The Moral Component to be studied during Aurora 23

In the Russian war against Ukraine, the Ukrainian military forces capacity to resist and warfare capability have surprised an entire world. For the outcome of the fighting, the moral component has proven to be crucial. During the SwAF exercise Aurora 23, the impact of the moral component is to be studied for the first time.

Three soldiers on a hill
Three soldiers on a hill
One of the main objectives of Aurora 23 is to study the morale and morality of the warfare capability. (Stock photograph) Photo: Jesper Moldvik/Swedish Armed Forces
Two civilian women in an office looking at a map
The study is planned and headed by Linnea Lönnberg and Sophie Fredén at the Halmstad Military Academy (MHS H/FMLOPE). Some 30 members of staff, most of whom are active in the Swedish Armed Forces, will conduct field studies during Aurora 23. Photo: Sofia Svensson/Swedish Armed Forces

"Aurora 23 is a unique opportunity for us to study how factors like will, motivation and endurance impact our warfare capability, as the enitre Swedish Armed Forces participate", says Sophie Fredén, head of the exercise study and project manager at the Swedish Armed Forces' leadership and teaching unit at the Military Academy Halmstad. "During the exercise we will be able to do field studies in real time to see how our military doctrine, and the parts about the moral component that are to be the basis of our actions, is used in practice".

Motivation and the will to persevere

What is of specific interest to observe?

"For example to get a better understanding of what it is that makes us persevere and keep our spirits up when the battle is not going our way, or the way we intended it to go", says Linnea Lönnberg, project manager at the Military Academy Halmstad. "Or when we find ourselves in morally and ethically difficult situations, like for example caring for both own and enemy wounded soldiers, with limited resources. It is also interesting to look at decision-making, for example what ethical considerations that must be taken and the logic behind them, and if and how we reflect upon our action and the moral implications during the course of the exercise", says Sophie. "But we will also look at the small things, in how we care and reinforce each other in both good times and bad".

Broad representation on various levels

Who will you study?

"We are some thirty people that will "shadow" units in some 15 different locations", says Linnea. "We will observe what is happening and create better understanding through interviews, when we assess it to be appropriate and possible, without interfering with the chain of events. We will be present in staffs at various levels, in various ground units, on ships at sea, and in a field hospital", says Sophie. "If the units regroup, we will come along. We will see how the units shift tempo between periods of high level and low level activity, and perhaps even boredom. We will also study when the units interact with foreign units, as well as with civilian parts of the total defence".

Aurora 23 is the starting point for long-term development

After Aurora 23, the comprehensive field material will be analysed and presented in a report and hopefully be complemented by seminars and workshops. The intended result is to find a method to be used in exercises to help build and enhance the moral component as part of the warfare capability. Areas of development to initiate research and development in the long term shall also be identified.

"I view Aurora 23 as a starting point in order to build a better understanding of the the moral component and moral aspects in warfare, and how we can build a strong defence together", says Sophie.