NATO's operational planning exercises Steadfast Pyramid 2021 and Steadfast Pinnacle 2021, also known as STPYPI21, gathered approximately 50 commanders and senior staff officers from more than 20 NATO member states, as well as partner nations Finland and Sweden in Riga, Latvia. The exercises were conducted from 6 to 17 September 2021 at the Joint Headquarters of the Latvian National Armed Forces, where the host nation provided a superb venue and support, allowing for smooth execution of both events. NATO has conducted the Steadfast Pyramid / Steadfast Pinnacle exercise series for the past 26 years.

Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle are designed to enhance the decision-making skills of NATO senior staff officers and NATO commanders in the planning process and conducting joint operations. The exercises provide an opportunity for increased understanding of the context and relationships to the comprehensive approach in a collective defence situation, as well as interacting with relevant non-NATO organisations during planning activities.

The first part of the joint exercise, Steadfast Pyramid, was specifically designed for senior staff officers who will support commanders during NATO operational planning and conducting joint operations. The second part of the joint exercise, Steadfast Pinnacle, focused on commanders who have been selected to assume command within the NATO Command Structure and the NATO Force Structure.

“Steadfast Pyramid and Pinnacle 21 exercises, under DSACEUR’s (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe) directions and guidance, focused on both developing participants’ knowledge, skills and abilities, and implementing them into planning and execution of operations in complex environments, referring to current and possible future NATO challenges,” said Major General Piotr Malinowski, the Commander of the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) and concurrently Officer Conducting the Exercise. He also emphasized: “Exercise participants gained extensive knowledge in the form of operational science.”

For nearly two years, exercise planners and experts from JFTC in Bydgoszcz, Poland, have been working, with support from DSACEUR, General Tim Radford, Officer Scheduling the Exercise, and his team from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, as well as with the Host Nation Latvia, and the experienced exercise Senior Mentor, Admiral (Ret.) Mark Ferguson, to provide realistic scenario based training, an engaging curriculum and priceless networking opportunities within NATO. JFTC took the lead for conducting the exercises for the third time in its history.

STPYPI21 allowed participants to increase their knowledge of challenges in various areas, including hybrid warfare, strategic communications, space and cyberspace operations. Each week, the teams spent time learning from the Senior Mentor accompanied by General (Ret.) John Nicholson, and from numerous subject matter experts.

Participants highlighted the importance of covering several critical topics, including the comprehensive approach to collective defence, operational planning and the interrelation of the strategic and operational levels. “The exercise provided a good opportunity for better understanding of different Allies’ perspectives,” highlighted Brigadier General Sinan Küçük (TUR A), Assistant Chief of Staff (J2) from the Joint Force Command Naples, who took part in Exercise Steadfast Pyramid 2021. Other participants also emphasized the importance of network building and learning from each other as a key aspect of the exercise.


Participants of Exercise Steadfast Pinnacle 2021 with General Tim Radford, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš, Latvian Chief of Defense, and Major General Piotr Malinowski, JFTC Commander
Photo: Courtesy of Latvian MOD