After a welcome and introduction from ARRC Chief of Staff, the students heard from the deputy chief of staff for operations, US Brigadier General Ron Clark, who gave them a closer look into operating a three-star NATO headquarters representing 21 nations.
INNSWORTH, UK - As the 24-hour news cycle continues to inform us about the ever-changing world today, no military can forget to think about tomorrow. The NATO Alliance has been thinking about the future since their beginning and as one of their High Readiness Forces (Land), Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, based in Innsworth, UK, is no exception.
As the ARRC continues Exercise Trident Juncture 16 to certify themselves as the NATO Response Force Land Component Command in 2017, they made time to invite 24 students from the University of Exeter’s MA Applied Security Strategy Programme to spend a day with the staff.
"I had a conversation with the then-commander of the ARRC, and said ‘wouldn’t it be an idea to have a relationship between future strategists and people who are dealing with these problems in the real world now?” said Retired Lieutenant General, Professor Sir Paul Newton, professor of security strategy at Exeter. "He very kindly said ‘yes, lets do it,’ and that set up the relationship.”
This is the fourth year students from Exeter have visited the ARRC and this year, after they were introduced to the unit and exercise scenario, they were given briefings on planning, logistics, strategic communication and situational understanding. After a welcome and introduction from ARRC Chief of Staff, British Major General Richard Wardlaw OBE, they heard from the deputy chief of staff for operations, US Brigadier General Ron Clark, who gave them a closer look into operating a three-star NATO headquarters representing 21 nations.
"Forty percent of our headquarters is multinational,” he said. "We’re 21 nations so it helps in regard to perspective and understanding.” "Because when you’re trying to figure out ‘how should we go about solving this military problem?’ you have the perspectives of people who have operational experience from a number of different perspectives, so it really comes in handy.”
"Because we work this way, we operate at what we like to call the speed of trust,” he continued. "Because you build those relationships, you build trust in training, and in garrison that makes you more effective should you be called upon in case of contingency.”
Clark also gave them a preview into the planning process before passing the presentation to British Col. Richard Clements, Assistant Chief of Staff, G5.
"We’re conducting real-world planning in conjunction with the exercise and it really works in a synergistic manner,” said Clark. "What we learn from the real-world planning has a positive influence on our training because we better understand the situations that we may have to fight in, and what we’re learning in training informs our real-world planning because we really want to train the way we will fight.”
The day full of briefings was informative and gave the students some real-world experience to go along with what they learn in the classroom.
"It takes the theory that we talk about in the classroom and in the lecture room and it brings it completely to life with people who are actually dealing with these challenges,” said Newton.
"The making of strategy and the execution of strategy is a constructive debate,” he continued. "Once you’ve got a good answer, because it’s never going to be perfect, you make the decision, and everyone gets behind it and I think the ARRC exemplifies that." The students also found the day enlightening.
"So far it’s great, it’s a very good opportunity to see the structure of a joint headquarters,” said Brandon Chambers, an Exeter student and a major in the Jamaica Defence Force. "I haven’t seen anything like this in reality or in simulation, so it’s very good to see the other side of the coin, understanding the structure, the systems, the people and how it all comes together.”
"It’s wonderful, it’s a good experience and it’s led us to see how true practitioners work in their daily lives and the key elements of the headquarters,” said An Leong, another Exeter student and commander in the Chinese navy. "It’s very helpful for us to understand what we’ve learned in our academic lectures.”
Although the relationship is not exactly normal, Newton appreciates that it’s still going strong, four years later.
"It isn’t normal,” he said. "The generosity of the ARRC, the disruption that this causes, is enormous.”
"I know how much effort that goes into looking after visitors and how it disrupts a very busy battle rhythm,” he continued. "There are people here working long hours with not much sleep and they take their time to engage with our students and I think what that is, is a sign that people in the ARRC understand that if my generation made bad strategic judgments then time invested in this generation in helping them understand the realities of strategy is time well spent.”
Story by HQ ARRC Public Affairs Office