Blue Shield International and the Netherlands 1 CMI Command hosted the inaugural Scripting Workshop in October with the CIMIC Centre Of Excellence.
Proactive cultural property protection (CPP) has the potential to enhance operational military effectiveness. States parties’ armed forces are charged with safeguarding cultural property as far as is feasible during armed conflict. This can only be achieved through proactive operational planning – armed forces have to put measures in place to avoid damage and destruction by mitigating the anticipated effects of combat events, manoeuvre, and logistical activity. They have to support the competent authorities under Article 7(2) of the Hague Convention (1954), which may include contributing to cultural property ‘first aid’ conservation activities at the site of recent violent events, suppressing the illicit trade in cultural property, supporting evacuations of movable CP, or even providing site protection if it’s mission relevant. Armed forces may also be called on to support the host nation, or an occupied state party, in efforts to. CPP also factors into stabilisation operations and disaster relief. All of this should occur in collaboration with, or on behalf of, states parties, who own the heritage in question – even when armed forces function as the occupying power.
Well-judged CPP planning should promote freedom of manoeuvre, it can contribute to operational effectiveness, and create conditions for positive strategic communication opportunities. CPP is a mission enabler, not a drag on operational efficiency. But this requires specialist input to operational planning from the beginning, which is not always available. So how can we include CPP in training – beyond general awareness-raising to enable this?
Our workshop aimed to share good practice and experience, and develop expertise in providing cultural property protection exercise support, building on experience of collective training during military exercises, in order to explore and understand relevant CPP challenges in different types of mission at the tactical level.
We focussed on three core areas:
- CPP in wargaming
- Collective training exercises and CPP exercises
- Standards of good practice.
The event was attended by c.20 participants from the UK, France, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere. The workshop began with a lecture from the CIMIC Centre of excellence about where CPP fits into NATO Policy and action, followed by a lecture Experiences in Wargaming: Soldiers, Scientists and Civilians by Dr Natalia Wojtowicz of the Hague University of Applied Sciences.
A roundtable discussion then focussed on the threats to cultural property in conflict and disaster, looking at what the threat is, what it is a threat to, who might cause the threat, and whose responsibility it is to mitigate it. This set the scene for day two.
Day two focussed on Exercise Horizon STRIKE, a wargame developed by Major Dunkley of the Specialist Group Military Intelligence (British Army) and DSTL. A successful radical insurgency (red team) in fictional North Zahour is driving up the fertile River valley, gathering followers as it advances. A NATO mission (blue team) is tasked to block their advance and clear them from the Area of Operations, while the red team try and take and hold the capital. Blue are bound by the Laws of armed conflict, but red can use, abuse, loot, and destroy cultural property. The game was an extremely effective teaching tool for the civilian and military personnel alike.
The final day opened with lectures from Dr Chris Jasparro of the US Naval War College , and Cpt Ankie Peterson of the Dutch Army, exploring the role of CPP in Information Operations, with a specific focus on maritime operations, and CIMIC, capturing the broad role CPP plays in operations.
Participants then moved into syndicates to explore CPP challenges in their rear area, on the front line of operations, and in the opponent area, looking at how the risks explored on day one might manifest in these areas and how we can develop realistic challenges for training audiences to deal with these threats.
The workshop concluded with good practice recommendations.