The Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) Advisory Training Team (JATT) conducted a three-day Lessons Learned (LL) training from 03 to 05 December 2019 at the Georgian NCO Academy, Kojori base. The training was attended by 28 students assigned as a LL personnel (or LL Points of Contact as they are known in NATO) from different combat units and HQs of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF) under the responsibility of the Chief of relevant LL Section. In addition two US Advisors working at Georgian MoD attended the course.
This LL training was hosted by the GAF J7 Military Education and Combat Training Department that is responsible for collecting, analysing, and disseminating all lessons from Exercises and Operations.
Throughout the LL training, the participants got acquainted with the NATO Lessons Learned Capability and Process, gained experience in using analysis techniques applied to LL scenarios, worked with real life examples, undertook practical work, heard success stories, and were briefed on the advantages and challenges of working with a LL management system.
The Georgian LL community found the LL training very useful in their efforts to implement standard LL procedures within the GAF.
On 28 November 2019, the JALLC received a visit from the new Portuguese Permanent Representative to NATO, in Brussels, His Excellency, Ambassador Pedro Costa Pereira. The aim of the visit was for the Ambassador to obtain a better understanding of the JALLC's mission and its role as NATO's Lead Agent for Lessons Learned.
Ambassador Costa Pereira had an office call meeting with the JALLC's Commander and the Chief of Staff, followed by a presentation from the Commander himself as well as the JALLC's two Division Heads: Group Captain Neil Cummins (Lessons Learned Analysis Division) and Colonel Juan Molina (Lessons Learned Management Divisions). The presentation covered the JALLC's history, where it fits into the NATO structure, its mission, and its joint analysis, Lessons Learned, and training activities.
After the presentation, Ambassador Pedro Costa Pereira thanked the JALLC's Commander for the opportunity to gain greater awareness about the centre and what it does for the Alliance and the Allies, confirming his commitment to the JALLC and his intention to promote the important contribution it makes to the success of NATO operations and exercises.
A group of students who are studying International Relations at the Lusiada Lisbon University and their professor Dr Luis Saraiva visited the JALLC on 26 November 2019. The aim of the visit was to ensure that the students were aware of the NATO presence in Portugal and knew what the JALLC is and what it does.
The JALLC’s Chief of Staff COL Paulo Rodrigues welcomed the students to the JALLC, emphasising the importance of this kind of visit to the JALLC and other NATO Commands. This was followed by a presentation from Commander Francesco Pepe, LLMD Deputy Division Head, on the JALLC's history, where it fits into the NATO structure, its mission, and its work on joint analysis, lessons learned, and training.
The JALLC Advisory Training Team (JATT) provided three days of NATO Lessons Learned (LL) training to the senior staff of the NATO Counter Intelligence Centre of Excellence (CI COE) from 19 to 21 November. The NATO CI COE is located in Krakow, Poland and opened in October 2017 to enhance NATO CI and improve the interoperability of the CI community.
The training covered NATO LL policy, capability, and processes to support the NATO CI COE's Analysis and LL Branch and provided advice on applying the NATO LL policy, capability, and processes to the CI discipline. The JATT training was also the first engagement between the JALLC and the NATO CI COE, laying a foundation to build upon for future interactions.
The NATO CI COE is an International Military Organization. Although it is accredited by NATO, a COE is not part of the NATO Command Structure (NCS), but forms part of the wider framework supporting the NCS. It acts as a catalyst for NATO adaptation and operations, by supporting the development, promotion, and implementation of new policies, concepts, strategies, and doctrine.
As part of the JALLC’s Programme of Work for 2019, the JALLC Advisory and Training Team conducted a five-day Lessons Learned Management Course (LLMC) from 21 to 25 October at the NATO School Oberammergau, Germany. This was the first time that such a course had been trialled.
The LLMC was attended by 22 students from NATO Command Structure HQs, CoEs and Allied Nations who already had an advanced level of Lessons Learned (LL) expertise. The aim was to prepare students for their duties in the planning, administration, and execution of LL Staff Officer functions and services within NATO.
The course covered NATO LL reference documents and concepts, the NATO LL Portal, how to undertake LL Training for Points of Contact and Key Leaders, and LL documentation for Exercises and Operations.
The LLMC provided an opportunity for experienced LL personnel to enhance and strengthen their knowledge of NATO's LL Capability as a learning organization, by providing a closer look at the LL process. The students also analysed the reasons why LL Capabilities within organizations might not be fully efficient or effective.
Day 3 of NLLC 19 began with two presentations on Lessons Learned (LL) from our Partner nations.
Ms Jane Chirwa, the African Union Commission knowledge management officer, spoke about LL from African Standby Forces and Peace and Security Operations.
She said that in 2016 the AU Peace and Security Council noticed that there was very little documentation on the challenges and successes of operations, particularly the long-running AU Mission in Somalia.
A LL Process, drawing from the experience of other international organizations including NATO, was therefore set up, with guiding principles of early stakeholder involvement, internal (member state) drivers, non-attribution of issues raised and safe spaces for sharing, sharing of information and cyclical feedback loops.
This LL Process has been a success and, for the future, the aim will be to enhance it by continuing to learn from NATO’s approach to LL, as well as learning from internal experiences, and benefiting from LL training.
Colonel (ret.) Yuri Pashchuk, of the National Army Academy, Ukraine, spoke about the approach to improving the Ukrainian Army LL Capability.
The current system had been inherited from the Soviet Union in 1991, with improvements being made as a result of learning from operations in Afghanistan. The system has since changed to meet the needs of modern warfare and the current global security threat environment.
The challenges that the Ukraine faced are similar to those faced by all organizations in developing a LL Capability as have been presented at this event.
The Ukraine’s priority was now to embrace interoperability going forward and a roadmap to get there was produced in December 2018.
The focus of the day then moved to New Technologies.
Mr Stefan Olaru, research analyst at the JALLC, introduced the Panel, reminding the audience of the state of play after the New Technologies Event 2018. He provided a brief overview of progress since then, which was followed by a set of related updates.
The first of these updates was from Commander Dietmar Teufel, HQ SACT Innovation Branch Senior Analyst, who spoke about innovation and exploiting disruptive technologies.
In this context, he highlighted the ACT innovation hub, a network of scientists and academics which was launched in 2012, which can be asked find innovative solutions to complex problems, amongst others through issuing innovation challenges to experts inside and outside of NATO; and ACT’s innovation branch, created in May 2019, which is tasked with matching solutions to ACT’s problems and pain points.
He then gave a brief overview of the Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (EDT) Roadmap. The aim of the EDT Roadmap is to exploit technologies to inform policy changes, inform defence planning, feed future capabilities, and ensure interoperability by design. EDT Roadmap activities are prioritized through five main Lines of Effort.
He noted that SACT’s intention is clear – we should not just talk about New Technologies but should deliver through them.
There were then three short updates from the JALLC’s own research analysts.
Referring to the EDT Roadmap, Mr Stefan Olaru stepped onto the stage again to speak about the LL Enabling Line of Effort of the EDT Roadmap, providing an overview of its status.
He noted that SACT’s call for a new LL toolset in early 2018 had been well accepted and, in response, the JALLC organized the New Technologies Event 2018, inviting representatives from NATO and the Nations, industry and academia, to look at how existing New Technology could potentially improve the NATO LL Capability, and in particular the NATO Lessons Learned Portal.
The next step for the JALLC was to conduct analysis on all the data gathered at that Event which resulted in the identification of a number of challenges and corresponding technology that had the potential to address those challenges from the review of some 112 technological applications and products on the market.
Finally, the JALLC has since sponsored NCIA to collect data from Exercise TRJE 18– a total of 3.9 terabytes – and is using that dataset to investigate the potential of Big Data analysis tools.
Mr Filipe Vieira then spoke about the exploration of LL data using data science tools.
The aim was to consider how to capture and analyse the largely untapped dataset of LL from operations, missions and exercises, and from data already uploaded to the NATO LL Portal including from existing Lessons, documents, and reports.
If machine learning could analyze large amounts of data for keywords and trends, analysis could be done much more efficiently and at the pace needed.
The aim was for the technology to help analysts to analyse, not to have spend time extracting the nuggets of information.
A particular challenge would be to ensure that whatever was developed was replicable for other datasets.
Finally, Ms Mihaela Racovita spoke about the JALLC’s project on NATO Exercise Big Data exploration.
Big Datasets, characterized by volume, velocity, and variety of the data, may contain embedded Observations, Best Practices, and Lessons Identified that are never reported, as well as contextual information about Lessons, and clues about the needs of Lessons Learned users.
The Alliance needs to learn how to access that information as quickly as possible and navigate the challenges in doing so.
In the context of this particular project, the JALLC was considering:
how we can use Exercise data to increase the quality of NATO LL Portal products;
how we can help people access the right LL information at the right time;
whether we can extract tacit knowledge; and
whether we can construct predictive LL models.
Expectations need to be managed; Big Data was not a universal cure.
We will need to learn from experimentation and from our failures as well as our successes.
Colonel Paul Malessa, HQ SACT CAPDEV, then presented the new governance model for NATO’s common-funded capability delivery.
After the Cold War, the urgency in delivering new capabilities reduced and the timescales for capability development have relaxed.
With the current speed of technological development, there is a renewed sense of urgency to develop the capabilities the Alliance will need to meet new and challenging threats at the speed of relevance.
A new governance model has therefore been instituted, which has to be followed from beginning to end to be effective. The value added is a reduction in timescales, clearer responsibilities, greater transparency and flexibility, and full coverage of DOTMLPFI.
There was then a set of presentations providing a range of external, Non-NATO perspectives on New Technologies.
Mr Miguel Pinto Luz, the Deputy Mayor of Cascais, the Municipality of the NLLC 2019 Venue, gave a local perspective on how Cascais has been a Smart City for 650 years.
The city has evolved from being technology driven to being technology enabled, led by the city council. The next step will be for citizens and companies to use the technology to co-create the city with the council.
The key is data capture, coordination, and management, which will free up elected politicians to focus on being strategists, visionaries, and social builders.
Mr Al Musgrove of US J7 then provided a national perspective from the United States, speaking about the US Joint LL Information System.
He described its good points, and of course its challenges, noting that a new system is being developed and is expected to be ready in two years.
The aim is for the new system to be interoperable internally with other US systems and externally with NATO.
Mr Charles Macmillan, of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, gave the International Organization perspective, speaking about the Europe Media Monitor.
He explained how in 2002 the European Commission had replaced its “cut and paste” news monitoring system for its spokespeople with a tool that scoured 11,000 relevant news sites and 3,000 articles each day.
The aim is to provide information in usable format – with keyword searching, alerts on clustering and trends, and the top 10 stories by each of the 70 languages.
In the afternoon, there was the opportunity for the audience to present questions to the panel and listen in on the discussion as well as react via the Crowdicity app, the live interactive tool accompanying the NLLC 19.
The Panel discussed how the rapid deployment of New Technologies would impact on their work, the importance of incremental and modular development of systems, how the procurement systems helped and hindered, how to stimulate innovation through technology, as well as the extent to which technology could replace human effort.
The final event of the New Technologies Panel was to invite a representative sample of the NLLC audience on stage to present and explain their needs from a new LL tool.
The aim was to prompt a flurry pf ideas to be captured by the Crowdicty App to help inform the conference outcomes and to help the JALLC better understand what the NATO Lessons Learned Community was looking for in any new Lessons Learned Tool to be developed in the (near) future.
The ideas being submitted and related comments were on screen in real time for the audience to see, and the results were immediately displayed in a Word Cloud diagram (see picture).
Brigadier General Bogdan Cernat then closed the conference with some final thoughts, noting that the event had been both productive and informative. He noted that that the three days of the NATO Lessons Learned Conference had made it clear to him that the NATO Lessons Learned Community needs to better recognize where it needs to change and to actively seek the pain points to find where that change was necessary. He also noted that change inevitably means a risk of failure, but that we cannot be afraid to fail, because to fail is to learn.
There will be much more from the conference in the magazine-style summary that will be published soon and made available on the JALLC’s website at www.jallc.nato.int and on the NATO Lessons Learned Portal.
In the meantime, you can find an impression of the final day of NLLC 19 in the Gallery.
Day 2 of NLLC 19 focused on providing SACT and SACEUR with recommendations on how to make the NATO Lessons Learned (LL) system more relevant and effective in improving NATO’s warfare capability.
It began with Rear Admiral James Kirk, Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC), speaking about his experience of transforming LL from Exercises into doctrine.
He explained how NATO Exercises are becoming increasingly complex, with more stakeholders and participants, and diverse training audiences.
Their value is not just in testing HQ processes, but also in exposing the different levels of command to each other’s ways of planning.
Exercises are testbeds to put new organizations and doctrines under scrutiny. They are where we can muster manpower and materiel and try them out.
It was important to test in challenging circumstances and to understand that what hurts us makes us stronger. We adapt at the point of pain.
Ms Louise Hoehl, NATO Communication and Information Agency (NCIA), then spoke about the Agency’s experiences of doing LLs at Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 (TRJE 18).
NCIA supports over 20 Exercises each year, but TRJE 18 was on a different scale with much greater complexity. Senior management at NCIA was therefore keen to use TRJE 18 as an opportunity to capture its own lessons and to make its own improvements.
NCIA experienced some of the challenges all NATO organizations face when doing LL, such as how to capture observations, turn them into Lessons Identified and then actually learn those Lessons.
Air Commodore Philip Lester, UK Development Concept and Doctrine Centre, spoke about LL in the Space and Cyber domains.
He said that we need to get better at remembering the Lessons that had already been learned, before considering new Lessons.
It was important that LL and doctrine should provide the baseline of understanding from which leadership can make their decisions.
Resources are not used effectively if leadership assumes too quickly that a situation is totally new. It is important to get the jumping off point right.
It is a challenge for both NATO and the Nations to integrate the new domains of Space and Cyber into the existing operational domain structure of air, land, and sea. What we need for the future is an integrated five-domain concept – not three domains plus two.
Learning Lessons at the level of an individual Nation is difficult. It is much more so in an Alliance of 29. He reminded the audience of the indirect benefits from the NATO LL Process from, for example, liaison with colleagues: the journey is important as well as the destination.
In the fourth of this set of presentations, Mr Cornelious (Ham) Doraton, US Army NATO Interoperability/Standardization Representative, spoke about standardization and interoperability LL.
He reminded participants that the military is small in comparison with society as a whole, but its role is very important.
Standardization is vital both in NATO and in everyday life. Standards are the glue that holds NATO together.
He asked the audience why interoperability is important to NATO, the answer being because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
He described how he has worked with the JALLC over the years to embed interoperability standardization through the Capable Logistician Exercises.
Participants then had the opportunity to discuss the issues raised on the Crowdicity App with the Panel of speakers.
During the Panel discussion, there was a call for greater synergy of the JALLC, the JWC, and the Joint Forces Training Centre (JFTC), also known as JJJs, both in general, and specifically to improve the NATO LL Process.
In that connection, there was a need to engage more with the Centres of Excellence and specific Communities of Interest as the Subject Matter Experts.
In the second set of presentations, Professor Heidi Hardt of the University of California, Irvine, spoke about overcoming barriers to learning within the Alliance and how international organizations develop institutional memory.
Her research from 2015 with 120 NATO elites had indicated that there could be inadvertent barriers to LL in NATO.
She noted that her research suggests a preference for informal rather than formal methods for capturing and sharing Lessons organizationally, such as memos or Food for Thought papers.
Professor Hardt also raised the point that NATO’s military rotation and civilian personnel contracting policy can make it difficult to retain institutional memory.
Dr. Henrik Heidenkamp, ACO SHAPE Strategic Management Planning, presented on the links between LL and Strategic Management.
The subject was timely, given that Allied Command Operations (ACO) had recently revised its Strategic Management directive, including adding references to the NATO LL capability, and was about to publish its new Strategic Management Plan.
The aim of ACO’s Strategic Management was to enhance the efficient and effective development of ACO. It can do so more effectively, validly and reliably if it is based on LL.
A Lessons-based execution of the ACO’s Strategic Management System can also improve the justification for ACO’s resource requirements.
Dr. Heidenkamp said that it was important to align and integrate processes so that the Strategic Management community knew about the LL community and vice versa.
As the conference had already heard from various speakers, there are cultural, organizational, and educational challenges for NATO which affect Strategic Management and the linkage with LL.
Dr. Heidenkamp said that his point is not that we cannot make progress. We have to accept, however, that these challenges are inherent to the organization and are not going to change in the short term.
We should define success against the organization as it is, rather than the organization as we think it is or would like it to be.
Finally, Dr Tom Dyson of Royal Holloway University of London spoke about LL best practice from the perspective of the individual Nation and a bottom-up approach.
Dr Dyson described the British Army’s experience of a high-level review team to look at observations in the first instance, with remedial action then overseen by a cross-functional team.
Dr Dyson described factors that can make a difference to organizational culture and can incentivize people to behave in certain ways.
Again, there was the chance for discussion of all the ideas raised by the Panel, with interesting conversation about intelligence sharing, appropriate tools for analysis, the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning, how to present LL information in a way that would find traction with NATO leadership, and how to provide safe spaces for honest reflection.