Blue Shield International (BSI) was invited to support NATO Exercise Loyal Leda 2020 (LOLE20), a Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation scheduled exercise to train and evaluate the Combat Readiness certification of HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) as a warfighting Corps Headquarters. BSI took part in its capacity as a cultural property protection (CPP) expert (report below), alongside the International Committee of the Red Cross, who advised on humanitarian issues. It was designed and delivered by NATOs Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Poland (where the majority of Exercise Command is located).
The organisation of the event was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the exercise was largely managed remotely, including BSI’s participation. Nonetheless, 1,400 personnel from the Armed Forces of 21 nations participated from 10-19 November 2020. The exercise uses a fictitious setting, exploring an Article 5 (collective defence) scenario.
“Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies. The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.”
One of the major CPP lessons arising from previous NATO exercises in which BSI participated was that nations must teach the protection of cultural heritage as an operations-related task during command and staff training if NATO is to realise its aspiration to develop cultural heritage protection best practice on operations.
Throughout the preparation and implementation of LOLE20, we worked with Exercise Command and with Cadence Consultancy to support the scripting of three CPP-related storylines: a fuel spillage in a natural World Heritage site, a museum evacuation and transport under special protection, and targeting where a high payoff target was situated next to a tentative high value World Heritage church. Each scenario was designed to address specific aspects of CPP that NATO forces might have to deal with in a real conflict.
BSI takes the approach that the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols (1954 and 1999) provides the fundamental framework for NATO to realise CPP activities, in both international and non-international armed conflict. We aimed to generate just enough cultural heritage content to prompt a small number of HQ-level challenges, developing the exercise training objectives to engage the training audience with issues relating to the core structural pillars of the 1954 Hague Convention including:
- developing understanding of the legal obligations underlying CPP, in particular awareness of, understanding, and application of the 1954 Hague Convention’s Regulations and Protocols (1954, 1999) in support of CPP activities, framed within the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC);
- realising CPP as a cross-cutting activity with relevance and impact across all branches of NATO.
Overall, ARRCs cross-cutting planning and coordination for CPP was excellent, including: proactive identification of a branch lead; proactive CP information gathering; proactive impact assessment; and proactive communication with non-military agencies and media. At the close of the exercise NATO certified the ARRC as a warfighting Corps Headquarters.
LOLE20 also provided us with vital insights into the growing importance NATO is giving to CPP. It highlighted where cultural heritage protection needs to be further developed and integrated as best practice into NATO doctrine, training and operations, but also the critical importance of state party civil implementation of the convention. A key take-away was the necessity of good cultural property information to enable operational decision making – something that most states parties have currently failed to supply.
It was a pleasure to be associated with LOLE20 as a CPP expert and we greatly valued the support received from Exercise Command and Cadence Consultancy. Their expertise in exercise support enabled us to quickly develop a flexible collaborative working arrangement in which we were able to co-develop BSI’s recommendations within the different storylines, meeting both the exercise’s training objectives and the wider CPP training goals.
Capable of supporting up to Joint Force Command level exercises, NATO Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) plans, prepares, and executes static and distributed combined and joint training in support of warfighting readiness. JFTC plays a key role in the NATO transformation process by delivering joint pre-deployment training, supporting current operations and emerging requirements, and by offering a platform for experimentation, testing, and interoperability.
Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) provides NATO with a rapidly deployable, flexible HQ that can act as a Joint, Land or Corps HQ for operations and crisis response. Today, the ARRC is the UK’s largest deployable Land HQ. It remains the UK’s contribution to NATO’s HRF(L) structure and is unique amongst all other High Readiness Forces (Land) by falling under the direct Operational Command of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) during peacetime.
Cadence Consultancy deliver advisory services to managers and organisations through bespoke, professional advice and training on management, security, defence and international development in complex and volatile global environments. They supported the scenario in which the exercise took place, and were responsible for scripting the cultural property protection (CPP) storylines in collaboration with BSI.