BANDUNG, Indonesia-The following scenario played out by participants of a simulated exercise at Garuda Shield 2010 June 17 in an effort to sharpen U.N. focused skills over one week of intense training. The overall exercise also featured humanitarian projects and tactical training for the countries of Bangladesh, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Nepal.

In a scripted exercise of event-driven scenarios by military and non-military subject matter experts in an operational environment, U.N. representatives had just met with Zapatos, one of the faction leaders causing trouble, in an effort to quell violence in an "affected area" of the Island of Pacifica.

The 18th Brigade comprised of Soldiers from Indonesia and the U.S. has stood by as negotiations take place with the rogue leader by promising to work fairly with him and his rival St. Pierre in an effort to help the indigenous population. Criminal gangs from both factions have been ravaging the island for some time. The factions control most of the roads and extort money from the locals by charging fees for safe passage on local roads. The money in turn is being used to buy more weapons. The 18th has just arrived as relief.

The combined brigade has spent one week on the ground trying to orient itself, with its immediate main task of planning for the disarmament of the factions. Without stability in the region, the U.N. cannot do its job. "The command post exercise is a model of how the Army trains entities," said Steven Schowalter, Senior Controller.

"This benefits both Soldiers from U.S. and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Darat." Schowalter, who has 15 years of experience at the Joint Warfighting Center, U.S. Army, Pacific, and Pacific Command, helped create the simulated exercise program for Garuda Shield in 2007, before it added humanitarian actions and a field training exercise.

"As the first part of our plan, we wanted it on brigade level with three battalions from Indonesia and five battalions from the United States," Schowalter said. "The exercise also provides peacekeeping and stability operations. An example of that would be providing a safe and secure environment for nation building."

Schowalter was joined by Pelle Rosdahl, a U.S. contractor from Sweden, who helped author the script. His six years of peacekeeping experience in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia, as well as the Middle East, Lebanon and Africa, has been integral in planning for the simulated exercise.

"The intent of the exercise was based on requests from the training audience (the brigade)," said Rosdahl who served 27 years in the Swedish Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before shedding his uniform. It is a script that features peacekeeping mandates that touch on working toward peace agreements, security resolutions and humanitarian issues.

"Everything that's relevant in today's operations," said Rosdahl, whose work for the International Community of the Red Cross from 1999 to 2006, adds to his expertise on the training. He also mentors members of the brigade when they fail. "Peacekeeping means relations with people; interacting with people is the key, even if the objective is not the same. They must work in the same space and time. You must also be ready to compromise, to learn about others and to have a better understanding of self for better relations with other countries.

This experience enhances our understanding of the big picture," Rosdahl said. "This training is just a platform. When faced with a real mission, they will find this training helpful." Participants are graded on U.N. focused tasks, which differ somewhat from the rules of engagement for Soldiers who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Indonesians, who have taken the lead in this exercise, have had experience with ongoing U.N. peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and the Congo.

As part of U.N. tasks, the brigade runs checkpoints; clears mines and IEDs; conducts searches; and practices detainment among other security operations. "In this scenario, the brigade has just taken the handoff," Schowalter said. "Its leadership is dealing with planning convoy escorts while dealing with the rogue factions." Schowalter described the disarmament phase. "The brigade will transport the factions to a new location, and then reintegrate its members back into a peaceful society," he said.

Meanwhile, the brigade deals with several turns of events, depending on the Master Scenario Event List. "It's a little like playing chess," said MSEL Manager Jack Androsky, who engineers such events as tanks rolling over cars. Organizers and participants call the process injecting the MSELs. "In situations where tanks run over cars, the players would need to pay reparations, and explain second and third order effects," he said. "And the list goes on: a car accident, MEDEVAC procedures, and moving refugees."

Certification requires that these Soldiers meet U.N. standards within the Theatre Security Cooperation Program, which hones their skills and enables them to assist in peacekeeping missions. The participation of foreign armies ideally provides competencies of command systems and experience, according to Androsky. Not all militaries are organized the same way, and the Indonesians and Americans find themselves continuously trading notes on personnel, intelligence, logistics and planning among other sections.

"The task is not done until the objective is met. We decide those events to complete the objective," Androsky said. "Things like officer engagement and developing subject matter experts can make or break them."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16