Arya Honarmand will participate in the full-scale, three day exercise and long after it has been conducted. For the EU Commission Exercise Officer, “SCOPE 2017 will not be completed before the gaps are closed and our preparedness is strengthened.”
Arya Honarmand is the EU’s man who oversees the collaborative exercises funded by the Commission. He is currently handling 12 exercises in different phases, which are co-financed like SCOPE 2017.
“Exercises can last for a long time. They are not over after the simulated exercise,” says Arya who commends Norway and the Nordic countries for developing good exercise projects. He believes it is important to make sure that simulated exercises are a tool for the exercise project, which, in turn, is a tool for further development and ensuring desired preparedness. This allows for a proper exercise function according to Arya.
“Lessons are never fully learned, but rather lessons identified. Risk, vulnerability, gap analyzes and trends are the basis for how the aim for exercises are developed. Then one works to fill the gaps to ensure the desired level of preparedness desired,” says Arya.
He continues, “Large and complex exercises such as SCOPE 2017 help test procedures that are well developed in order to ensure their continued validity. Some other elements in SCOPE 2017 focus on developing and exploring a new form of collaboration in order to find out how it would connect and coordinate with already established response procedures. Based on the findings, recommendations are developed and an implementation plan is set,” explains Arya.
Strong commitment and engagement
In the planning conferences leading up to the exercise, Arya praised the commitment and good collaboration between the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish authorities, including the maritime and civil protection sectors.
“I see that the multi-national participants have a very positive attitude. People are interested, engaged, and are willing to go beyond normal expectations. Clearly, there is a personal commitment and that is good to see, especially when conducting an exercise on this scale.”
Arya goes on to emphasize the importance of sound project management to allow the participants to implement plans and tasks without too much guidance beyond the scope of the exercise. The tasks are set within the framework, so it is up to the participants to perform says Arya who believes the approach provides “a very commendable mixture of structure and flexibility” for all the partners that are developing and managing the exercise project.
“In the past some clarity was needed between the participants, but this is no longer the case and there is now more awareness on what’s needed to improve,” says Arya.
Statements have been made that new knowledge should be the goal of the exercise, but Arya emphasizes that it is important to “practice, test, develop and explore what we can – and with new people. Ideally, you should work with others that you have not worked with previously, and with new nations, different languages and cultures,” he says.
“Personally, I think you cannot have a collaborative exercise where you only learn new things. The risk of learning too much (during an exercise) is that people who are not as experienced, may not be able to perform their tasks, and need trials and testing. And if they do not get their work done, we will not be able to test the system, and learn if the collaboration works,” opines Arya who firmly believes people must be able to accomplish their tasks and contribute to system building if the exercise is to help strengthen preparedness.
“The advantage of practicing known tasks with new people has been evident in the planning phases of SCOPE 2017, where this is done by experienced people. This ensured that the response system is developed and is in focus rather than the individuals taking part, thereby ensuring that the finding and improvements made are institutional and long lasting” says Arya and adds, “This becomes even more effective since people are responsive. I see a willingness and desire to improve. And there is room for open discussions.”
Effect and consequences
“A stone is a stone, but what is a stone? Perspectives can differ,” says Arya, quoting an expert who accompanied the planning group in a particularly vulnerable and protected area in Langesund, where the exercise shall be conducted in September.
“We have a legacy, a story, which adds an extra dimension, challenge to an incident. Steinvika is proof that we are not only seeing an incident but also the consequences of it,” says Arya and concludes, “It’s good to see the big picture, the effect, the impact it can have in several places. We are testing our readiness to handle our responses where even stones become important.”
See more pictures from Steinvika in this slideshow: