Military Exercise Management

Bringing new digital capabilities to NATO exercise planning

Navy exercise
  • Background: NATO staff were forced to gather regularly in a single location to plan exercises; this was both costly and time-consuming. NATO wanted to improve efficiency and planning management capabilities with an intuitive software tool for use by all stakeholders –  no matter their location. The tool also had to meet strict security requirements. Today, NATO uses 4C Strategies’ Exonaut® Exercise Planning and Programming Solution.

  • Challenge: Improve the efficiency, transparency and interoperability of the NATO exercise planning and programming processes. Provide off-the-shelf, collaborative software that facilitates distributed working and provides a common version of the truth, as part of the electronic Military Training and Exercise Programme (eMTEP).

  • Solution: Exonaut is the de facto standard for military training management software. The highly-scalable, permissions-based solution supports remote and real-time, multi-agency exercise planning, based on strategic objectives. It is accredited at both NATO Secret and UNCLAS and is listed in the NATO Approved Fielded Product List (AFPL).

  • Benefits: Planning concurrently, with a single version of the truth and access to all the required exercise data, saves staff time and enables smarter decision-making. Making the best use of scarce resource in this way realises synergies within NATO and between nations, all of which reduces their costs. Additionally, the transparency delivered by the eMTEP allows NATO HQs and nations to visualise the exercise programme, to seize opportunities for collaboration, and to avoid synchronisation issues.

  • Customer: NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. Collective defence is at the heart of the Alliance and creates a spirit of solidarity and cohesion among its members. There are currently 30 NATO members.

The need for a more collaborative tool for NATO exercises planning

NATO and its member nations must make the best use of scarce resources, exploiting training synergies where possible in order to audit, track, and visualise levels of readiness and the cumulative training risk. This requires a transparent, cohesive and consistent training and exercise planning and management system that can provide the ability to connect forces, including existing NATO nations and authorised partners.

Complex, large scale military training exercises involving multiple military forces were being planned in spreadsheets as a part of the NATO Military Training and Exercising Program (MTEP). MTEP was also limited to NATO Command Structure exercises and needed to be expanded to include National voluntary inputs to gain an overall picture of NATO’s training. The existing in-house system was unable to meet requirements and high-level planning and collaboration often required the on-site participation of nations.

“4C Strategies’ Exonaut eMTEP solution has modernised NATO’s exercise programming capability. We are able to build a coherent exercise programme from a common set of data and assumptions, in a distributed fashion, including visualising Allied nation activity. Working in a simple user interface, the core team in Allied Command Operations (ACO) are able to assign and manage workflow and increase the efficiency of our physical meetings."
Stuart Furness, Joint Force Development Programme Manager in Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and electronic Military Training and Exercising Program (eMTEP) sponsor

How we did it

Having successfully won an international competitive bid process and carried out a detailed implementation project, 4C delivered an interim operating capability (IOC) to the core eMTEP User Group. Working with that group and staff at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) and Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC), 4C further developed the solution to meet the needs of users across NATO’s military headquarters and national capitals.

Supporting NATO HQs and National Capitals

“Exonaut is used independently by multiple NATO nations and partners to plan military training and dynamically manage and analyse exercises,” says 4C Strategies Military Director, Brigadier (Ret’d) David Paterson.

“It’s tailored to meet their training methods, doctrines and languages. So, it’s a natural step to take what is used independently by nations and make it available for use across NATO and in national capitals in a single collaborative solution for effective exercise planning and programming.”

electronic Military Training and Exercise Programme (eMTEP)

NATO wanted a more user-friendly, digital planning and management solution to support its high readiness goals, increase transparency – both within NATO HQs and between allies – and to facilitate efficient collaborative planning and working. NATO HQ Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT) Deputy Chief of Staff, Joint Force Development (DCOS JFD) requested that any solution be a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software tool to support the NATO electronic Military Training and Exercise Programme (eMTEP). The responsibility for delivering NATO exercises across the Alliance has now transferred to Allied Command for Operations (ACO) in Mons. 4C continue to work closely with the Training and Exercises Branch (TREX) to support eMTEP and its further development to meet their needs.

"As a longtime trusted partner, 4C have worked with our core team to match our exercise requirements and improve our capability. This has clearly shown the benefits of commercial solutions in terms of speed and agility.”
Stuart Furness, Joint Force Development Programme Manager ACT and electronic Military Training and eMTEP sponsor

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    Modified off-the-shelf solution

    Our consultants and developers worked closely with the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) core user group to define, develop and implement Exonaut as a COTS based solution for the eMTEP requirement. This involved detailed requirements capture, capability demonstrations and development work to customise the existing software to ACT requirements. User training has been provided and the data from the old eMTEP was transferred across to the new system.

    ”Essentially, what we have delivered is a modified off-the-shelf solution,” continues David. “The solution that was initially provided has been developed and updated as new releases of the Exonaut platform have been deployed. For instance, it’s now possible to easily plan sub-activities within the main exercise and link them at different planning stages.”

    “4C Strategies’ Development Cycle, Customer Development Academies and User Fora, in addition to our very close working relationship with the client, ensure that we have early visibility of their requirements and are able to be appropriately agile in meeting them, so our solutions and support remain cutting edge and relevant."
    4C Strategies Military Director, Brigadier (Ret’d) David Paterson

    Improved collaboration through a single version of the truth

    When planning NATO exercises, NATO HQs and nations now have a single version of the truth, which was not possible with the old way of working. Planning can be done concurrently, remotely and in real-time, thanks to, in part, the intuitive dashboards and visual support tools, while users have secure, permission-based access to exercise data. Ultimately, collaboration between nations has improved, which supports the goal of providing better training and ensuring military readiness is at its peak.

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