News: Finland participants test NFFI during Combined Endeavor 2011
BADEN-WURRTEMBERG, Germany - As Combined Endeavor 2011 participants begin scenario based testing, Finnish army members test their NATO Friendly Force Information system Sept. 19 and begin to wrap up their nations 13th year of participation in the exercise.
Combined Endeavor is a mass communication exercise with participants from nearly 40 different NATO and Partner for Peace countries participating this year, and provides an opportunity for all the nations to come together to work on interoperability in a deployed environment, while building international relationships.
While making international relationships and improving their interoperability and communication systems, the Finnish military members have also taken their experiences during Combined Endeavor and used them as a template for their own exercise, called Finnish Endeavor.
First Lt. Harri Halinen, research and development officer for the Finnish army, said the testing environment during the Finnish Endeavor is an imitation of the Combined Endeavor.
“We have a 2-3 week exercise back in Finland which is based on the Combined Endeavor exercise,” he said. “CE has been a good example for us on how to create a testing environment to create interoperability. Our exercise is the largest exercise in the communications branch in the whole country now. All the branches including army, navy, air force, all the C4 [command, control, communication and computer] agency centers and governmental officials participate.”
This year Finland is participating in mission group 4 on a battalion level so they have subordinate units and are dealing with the higher headquarters as well.
Halinen said this exercise has increased their interoperability capabilities a lot over the years and helped develop their national systems.
“We first tested some of our systems here and then implemented them back home as well as in operations outside of Finland,” he said. “We have used Combined Endeavor as much as possible. The first time we started to actually implement it was around 2004. When we did the exchange of lead nation in Bosnia, we tested the whole system here first.”
Finland participants have found Combined Endeavor to be helpful to test the systems and develop them in this deployed atmosphere as they set up operations in real-world situations.
“It was the same thing with the Afghanistan operations, we tested our systems here with some of the nations who we are working with there,” Halinen said. “CE has been a good place for us to develop our systems and the way we do things, it’s very proactive for us.”
Instead of implementing concepts immediately the exercise provides opportunities to trial and error tests with several participants.
“With the right equipment and the right nations, this has become normal for us, this is how we have learned to do things,” he said. “CE is playing a big part for us. This is a single step in the validation implementation process. It is important to us that we can test our systems here fully before taking them to actual operations.”
Halinen said although there are many ways Finland benefits during the exercise, two specific aspects of the exercise are most beneficial, international relationships and the unique test bed.
“The most important benefit is here you learn to know the people, and usually when you know the right people it helps you work outside in real-world operations,” he said. “The second benefit is that this is a unique test bed. The testing possibilities we have here, where else can we test like this? There are none. We basically test all of our systems which we are going to implement in operations with the same people who are going to be in those operations.”