Peace Support Operation Cooperation Course successfully integrated to Viking 18

Defence Forces International Centre FINCENT 26.4.2018 19.40
Press release

FINCENT has run numerous pilots this spring and is proud to say that they have all been successful. Namely organizing and conducting a site Finland of the Viking 18 exercise for the first time gave FINCENT the opportunity to integrate its PSOCC course as an important part of the international exercise.

Site Finland of the Viking 18 exercise

The Swedish Armed Forces together with the Folke Bernadotte Academy have developed a computer-assisted training platform -the Viking 18 Exercise - that prepares civilians, military and police together for deployment to a peace and crisis management operations. The exercise is multinational, multifunctional and multidimensional, with an emphasis on realism and current operational concepts. Finland has taken part in the exercise many times but now hosted a site for the first time.

Site in Finland was located at the National Defence University and conducted by FINCENT in Santahamina. The 170 participants represented seven nationalities: Austria, Georgia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. About 90 persons were in the actually game where military officers were manning the First Multi-National Brigade and the civilians, together with the police, the United Nations’ Regional Offices (UNRO). The other participants were role players, mentors, observers, instructors and other facilitator who enabled the staging of the game.

"The Viking 18 Exercise is very large bringing 2,500 people in the same scenario in six countries around the world, and we could not arrange an exercise like that by ourselves in Finland. Viking 18 is very well planned, and reflects realistically the challenges faced in real operations," Site Director LTC Hannu Mattinen from FINCENT comments. Participating in an international exercise like Viking 18 not only gives participants the opportunity to learn how to operate in a multinational operation, and to develop their communication and cooperations skills, but also creates important networks that can be useful in the future. Hosting a site in Finland enabled larger audience to join and benefit Viking 18.

"International cooperation and peace operations will be part of our duties working as officers, so what I have learned during this exercise will certainly be useful in the future," a student of the Senior Staff Officer Course no. 69, Captain M. Voutilainen, says. The whole exercise audience had an excellent team spirit. "It was surprisingly easy to find a common way to work together and to solve issues," says Major F. Duposson from Switzerland, who acted as the Deputy Director of the Tactical Operations Centre. "I really enjoyed the Finnish hospitality and the good facilities at FINCENT. In the evenings after duties we were introduced to some Finnish habits like having a sauna, and officers’ traditions," Duposson continues.

Integrating PSOCC course to Viking 18 exercise

The Peace Support Operation Cooperation Course (PSOCC) is a generic course dealing with human interaction, cooperation between actors in the theatre and liaison between parties in a complex, multidimensional and multicultural Peace Support Operation environment at a tactical level. The course is intended for civilian, police and military students. Viking 18 has a similar set up - the so-called Bogaland scenario.

The PSOCC was conducted in three parts, of which the last two parts were merged with the international Viking 18 exercise. The second part included practicing the use of the training application that was used in the exercise, and the third part integrated PSOCC participants with Viking 18 practicing liaising and human interaction skills.

The course participants were deployed into the exercise organization as civilian, police and military component members of the exercise mission. The experience of being part of Viking 18 exercise gave the participants a more realistic feel than the original PSOCC course because the exercise was conducted in a wider, existing multi-national exercise organization, the First Multi-National Brigade of Bogaland Force. The exercise and the course share a lot of similar learning objectives.

During Viking 18, civilian and police students were manning UN Gotland Regional Office’s Humanitarian and Political office posts. Police students built up an office under the command of the acting regional police commissioner. Military students were deployed in the Regional Office (RO) as Gotland Liaison Team members from the NATO-led Bogaland Force (BFOR). The course participants also established a Joint Situation Center (JSC) at the Regional Office’s Headquarters (RO HQ) to maintain a common operational picture and situation awareness of RO HQ.

The civilian, military and police students were working in unified teams called Joint Protection Teams (JPT). The JPT concept means a mix of civilian, police, and military capabilities in the mission under a unified leadership with priority tasks. Four teams of military participants also joined in civil-military cooperation (G9) in NATO brigade staff duties. These teams were rotated every second day. Hence, the military participants also got guidance on NATO operational planning processes and G9 contributions to that process.

"Doing things for the first time requires extensive planning and cooperation. Unexpected events might suddenly come up and you need to solve them smoothly. Thanks to good cooperation, and the experienced instructors and mentors of this course, I am pleased to say that the result is satisfying," says Course Director Elene Ojala.

Course Director Elena Ojala and Chief Instructor Jari Piira

Feedback from a course participant

Mia Korhonen, one of the PSOCC participants, works as a police liaison officer in the United Nations Headquarters’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Integrated Operations Team (IOT) for South Sudan. In New York her responsibilities include liaising and coordinating the operational work in the mission’s police component and in Police Division in HQ with the political field.

"The PSOCC has provided very good insight to the liaison and coordination tasks jointly with military and civilian components, and I feel that the course complements my understanding and knowledge of joint responsibilities," Korhonen explains. Korhonen especially likes the fact that the course really encourages all the experts from different components to work together, and explains how the joint effort can enhance implementing the mission’s mandate. "I am pleased to notice that the instructors and course managers are very experienced and have a deep knowledge of liaising," Korhonen says. Korhonen feels that the course combined theory and practical exercises well.

"The fact that this PSOCC course is integrated into the Viking 18 exercise is extremely useful as it provides a good opportunity to put learned skills into practice," Korhonen continues. "All in all, I can say that I am satisfied with the course and would recommend it to all experts across military, police and civilian components who want to improve their cooperation skills. Plus, with great colleagues and with super nice course leaders, the course is fun for real!" Korhonen enthuses.