ALLIES FieldEx 2019

Fieldex 2019

ALLIES hosted its annual FieldEx (Field Exercise for Peacekeeping and Stability Operations) in April, in North Kingstown, RI. FieldEx is a kinetic simulation organized by ALLIES undergraduate students. ALLIES is the IGL’s civil-military initiative.

The scenario for this year featured a secularizing monarchy, the House of Kulak, and the state government struggling to contend with hardline religious rebels, the Matthians, for control. The event saw students from across the spectrum of academic disciplines involved in this dynamic, crisis exercise, navigating political and armed conflicts, not just between factions, but also within factions. Each faction also had to contend with resource distribution in its economy, as well as to grapple with escalation mechanics and tactical operations for attaining territorial control – all simulated on a paintball field. This was happening amidst a substantial civilian population with their own agency and ambitions.

Over the course of the two-day simulation, multiple developments occurred: the government was almost wiped out by the Matthians; a splintering happened within the religious hardliners, with defections significantly altering the balance of power; and civilians found power in lending their support to different leaders.

Aided by several graduate student advisors from The Fletcher School, FieldEx participants were advised on security operations, tactical maneuvers, conflict negotiations, and more. For 24 hours, students successfully took on personas motivated by values that the students themselves may or may not have held. They forged new relationships, negotiated terms, and ultimately determined their own paths in this learning experience.

FieldEx is valuable as a learning tool because it provides an opportunity for students to test out theoretical frameworks and observe the dynamics as they play out between “armed” and “unarmed” groups within a contained environment. Additionally, it provides an avenue for participants to practice their decision making and diplomatic skills in stressful, time-oriented situations, which can be more effective for nurturing future leaders than a paper or tabletop simulation.