Extraordinary times, extraordinary solutions. As limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic do not allow for conducting regular training events, the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) has just started the first distributed execution of pre-deployment training. Despite the unprecedented situation, future members of NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) will not miss the final preparation for their deployment. Thanks to innovative means implemented by JFTC, they are now getting ready for the mission as planned.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the world deals with everyday activities. Social distancing, that is the key to effectively fight the coronavirus could also put training and exercises conducted by JFTC at risk. This is why the JFTC team spent recent weeks on tailoring a remote, yet complex training that would be crucial to keep the NATO Mission Iraq on the same top level.
“This is a new experience for all of us” – admitted Brigadier General Jozsef Szpisjak, JFTC Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff who is also the Training Director for the event. “The JFTC team, along with technical experts from the ACT Joint Advanced Distance Learning team, worked very hard to make this course happen. We worked through many challenges in a relatively short time and we have created a challenging programme which should engage you for approximately six hours per day.”
The training team faced various challenges. One of them to tailor the programme for approximately 150 participants, who are now taking part in the event personally, in real time, from numerous locations, to include the United States of America, Canada, the whole Europe and Iraq (17 nations altogether). This gives more than dozen time zones. To address this challenge, a time window for academics and virtual meetings with experts had to be chosen very carefully. Additionally, discussion forums for participants are available 24/7 throughout the training.
To achieve the main goal of the pre-deployment training, i.e. providing the NMI Commander with uniformly trained personnel, able to function effectively within a NATO-led mission, the JFTC training team prepared over 50 recorded lessons, lectures, on-line meetings and live chats. They were tailored to let participants better understand the mission, its social and cultural context as well as their particular roles within the allied endeavour. The participants will also have a chance to get in touch with current members of the mission and experts from Iraq.
“I encourage you to make use of the means of our modern times: make use of the chats or discussion forums, and become familiar with all aspects of your upcoming deployment” – said General Szpisjak stressing that the JFTC team was working hard to provide the best pre-deployment training possible under the current circumstances.
The first JFTC distributed pre-deployment training will last for six days. This pilot event will allow JFTC to thoroughly assess the distributed execution concept and validate it. Lessons identified derived from the course as well as the feedback from the participants and observers from all across NATO will be of extreme value for future increase of the alliances capabilities.