National and NATO senior amphibious and maritime leaders conducted a command and control (C2) wargame from 19 to 21 June 2018 at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) in Stavanger, Norway.
Under the auspice of the Amphibious Leaders Expeditionary Symposium (ALES), the scenario-based tabletop wargame aimed at improving the C2 effectiveness and efficiency of multinational maritime and amphibious forces in support of NATO.
The wargame was facilitated by U.S. Marine Corps Major General Russell A. C. Sanborn, the Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa (MARFOREUR/AF), the leading command behind the ALES initiative.
The wargame in Stavanger is the fourth iteration of ALES, which started two years ago in Stuttgart, Germany, home to MARFOREUR/AF Headquarters, as a forum for senior amphibious leaders to discuss key aspects of multinational amphibious operations.
The previous iterations of ALES took place in Italy (NATO Joint Force Command Naples) and the United Kingdom (Allied Maritime Command Northwood), respectively. Topics discussed primarily included: amphibious interoperability, collective defence and vast Major Joint Operations concept, NATO readiness, and the amphibious task force-level C2 during large-scale amphibious operations.
The goal was to set the chart for the future amphibious operations, with a focus on ever-increasing conventional maritime threats facing the NATO Alliance.
Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC
“It is a great pleasure to host the amphibious wargame at the Joint Warfare Centre,” said Polish Army Major General Andrzej Reudowicz, Commander JWC, during his opening remarks. “NATO has increased its focus on the maritime domain. With this event, we also welcome Rear Admiral John Skillman, JWC’s former Deputy Commander, who is participating the wargame in his current position as Commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group 2.”
Major General Reudowicz then explained that the Joint Warfare Centre was established to deliver and continuously improve training for NATO’s joint, operational-level headquarters, and to support doctrine development, experimentation and lessons learned, ensuring that Transformational outputs were integrated into collective training events.
Major General Reudowicz also underlined the Joint Warfare Centre’s unique role in creating, maintaining and developing NATO’s synthetic training scenarios.
“Our overall output is tied to SACEUR’s Enduring Priorities and SACT’s Focus Areas, therefore, the ALES 2018 Wargame is very beneficial to the JWC as well as to NATO, and, in our view of it, there is indeed no better place than the Joint Warfare Centre to execute it.”
In his address to the participants, Major General Sanborn said the complexity of the maritime and amphibious challenges and threats called for new training solutions and dynamic approaches tailored to address them.
“This is what the wargame is all about," he said. "Bringing together some great minds, making some recommendations to NATO, and developing campaigns so that we can actually exercise this.”
Major General Sanborn added that ALES successfully gathered for the past two years a lot of valuable insights and inputs from the participants, within a partnership framework, which had a significant impact on Allied Maritime Command’s (MARCOM) future direction and focus. They were also used as a basis for NATO’s decision to establish a new Joint Force Command in Norfolk to secure sea lines of communications.
Major General Sanborn also announced that the upcoming iterations of ALES would be led by MARCOM as a combined NATO effort.
U.S. Army General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), in a video message recorded specifically for the wargame, thanked the Joint Warfare Centre for hosting the event and pointed out that the amphibious and maritime forces provided the NATO Alliance with unique capabilities in terms of operational flexibility, scalability, and rapid response.
“This forum [ALES] positively influences NATO’s ability to employ and exercise its exceptional amphibious capabilities,” SACEUR said.
Improving the core competencies of the amphibious C2 construct in support of NATO’s warfighting effectiveness will be the main effort of the wargame in Stavanger.
A unique element to the wargame is the full incorporation of its outputs into future NATO exercises to build capabilities together. “We are NATO” is, therefore, also the motto guiding the wargame, highlighting its progressive direction and focus.
The end state, Major General Sanborn said, was to transform NATO amphibious C2, and begin an exercise campaign in the future.
During the course of the wargame, there will be video and photo coverage, which can be found on our website and social media page as well as on MARFOREUR/AF and NATO social media pages.
Pictures from 2018 ALES Wargame "Command and Control of Multinational Amphibious Operations in Support of NATO"
Major General Russell A. C. Sanborn, Commander MARFOREUR/AF
Rear Admiral John Skillman, former JWC Deputy Commander, now the Commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group 2
For more pictures visit JWC's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NATO.JWC