The Main Event List/Main Incident List (MEL/MIL) Incident Development Workshop for Exercise TRIDENT JAGUAR 14 (TRJR 14) took place from 3 to 6 March at JWC’s training facility in Jatta.

Nearly 100 service members and civilians participated in the workshop, which aimed to generate detailed, complex and realistic incidents to be used within the fictitious SKOLKAN training scenario in order to support Exercise TRJR 14.

The event will be followed in April by the MEL/MIL Scripting Conference and STARTEX Validation Workshop, which will finalize the developed incidents prior to the exercise execution and simulation in May.

Royal Air Force Wg Cdr Mark Attrill, TRJR 14 Chief MEL/MIL, said: “The TRIDENT JAGUAR Incident Development Workshop presented us with a number of challenges. The delivery of one scenario and one MEL/MIL to serve, in some cases, significantly different training objectives for multiple Training Audiences (TAs), was certainly the most significant. We were also faced with a pool of external participants who were, by and large, completely new to the MEL/MIL process and their part in developing a storyline to serve a Joint Force Headquarters working largely at the operational level. In spite of these challenges, we have managed to complete an extremely successful exercise design event working in concert with our partners within the collective TAs, the Baltic State representatives and other external supporting agencies.”

The comprehensive SKOLKAN scenario and setting offers TRJR 14 TAs, through the MEL/MIL database, an environment full of challenges primarily at the operational level as well as various long-standing regional issues, including stakeholders with competing interests.

The scenario puts primacy on the information domain and civil-military relations as part of the Joint Task Force Commander’s decision-making process. Examples of simulated incidents include terrorist or cyber-attacks, repeated incursions into territorial waters or general friction and mistrust due to rising levels of threat in the Baltic region, the theatre of operations.

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The TRJR 14 script challenges the TAs on Collective Defence situations

Royal Marines Major General (Ret.) Roger Lane, the Senior OPFOR Advisor and a Senior Mentor for TRJR 14, said: “As OPFOR and trainers, our challenge is to create operational level dilemmas for the Commanders, so that the tensions created by pulling them in different directions results in staff interaction to develop recommendations on which the Commanders can make sound decisions. This helps to train them to manage ambiguity, risk and uncertainty under pressure. We strive to make the arguments finely balanced so that the Commander has to use both art and science in reaching a conclusion and then having to live with the consequences, as in real life. An example might be: ‘Do they pursue a fleeting opportunity but carry additional risk, or do they wait until they have a better correlation of forces, but may be exposed to adverse media and civilian population reactions in doing so?’ Decisions that force them to consider changing their main effort, priorities, resource allocations or deployment of operational reserves, whilst under the gaze of the media – including social media commentary – are the kind of decisions they will make in real life.”

During the workshop planners focused on the exercise training objectives, got the latest scenario updates, and analysed the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and developed incidents to train against a strong Opposing Force (OPFOR). They also engaged in formulating strategies and actions to achieve different training objectives for the two Joint Task Force HQs in a single MEL/MIL script.

Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Colin Macpherson said: “We are testing a new exercise MEL/MIL construct, which focuses on effects-based approach to enable greater collaboration within disciplines such as international organizations (IOs) and non-governmental organizations in-country as well as other military capabilities such as air, land and maritime integration.”

Consequently, this new method of exercise delivery allowed Joint Task Force HQs to exercise within a more complex MEL/MIL script.

Exercise TRJR 14

Exercise TRJR 14 is an operational level command-post exercise (CPX), which aims to train and evaluate NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Spain (NRDC-ESP) and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (SFN) as land and maritime expeditionary Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTF HQs) to plan and conduct Small Joint Operations (SJOs) under direct command of SACEUR. It also aims to exercise NATO Special Operation Forces Headquarters (NSHQ) to deploy and Command and Control (C2) Special Operations Task Groups.

TRJR 14 is a unique exercise, which features many “firsts” including: the first operational level exercise sponsored by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), together with being the first-ever exercise to train multiple Joint Task Force (JTF) headquarters derived from the new deployable NATO Force Structure (NFS).

The exercise also marks a milestone for JWC in being the first exercise that will train two JTF headquarters simultaneously, with land and maritime expeditionary aspects and two OLRTs, under a single Exercise Control (EXCON) organization, scenario and MEL/MIL script.