Thursday, October 1, 2009

Putting the Puzzle Together Backwards

Since Monday, 28 September 09 I’ve been part of a team of role players getting ready for an exercise. At first it seemed pretty simple. Follow the scenario, generate the appropriate paperwork and presto! As it turns out, it’s actually quite a bit more complicated than that. Since the exercise is the capstone event for a two week course, it’s designed to be a teaching vehicle. This means the process as a whole is more important than the authenticity of the individual parts.

When you are a small part of a large military operation it is easy to lose sight of the big picture because – you never see it! Each staff officer, unit and section arrives on the scene with their bag of tricks. They know their responsibilities and devote all their energies in their ‘lanes’.

The challenge of building a complex, time phased event within a civil military structure requires envisioning the big picture and then partitioning into functional and time segments. As it turns out it might have been easier to craft the military scenario than the information and learning scenario behind it. The challenge for the curriculum creator is to structure a world where a normal bit player is actually the center of gravity for the scenario.

The Public Affairs Officer (PAO) is a special staff officer to the Commander. More than that, the PAO becomes the trusted confidant of the CDR because the PAO is the ‘voice of the CDR’. Notwithstanding this exalted position, the PAO is a relatively minor player on the operational stage. Junior in rank and in staff standing, the PAO, has input into the courses of action of the operation, but has very little clout overall.

So, given the above, it becomes a daunting task to run the play and altering the roles of the actors. However, as with other projects, if you take enough diversified experience, focus them in a single direction, add a touch of structure by using a historic scenario and you have the elements to develop the alternative military civil military universe.

Rehearsals solidify how the players will work together the steady catalytic hand of the faculty directs the interaction and tah da– the stage is set!

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