From 24-28 May 2010, the CHDS team of Kevin Newmeyer, Evan Ellis, Guillermo Pacheco and Boris Saavedra conducted a NationLab exercise for students of Class 49 of the Inter-American Defense College. The event was a role-playing exercise focused on strategy, negotiation, and the use of the instruments of the Inter-American system in responding to a natural disaster event requiring a coordinated, multinational response. Coming at the end of the IADC academic year, the exercise was designed to give the participants hands-on experience with many of the concepts learned in the classroom during their course of studies.
The exercise, designed and executed in conjunction with the faculty of the Interamerican Defense College, utilized a fictitious “America-like” continent, supported by detailed geographic, demographic, economic and other data. The scenario focused on a rainy season of historic proportions, driven by the “El Niño” weather phenomenon, generating widespread flooding and associated humanitarian crises in multiple countries in the continent.
The humanitarian crisis was overlaid by a political context that included border disputes, narcotrafficking, guerrillas, and environmental incidents which complicated the disaster response, and touched upon a broad range of defense and security issues relevant to the IADC students, to include not only military tasks, but the broader political, social, and diplomatic context in which military and police forces in the region support their societies.
In the exercise, IADC students assumed the roles of key actors in the system, to include national presidents, foreign and defense ministers and ambassadors from the multiple fictitious nations involved. Elements of both the United Nations and the Organization of American States relevant to the crisis were also represented, to include the Secretary General of the OAS, a Secretary of Multidimensional Security, the OAS General Assembly, the Permanent Council, the Council on Hemispheric Security, and the Interamerican Defense Council. The national and international press, as well as international financial organizations were also represented as part of the context creating both pressures and imperatives for the participants as they responded to the events of the unfolding crisis.
The event was hosted at the Interamerican Defense College facility on Fort McNair, in Washington DC, with its “Hall of Acts” recreating for the students the dignity and formality of sessions of the Permanent Council and General Assembly of the OAS.