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IEU students of International Relations Participate in a crisis management and conflict resolution simulation organized by the The Higher Staff College Of The Spanish Armed Forces

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 four of us arrived at the beautiful historical building where the simulation is run at 8:15am sharp on Thursday 21st. We received our badges amidst a crowd of military personnel. You would expect such a multitude of people dressed in formal military attire to be rather intimidating, but upon conversing with the various students, teachers and military professionals throughout the morning we became aware of the friendly yet official nature of the environment we found ourselves in. As the four of us were escorted into the building, we were able to appreciate the wide variety of military artifacts and mementos of the Spanish army’s operations that lined the walls of this commemorated institution.

Upon arrival, we witnessed a wave of members of the Mexican army who were attending a conference. The sight made all of us feel the authenticity of the event, as if we were becoming part of history! Being surrounded by so many military scholars and soldiers of all ranks drew us further into the military atmosphere and whet our appetite for the CAX simulation that was to begin. Before the briefing of the simulation on the Atlantis case of International Conflict, we met with the founding Dean of IE School of International Relations, Dr. Arantza de Areilza and received a few encouraging words from the main architect in the introduction of the International Relations Master and Bachelor programs at IE.

We were then escorted through the grand hallways of the building to the main conference room where we were introduced to the coordinators of the CAX simulation, the professors involved in its development and the military scholars and students of the Spanish School of Foreign Service that would participate in the event. After being welcomed we were given a comprehensive breakdown of the case of “Atlantis” – a fictional continent near the Iberian Peninsula in which the belligerent state of Kymric abuses the rights of the Celtic minorities that are culturally similar to its neighbor Ogham. Ogham is a belligerent state that attempts to annex the Celtic region and gain access to the Atlantic Ocean by acquiring said territory, all behind the façade of “protecting their brothers.” This tense situation of international turmoil founded upon territorial disputes and ethnic struggles was to be re-enacted through the Computer Assisted Exercise is a Synthetic Exercise where electronic means are used to simulate scenarios, processes and procedures of all kinds and levels of operations, in complex environments. We were warned that the imminent military conflict that was underway between Military Alliances “Alliance” (comprised mainly of the fictional nations of Kymric and Gaelic) and “Coalition” (Ogham and Ogival) would require the intervention of the United Nations.

To replicate the international crisis that would unfold into a military conflict we were divided into different camps and assigned to be Political and Legal Advisors. Ana Barrenechea was to serve as Political Advisor for “Alliance”, Marco Pastor as Legal Advisor for “Alliance”, Thitivut Ekphaisansup as Political Advisor for “Coalition” and Pilar Arenas as Legal Advisor for “Coalition”. Once the extensive briefing was over, we were each assigned supervisors to provide mentorship for the duration of the simulation. Our mentors, Fran and David, have been really helpful and inspiring throughout the process. They were exceptional! The military personnel showed us around the building and then led us to our respective “Headquarters” where we were divided by camps and began to prepare for the simulation by reading through the archives provided to us by the organizers.

It had been an intense day, but we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! The opportunity of being exposed to The Joint Theater Level Simulator used by most NATO nations to simulate joint, combined, and coalition civil-military operations at the operational level was truly unique. On Friday 22nd legal advisors of both Alliance and Coalition gave their presentation on the restrictions of military personnel in the context of the Atlantis conflict by disclosing the relevant ROEs (Rules of Engagement). All participants continued to familiarize themselves with the Joint Forces’ military procedure and prepare for the war that was to break out on Monday morning in Atlantis.

Ana, Pilar, Marco and Vinny have a week of conflict management and resolution ahead of them – check out the next IR blog post on the CAX simulation to see how the conflict in Atlantis will unfold!