what has worked well during the exercise and what could be done differently or improved next time.
Read more about the evaluation of the exercise on the link shown.