After completing his final NATO posting as the Executive Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff Joint Force Development Allied Command Transformation in the US, retired Norwegian Army Colonel Geir Fonstad talks about his experience, discusses how digitalisation has changed military training for the better, and shares some thoughts on countering potential threats.
Hi Geir, Tell us a bit about your military background
I joined the Norwegian Armed Forces straight out of school, rising through the ranks from Inspection officer and Company Commander to become a Colonel specialising in Army / Joint Signals (CIS) and Cyber Defence. It’s taken me around the country and the world supporting allied armed forces, including multiple assignments with NATO. This included my final posting as the Executive Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff Joint Force Development Allied Command Transformation in the US.
Why did you join 4C Strategies Norway?
I have completed 40 years of service. With that comes a rich and diverse military network along with a broad understanding of military processes and tactics, that I wanted to put to good use. 4C gives me that opportunity. Additionally, I strongly believe that through the Exonaut training management software the Norwegian armed forces and indeed Norway as a whole can become more resilient and better prepared against incidents – something that I have spent a lot of my life working towards.
You’ll be working with Exonaut®, what are your thoughts on training management software?
Over the years I’ve been involved with training at soldier, team, Platoon and Battalion level in many Norwegian and international exercises, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how digitalisation has improved training. In the early days, we relied on pen and paper to monitor and assess training. Then we turned to Spreadsheets, which have been superseded by Exonaut. Back in the day I can remember asking myself “what is the true status of my unit’s readiness?” Today, Exonaut helps to answer this as well as offering key insights on what needs to be worked on to develop a unit. It removes subjectivity and helps Command develop the optimal training strategy.
How do you think Exonaut can support the Norwegian armed forces?
There is already a framework agreement in place with the Norwegian armed forces but I want to make sure the different entities get the full benefit of Exonaut, from planning exercises all the way through to exploiting training data to build capabilities effectively. There are so many exciting developments both in the latest release and in the pipeline. You just have to look at what the British Army have done with MyMIMIR to see what the potential capabilities are.
Where else can Exonaut be used?
I believe there is great potential for use beyond the armed forces. The defence of Norway involves multiple government departments. As a nation, we need to ensure that we are prepared and that the processes and infrastructure are in place to counter potential threats. If you want to assess and build resilience, Exonaut is the ideal tool as shown, for example, in the cyberattack training and exercises that 4C did with the Norwegian State Electricity company Stattnet.
Finally, what do you do in your free time?
I like to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family – wife, three kids and two grandchildren. I also enjoy physical activity, including, cycling, running and skiing. And when I’m not outdoors I follow the football, I’m a big Liverpool fan.