NationLab Uruguay 2010: An Interactive Strategy Development and Coordination Exercise
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24 Sep 2010

NationLab Uruguay 2010

During the week of 30 August – 3 September, the CHDS team of Mr. Kevin Newmeyer, Dr. Evan Ellis, Lt. Col. Carlos Berrios, and Mr. Steve Meyer traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay to conduct the exercise event “NationLab Uruguay 2010,” in conjunction with CHDS’ partner institution in Uruguay, el Centro de Altos Estudios Nacionales (CALEN).

NationLab Uruguay 2010 was an interactive, seminar-style game, giving participants hands-on experience in strategy development and coordination in a complex, evolving interagency environment, with a focus on multiple national security challenges confronting the nation of Uruguay. The game reflected an effective working collaboration and partnership between CALEN and CHDS in all aspects of the activity, beginning with the design of scenarios tailored to the Uruguayan situation that better generated challenges, dialogue, and teaching points in support of the missions of both institutions in security and defense education.

In the exercise itself, the CALEN students had the opportunity to role play, interacting elements of the Uruguayan government and international community over a period of 18 months, in the formulation and adaptation of coordinated multi-sectoral strategies to combat emerging new challenges important for the preparations of the nation’s next generation of defense and security leaders. These ranged from narco-trafficking and cyber threats to environmental issues and terrorism. Entities represented in the exercise included a President and her cabinet, various ministries, the international community, and the domestic and international press.

Each day of exercise play took the participants through a new national planning cycle, from the formulation and declaration of national policy by the Uruguayan president, to strategy formulation and interagency coordination by ministry-level entities, to interaction with the broader Uruguayan society and international community. For both the President and the cabinet-level officials, the activity was also an exercise in leadership, in which they were able to provide both vision and guidance, as well as coordinating the work product of a diverse team under severe time pressures.

At the end of each day, the detailed actions of the Uruguayan government represented by the exercise participants were adjudicated by CHDS and CALEN subject matter experts. During the subsequent day, results of the previous day’s events were briefed to the students, providing them feedback with respect to their actions, and focusing them on key issues and dilemmas in the complex environment in which they were operating.

The exercise was very positively received by the CALEN, and by participants, who provided a great deal of constructive feedback on ways to continue to improve the event in the future.

Now returned from Montevideo, the CHDS team is preparing to conduct its next exercise events, in coordination with the Centro de Altos Estudios Nacionales (CAEN) of Peru, 25-29 October 2010 in Lima, Peru and with the Centro de Estudios Superiores Navales (CESNAV) of Mexico, 8-12 November in Mexico City.