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Crisis management and conflict resolution simulation: “Most likely and most dangerous” (II)


Four students of International Relations at IE University have been invited to participate in a crisis management and armed conflict simulation, organized by the The Higher Staff College of The Armed Forces (ESFAS) of Spain. During this simulation more than 250 people were involved in a Computer Assisted Exercise (CAX) that simulates joint, combined, and coalition civil-military operations at the operational level.

Following a demanding selection process IE School of International Relations and the The Higher Staff College of The Armed Forces invited Ana Barrenechea, Marco Pastor, Pilar Arenas and Thitivut Ekphaisansup to participate in the computer-based simulation that is taking place in Madrid from May 21st to May 28th.

In this new series of blog posts IEU students will share their experience during the simulation!

The situation on the continent of Atlantis has taken a turn for the worse, as heightening tension between the states of KYMRIC and OGHAM leads to greater political mistrust and risk of physical conflict. Over the past few days, various elements have been introduced into the CAX Simulation by the DIREX to reflect the geopolitical realities which dictate and constrain the behavior of states and their military. These elements are comprehensive because they add multiple dimensions to the exercise – economic, social and political. For instance, the fictional state of KYMRIC controls territories that are contested by the Coalition forces on two fronts. In the northern province of Manghalour, there is a struggle between OGIVAL and KYMRIC to control vast reserves of oil and gas, while on its southern frontier, ethnic divide and control for a crucial waterway (Celtic Strait) preoccupies KYMRIC’s geopolitical ambitions with OGHAM. This highlights the complexity of various factors that must be accounted when the military makes operational decisions.

We also learnt that the military has various models of strategic thinking and decision making, and I would like to share one of them. In many instances, Operational Intelligence in association with the Assessment team conducts a prognosis of the situation at hand and classify events into two distinct categories: Most Likely and Most Dangerous. On the one hand are events with the highest probability of happening, while on the other, are event that could have grave consequences for the military, should they manifest. It is not always easy to predict the circumstances under which these events occur, and often times, they can take us by surprise. For instance, today there had been a communication delay of only 15 minutes between the strategic and the operational level. Nevertheless, within those 15 minutes two warships from opposing camps attacked one another, constituting as an act of war. The military must always be prepared for such events, and this is why various decision making tools are resourceful.

As students of International Relations, taking part in this simulation has exposed us to the practical side of what is taught in the classroom. The political and legal complexities in military operations are very challenging, and over the coming days we will see how the event unfolds.