The announcement of “ENDEX” – or end of exercise – signified the end of the Combined Joint Staff Exercise (CJSE) 13 in Sweden. With that, the Baltic Defence College contingent, comprised of 73 Directing Staff, Joint Command and General Staff Officer Course Officers and Civil Servants packed up their belongings and started the long trek back to Tartu.
For nearly two weeks comprised of 14 hour work days, BALTDEFCOL participants were confronted with a wide swathe of challenges in a very realistic Crisis Response Operation scenario. Nevertheless, the Officers and Civil Servants – serving as staff officers and advisors in various positions posted throughout Sweden – met the demands head-on. “I thought the scenario was quite challenging,” said Col Jan Erik Mikkelsen. “I was very pleased with the degree of competence exhibited by our Officers and Civil Servants.”
BALTDEFCOL’s footprint represented only a small fraction of the 1400 participant. However, because of the deep knowledge and experience gained from Operations Department’s instruction and in-house exercises, BALTDEFCOL representatives were often chosen ahead of their international colleagues to lead planning teams or explain complex issues at the many command briefings. Wg Cdr (ret) Geoff Yapp explained, “Our people have had a disproportionate effect on this exercise, with key leadership positions filled by our Officers and Civil Servants, and our staff providing the core of experience in the mentor teams and in the exercise evaluation and control. In several cases, our people received ‘field promotions’ when it was obvious they were better qualified than their peers.”
BALTDEFCOL’s intention is to return with an even bigger team in 2014, when the scale and scope of the Swedish exercise increases for VIKING 2014. Depending on the outcome of the Main Planning Conference in June, BALTDEFCOL may even expand its participation with small teams joining the Georgian and Irish Brigade staffs at their home locations. Wherever they are, BALTDEFCOL personnel will continue to benefit from the extended professional and social contact within the Nordic-Baltic realm, as well as from with NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
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