STAVANGER, Norway – Exercise STEADFAST JACKAL 2021 (STJA21) Crisis Response Planning (CRP), which took place from March 15 to 26, was enabled by the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC). This operational level exercise is part of a five year series of exercises encompassing NATO’s 360-degree approach to operations and training.

In addition to the CRP, this exercise planning phase also included the support of the Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) of the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy (NRDC-ITA) based at Solbiate Olona, Italy. The CRP began the planning process of delivering the Concept of Operations (CONOPS), which will be the fundamental document for the execution phase of STJA21.

The OLRT simulated the deployment of an NRDC-ITA team conducting reconnaissance and engagement with authorities of the nations to which NATO will deploy, based on the training scenario created by the JWC.

Personalities within these authorities were played by the JWC-led Grey Cell. Simply put, the Grey Cell replicates the complex military and civil aspects of the international, political, and security environments, providing a high degree of realism during this training phase. The immediate outputs of the OLRT are essential in starting the planning process in a timely manner.

Additionally, the Exercise Control (EXCON) Coordination Cell at the JWC included a Higher Control (HICON) organization representing the strategic-level planning for the exercise.  To be able to conduct both the CRP and OLRT activities simultaneously – all within a COVID-19 environment – the JWC adapted the way in which it ran these events from previous exercises.

In this framework, the Centre deployed three EXCON forward teams to three locations (Solbiate Olona, Lyon, and Holzdorf).

In return, the JWC welcomed three Italian Liaison Officers from NRDC-ITA, who facilitated interactions with the OLRT remotely engaging from Solbiate Olona, and the JWC coordinated Grey Cell, based here in Stavanger, Norway.


A key output of the simulated OLRT deployment is for NRDC-ITA military and civilian personnel to develop an Operational Plan (OPLAN), which details the missions and tasks NRDC-ITA may undertake in the fictitious theatre of operations, based on the non-Article 5 training scenario developed by JWC.

Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Simon Nelson-Kirby said: “The quality and realism provided by JWC’s Grey Cell is the key in engaging the training audience and achieving ‘buy-in’. The more believable our role players are, the more the training audience will immerse themselves in the whole experience. This focus on quality and realism is what defines JWC’s excellence.”

Directed by the Joint Warfare Centre, Exercise STEADFAST JACKAL 2021 will contribute to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, demonstrating the ability to conduct a non-Article 5 small joint operation, primarily in the land and cyber domains.

The JWC’s excellence will be a corner stone in the conduct of the rest of STJA21, and all other exercises, in these testing times.