STAVANGER, Norway – NATO Joint Warfare Centre’s (JWC) wargame design capability celebrated its Full Operational Capability (FOC) status on January 31, 2022 in a ceremony here, following an intense Initial Operational Capability (IOC) period.
“In August 2019, the JWC started the journey of creating a wargame design capability to offer a flexible and agile training and education tool to the Alliance,” said Major General Piotr Malinowski, Commander JWC.
“Declaring internal Full Operational Capability today does not mean that we will stop developing this capability. We are tightly integrated into the longer term effort to define and deliver a formal wargaming capability package to NATO through Supreme Allied Commander Transformation’s (SACT) Warfare Development Agenda.”
Major General Malinowski underlined that the JWC’s wargame design capability was fully in line with the NATO 2030 initiative, which ensures that the Alliance “remains ready today to face tomorrow’s challenges”.
“In view of multiple threats and challenges in our security environment, the JWC’s ability to offer flexible training and education options, such as wargaming, comes at the best possible time,” the Commander added.
The planning for IOC began in early 2020 with familiarization of wargaming processes, training a core team on the basics of wargaming, and developing the JWC’s first-ever Standing Operating Instruction (SOI) in wargame design.
During this period, there were multiple workshops and training events, mostly virtual, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The JWC also hired the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School’s mobile training team to deliver two separate courses to the JWC staff in October 2020.
The Centre achieved IOC status in wargame design in February 2021 following a pilot wargame with the Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence (CIMIC CoE), focusing on the impact of operational level civil-military interaction (CMI) on national resilience.
“The execution saw participation from 23 organizations across 12 NATO Nations, and included players from NATO HQ, the NATO Command Structure, the CIMIC CoE, industry, a NATO national joint headquarters, and a NATO Nation’s centre for security,” said Major Melissa Sawyer, the JWC’s Wargaming Branch Head.
“Since IOC, the JWC created a five-person Wargaming Branch and a 50-person wargame design-trained cadre. We also documented lessons learned, established a robust partnership with other wargaming centres, and published our wargame process Standing Operating Procedure. Almost every single member of the JWC played a role in getting this capability to FOC; it was truly a team effort!”
Sawyer continued: “I am particularly grateful for the brilliance of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kieser, Mr Ronald Lohse, Lieutenant Colonel Piotr Puchala, Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Madsen, and Lieutenant Commander Sarah Davies, who were the true trailblazers of this capability in late 2019.”
Moving forward, Sawyer explained that the JWC would focus on accelerating Alliance learning, reducing exercise complexity, and developing concepts using wargames.
“Today’s internal declaration of Full Operational Capability means we are ready to design, develop, and deliver four 40-player wargames each year to the Alliance,” she said.
“With today’s signature of the Wargaming SOP, the JWC has now reached Full Operational Capability to deliver up to four large wargames per year."
Major General Piotr Malinowski, Commander Joint Warfare Centre
The JWC’s Wargame Process Standing Operating Procedure Signing Ceremony
Brigadier General Douglas K. Clark, the Centre’s Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, signed the JWC's Wargame Process Standing Operating Procedure (SOP), marking another milestone in the rich history of the organization.
Named “SOP 801”, the document describes the scope of the JWC’s wargames and how the Centre designs, develops, and delivers wargames.
It is a living document and will be updated occasionally to reflect the latest and greatest in wargaming techniques.
“Having our wargaming process written down is critical to the capability’s continuity and provides a jump start to other Alliance wargaming teams. When military members rotate through the JWC they now have a written foundation of knowledge they can read to quickly get up to speed,” Sawyer explained.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Major General Piotr Malinowski expressed his appreciation of the JWC’s wargaming cadre on achieving the Full Operational Capability for wargame design.
“With today’s signature of the Wargaming SOP, the JWC has now reached Full Operational Capability to deliver up to four large wargames per year. Congratulations to the team, and thank you for your past, present, and future efforts to make NATO better. We are excited to offer this capability to the Alliance’s organizations, as well as to the Nations,” the Commander said.
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