FieldEx 2019: Pitting Religious Rebels against a Secularizing Monarchy in a Kinetic Simulation on Conflict Resolution by Lionel Oh (A’21)

by jtijssen
Apr 29

ALLIES hosted its annual FieldEx (Field Exercise for Peacekeeping and Stability Operations) on April 5th-6th, in North Kingstown, RI. FieldEx is a kinetic simulation organized by ALLIES undergraduate students, with support from the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL).

The scenario for this year’s edition 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, to navigate 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 all happening amidst a substantial civilian population with their own agency and ambitions.

Over the course of the simulation, multiple developments occurred: the government was almost wiped out by the Matthians, a splintering happened within the Matthians, defections significantly altered the balance of power, and civilians found power in lending their weight to different leaders.

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

FieldEx is valuable as a learning tool because it provides a rare 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 situations, which is more effective for nurturing future leaders than a paper or tabletop simulation. Hopefully, with continued support from the IGL and ALLIES, the tradition of FieldEx will continue to educate Tufts students and challenge our conceptions of successful methods of peacekeeping.