By Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Prescott, US Army
STAVANGER, Norway – NATO Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) hosted its “first-of-a-kind” Senior Mentor Seminar from July 6 to 9, 2021. Over 25 NATO senior leaders, staff officers, and civilians participated in the virtual seminar.
The JWC already maintains an excellent relationship with the NATO Senior Mentor Programme (SMP) and this seminar allowed the Centre to update the participants on some of its achievements, ideas for the future, discuss challenges, and determine the way-ahead for strengthening the existing bonds between both parties, taking the cooperation to a new level.
The SMP is composed of former senior Flag or General Officers recommended by their respective Chiefs of Defence to NATO.
Senior Mentors pass on their extensive military knowledge and invaluable experience to NATO Commanders and their staffs on the conduct of operations, including leadership and staff functionality, and support the JWC’s “One Team” during the entire planning and execution of NATO’s most demanding computer-assisted command post exercises (CAX/CPX).
The Senior Mentors play a special role as a cornerstone in the JWC’s delivery of realistic and challenging exercises.
Although the briefings provided common understanding to all participants, the most valuable aspect of the seminar were the facilitated discussions centring on recurring challenges the JWC and the SMP often see with training audiences during the JWC-directed exercises.
The facilitated discussions enabled the JWC and the SMP to develop ways to mitigate these recurring challenges in future exercises, particularly with joint synchronization, and influencing better command group and headquarters staff synergy.
General (retired) Sir James Everard KCB CBE, NATO’s Lead Senior Mentor, and Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, Commander of the JWC, co-moderated the seminar. This gave both leaders the opportunity to provide opening and closing remarks and ensure the seminar’s goals were achieved.
With General Everard recently taking over as the Lead Senior Mentor, the seminar created a great opportunity to provide his future goals and guidance to the 14 participating Senior Mentors.
Both leaders share a “continuous collaborative approach” vision for the JWC and the SMP to maintain an “early, often, and continuous engagement” with the NATO training audiences.
The JWC and the SMP are two sides of the same coin when it comes to helping the training audiences achieve their exercise objectives.
Altogether, the three-day seminar achieved the goal of increasing the participants’ understanding for what lays ahead in the coming years, allowed the JWC to describe their new initiatives, and fostered solutions to improve training audiences and exercise outcomes.
Both organizations’ continuing to work "hand-in-hand" is a perfect illustration of the JWC’s motto, "Together! We make NATO better!"