New Research Division Publication -
Military Exercises: Political Messaging and Strategic Impact
Forum Paper 26:
"Military Exercises: Political Messaging and Strategic Impact"
Forum Paper 26: "Military Exercises: Political Messaging and Strategic Impact",
by Jeffrey Appleget, Robert T. Davis Ii, Peter Dombrowski, Ilay A. D. Ferrier Ryan W. French, John Gill, Beatrice Heuser, Tormod Heier, Guillaume Lasconjarias, Jeffrey A. Larsen, General Denis Mercier, Jeffrey E. Kline, Johan Norberg, Spyridon Plakoudas, Diego A. Ruiz Palmer, Dr. Erwin A. Schmidl, Olivier Schmitt, James Sheahan, James W. Wirtz, Amr Yossef and Christopher D. Yung.
Foreword by General Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
Edited by Beatrice Heuser, Tormod Heier and Guillaume Lasconjarias
Last September, NATO expressed its concern regarding the Russian military exercise Zapad 17, which took place along the borders of the Baltic states. This statement underlined that military exercises are a very particular animal: at once a way to rehearse real war and to deter or prevent it – or, alternatively, to prepare for it. At every level, from the tactical to the strategic, and from small fighting formations to staffs and multinational HQs, exercises serve a range of purposes, with the aim of improving performance and harmonizing training and procedures. They are thus an indispensable training tool for any military, as well as an important instrument of deterrence and assurance. While deterrent measures can rarely be proved to have had the intended effect, it has arguably often been the case that exercises have bolstered deterrence by signalling commitment, competence and capability.
Of course, military exercises can also be a prelude to actual war, and history recalls many instances of real campaigns hidden behind them: this makes military exercises ambiguous in nature, contributing in some cases to a potential escalation rather than enhancing stability. This is why the design, planning and conduct of exercises have to take into account a wide range of military and non-military factors, and balance training requirements with wider security policy concerns.
Based on several workshops bringing together practitioners and academics, this book aims at shedding light on a topic that is little studied , even though everybody agrees on the role and usefulness of exercises. Illustrating not only their purely military role, but also their political and strategic impact, this Forum Paper is offered as a vade mecum both for exercise planners and for policy-makers.
Dr Guillaume Lasconjarias, NDC Research Division,
on behalf of the editing team