U.S., Philippines participate in command post exercise
May 13, 2003
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — Using a fictitious country and ethnic groups, U.S and Philippine military strategists planned and executed a successful peacekeeping mission in a matter of days during a command post exercise at Balikatan 2003.
The exercise, done with the aid of mathematical equations, reams of experience and computer programs, tested the skills of strategists from the United States, Philippines and several other Asian nations.
It was completed in a hotel room — without a tent, weapon or real enemy.
“It’s trying to replicate a headquarters,” said Maj. B.J. Bailey, a Balikatan organizer and Australian Army exchange officer working with Pacific Command. “Everything about it was fabricated.”
This particular incident involved U.S., Philippine and other peacekeepers intervening in a conventional, economic-based war on a small Pacific island between the made-up Musoria and Kamaria peoples. They separated the groups and created a safety buffer, all while preventing any peacekeeping casualties.
The computerized mission is a demonstration of modern battle planning. In the past, military strategists planned the course of action on field maps in dim tents.
“In those days, you would use your gut feeling,” Bailey said.
Today, mathematical algorithms and data from years of real-life combat experience provide more empirical plans and outcomes, although, Bailey adds, “You still use common sense.”
Participants first spent time in classrooms and workshops learning battle analysis and strategy and other skills used in the exercise. That became the foundation for the CPX.
The results were then used to shape plans, creating a dynamic model.
Any obstacles, like encountering an enemy cell or a mass grave, would influence decisions, as in real-world missions.
Bailey said the exercise could only go so far without some real-world activity. Command post exercises in other countries include troops in the field testing the operations, he said.
Organizers are hoping to include field practice in next year’s Balikatan, which Bailey and others began planning as soon as the 2003 exercise ended.
The CPX was small, but it did help participants learn each other’s skills.
Mongolia, Bangladesh and Thailand also participated, bringing unique experiences from their histories, such as managing typhoons or political instability.
“Other countries bring their areas of expertise,” Bailey said. “It adds that additional dimension. The depth of the experience is greater.”
The exercise also taught the participants how to work together in the event of a real crisis in the region, he said.