Mission Command Training Program hosted a military and civilian table-top exercise that focused on mass atrocity prevention and response options June 12-13 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
Participants included members of the Army, Air Force and representatives from more than 15 other governmental agencies, including the State Department, Department of Defense, Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The exercise took place two days before the first meeting of the Atrocity Prevention Board. In August 2011, President Barack Obama issued the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities. The Atrocity Prevention Board will work to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to prevention mass atrocities and genocide.
“The Army is interested in these topics because in the future many of these issues may come back to us,” said Scott Wuestner, exercise facilitator and program analyst, with MCTP’s Contemporary Operating Environment Operations Group.
“We need to figure out how to look at these issues comprehensively and actually come up with answers,” Wuestner said. “This is an action conference, not a discussion conference. By focusing on developing policy statements and policy options we can tie this exercise back to III Corps.”
Participants worked together to develop mass atrocity prevention and response option strategies for III Corps to execute on the simulated battlefield of Atropia during the recent Warfighter exercise.
Sarah Sewall is the founder and faculty director of the MARO Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University. She acted as the table-top exercise’s senior mentor.
“The main point of this exercise is to get the civilian policy makers to make their guidance as specific as possible. Ambiguity is a tool frequently used by policy makers to bring about consensus but ambiguity is not something that commanders on the ground need when it comes to policy,” Sewall said.
Sewall is co-author of “Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO): A Military Planning Handbook.”
“This is the first time a policy event has been tied to an operational exercise and the first time that MAPRO has been integrated into an exercise this large,” Wuestner said.
MCTP plans to host future table-top exercises with other relevant topics, such as human trafficking, food security and gender-based violence.
“Regardless of the topic, bringing together interagency policy planners is our ultimate goal, Wuestner said. “It replicates what happens in the real world and provides the most realistic training environment for our training audiences.”