By Cristiana Era


Brilliant Ledger 2017 is the last of the military NATO-driven exercises testing and validating commands’ capabilities. Based on a tailored international scenario reproducing fictitious States on world map, this type of exercise is the tangible outcome of the efforts by a number of units from all the armed forces and, in some instances, it entails foreign components’ contribution. More than 1,000 military have been involved in the Brilliant Ledger exercise aimed at validating the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps – Italy (NRDC-ITA) as a Land Component Command for the NATO Response Force (NRF) 18 land package which included the “Ariete” Brigade as Very High Readiness Joint task Force (Land) element of the package.


Brilliant Ledger was set in the NATO-drafted scenario of Sorotan region, a made-up geo-political setting in which major players are imaginary States whose difficult relationships are the cause of an ongoing crisis requiring the intervention of the international community. As in real life, military players act according to the situation on the ground, in this case as described in country books that explain in details the States’ political, economic, social, cultural and geographical framework. State and non-State actors are part of the whole picture and the training audience (TA), that is the command that needs to be validated, is forced to deal with a significant number of issues as a result of players’ interaction among them or with the deployed force. Thus, local population, political institutions, GOs and NGOs, as well as media and host nation’s forces, all contribute to create the scenario.


Behind all this there is the ExCon, the Exercise Control, the staff in charge of the coordination and direction of the exercise. In Brilliant Ledger the ExCon was performed by the Ce.Si.Va team. Ce.Si.Va stands for Center for Simulation and Validation and is one of the hubs of excellence of the Italian Army (currently led by Maj. Gen. Maurizio Boni), thanks to which many commanders, staff and units at every level are tested, trained and validated. With the cooperation of additional personnel (“augmentees”) from other units (CIMIC, PSYOPS, etc.) and from other countries (mostly from NATO members), Ce.Si.Va managed the smooth running of the operation, checking the respect of the scenario by the TA and its responsiveness to the events and incidents injected on a daily basis. To this purpose the MEL/MIL (Main Event List/Main Incident List) and the Scenario sections played a pivotal role inside the ExCon. What did they do? They created incidents and events tailored on the scenario, in order to test the training audience capability to promptly respond. Thus, for example, the White Cell inside the ExCon (which plays the role of all non-military actors) could be activated in order to produce a media campaign against/in favor of the international forces (represented by the TA), to arrange a series of events including requests of meetings by local authorities with the force Commander, or simply by introducing requests for intervention, for logistic or medical support in case of incidents, etc. Clearly, the kinetic actions are also taking place, with inputs determined by the scenario manager, who handled the opposition forces.


As it can be inferred, the whole picture is extremely complex. These exercises need to be grounded on credible and extremely punctual scenarios, which in many instances are NATO ready-made and eventually a part of them is rearranged according to the training objectives. The staff who works on the planning, the organization and the implementation of the exercise need to be highly qualified, and this is the main raison d’être of Ce.Si.Va that for Brilliant Ledger 2017 could count also on the support of foreign civilian experts and on other professionals from the Selected Reserve of the Italian Army. Just to give an idea on the extent of the effort, 144 specialists provided by 19 Italian, 14 allied headquarters and units from 15 NATO Nations, formed the multinational ExCon team.  The importance of the role of those who are in charge of organizing and directing the training is obvious: in the contemporary international framework, readiness and responsiveness to different challenges emerging in area of operations are crucial to the achievement of the mission goals.  And, by consequence, they are crucial to the enhancement of global security as a whole. This is why hubs like Ce.Si.Va are a backbone of a resilient, professional and future-oriented armed forces.

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