NEW REPORT: Scripting Workshop report available

NEW REPORT: Scripting Workshop report available

Participants looking at and point at a hex grid map with features and battle tokens on it.

Blue Shield International and the Netherlands 1 CMI Command hosted the inaugural Scripting Workshop in October with the CIMIC Centre Of Excellence.


The workshop aimed to

  • Explore and understand relevant CPP challenges at the level, differentiated from strategic level tasks;
  • Explore and understand relevant CPP challenges in all phases of a mission and all types of deployment;
  • Share good practice and experience; in order to
  • Develop expertise in providing CPP exercise support.

Through two key training formats: wargames and large-scale exercises at the tactical level, with the ultimate goal of enriching training so that CPP is encountered as a planning factor with true operational impact.

Over 2.5 days, participants attended expert lectures on the challenges and successes of training in CPP, and workshopped challenges to CPP scripting in small groups. 

The problem

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?


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.

hex grid map with features and battle tokens on it. A Blue shield token is prominent in the foreground
Exercise Horizon Strike wargame, exploring cultural property protection in a tactical setting, with thanks the British Army and dstl. © BSI 2023

Day two focussed on Exercise Horizon STRIKE, a wargame developed by Major Dunkley, 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.

It was shocking to me just how quickly the red (insurgent) team were able to loot or destroy most of the cultural property on the map. Without highly mobile personnel specifically dedicated to protecting it, it would be almost impossible to keep it safe in a real conflict. If states parties don't move their museum collections to safety, they are at real risk. The game conveyed that to me in a way words never could.

The final day opened with lectures from Dr Chris Jasparro , 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.

Group photo
CIMIC CoE logo
Royal blue and white shield, pointing down, in a slightly lighter blue circle

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