Archive: Welcome to Trainica


The SA National War College (SANWC), the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) school for operational level commanders and staff officers, has just completed the development of a comprehensive handbook to support all Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme (JSCSP) training exercises. T

Welcome to Trainica
August 22, 2003  
The SA National War College (SANWC), the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) school for operational level commanders and staff officers, has just completed the development of a comprehensive handbook to support all Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme (JSCSP) training exercises. The first of these, EX CETSWAYO, is currently underway on the continent of Trainica.
Trainica, the SANWC’s new battlespace, is a modified version of Africa with name and border changes. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) remains but much else was discarded. Gone is Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia — to make way for more sea and coast for maritime operations. Gone, too, are West African states from Guinea to Nigeria. Formed from north-central Africa are the notional states of Badanga, the People’s Republic of Mena, Wasmia and Wali. Each is a three-dimensional state with real African topography and realistic infrastructure, government structures, economy and armed forces. In this notional area a SADC force, commanded and staffed by JSCSP students, can operate across the spectrum of conflict until they achieve proficiency at their tasks.
Students in the JSCSP, generally lieutenant colonels or naval commanders, are expected to learn the competencies required of both operational level commanders and staff officers — to an international level so that SANDF officers, and International Fellows on the course can confidently take part in future joint and multinational operations. This require JSCSP exercises to employ a joint and multinational military force on an operational level battlespace.
The SANWC quickly discovered that neither existed in an acceptable form and late last year SANWC staff were ordered to develop a notional SADC force as well as a fictional battlespace. Both, however, had to be realistic and comply with other conditions. These included that:
   — The underlying premise of military training was to train for war — something mostly forgotten by the pundits of peacekeeping. Specific training for the conduct of particular types of operations would be in addition to combat training — not in dilution of it. Thus both the battlespace and SADC force had to allow for training across the entire spectrum of conflict.
   — The structure and battlespace had to allow for expeditionary operations as there was currently no realistic threat to South Africa along its frontiers. In addition recent SANDF deployments have been far beyond the borders of the country. Expeditionary operations are also more intellectually and practically demanding — both for real and for the student.
   — The structure and battlespace had to be visionary. As an institution, the SANWC has to look into the future to best prepare tomorrow’s leaders for tomorrow’s challenges. Considering South Africa’s role in the SADC and the AU, it can be expected that the country and the SANDF will play a lead role in any joint and multinational military structure.
   — Wherever possible, current structures and practices had to be used. These may be further developed along avenues both realistic and practical for possible future scenarios.
   — All exercise material had to be unclassified to avoid security issues. All source information also had be in the public domain.
   — The battlespace had to be African in order for students to learn relevant and pertinent lessons. The terrain had to be African, the infrastructure (or lack thereof) had to be African and the environment — including health issues — had to be African. However, the scenarios had to be fictitious to prevent controversy. “Real world” politics, religion and conflicts were therefor avoided.
   — The battlespace had to be developed in close co-operation with the SA Army Engineer Formation’s Geographic Officer to ensure realistic and professional mapping. Similarly, the War Simulation Centre had to be consulted to ensure that its facility could support exercises in Trainica.
Both Trainica and the notional SADC military structure more than comply with these demands. It creates, what the SANWC directing staff calls “the illusion of reality.” Its scope is infinite and should only require updating as today`s fiction becomes tomorrow`s reality and new equipment is taken into service to remain relevant. Roughly 60 times the size of the 1982 Falklands war theatre of operations, Trainica, as it stands, is large enough to support SANWC exercises for a decade at the least. Depending on scale it ranges from 700,000 to 14,000,000 square kilometres.
A number of factors were taken onto account when designing the notional SADC military structure. The force structure firstly had to be African. Secondly, it had to be joint and multinational. Thirdly, it had to be able to operate across the spectrum of conflict. Fourthly, while visionary it also had to lie within the bounds of possibility. Lastly, the framework nation was to be South Africa. Like Trainica, the structure selected does not reflect the views or opinion of the South African government or the SANDF. It is merely to provide a model for training officers at the operational level in a joint and multinational context.
The structure itself is based on the model proposed by Saif al Islam al Qadhafi in the December 2002 edition of the RUSI Journal (reprinted in the African Armed Forces Journal in March 2003) while the facts upon which the notional national contributions are based was taken from the 2002-2003 World Defence Almanac and the Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment. A typical political superstructure, drawn as much from Al Qadhafi as from the current NATO and British national set-up is also included. From the top down, the scheme provides for a government or international body at its apex, giving direction to a “Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ)” at military-strategic level, which in turn gives instructions to a “Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ)” at the operational level. The JFHQ, in turn, develops orders for the “Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF)” at the tactical level.
The notional national contributions — which exclude the DR Congo, Mauritius and the Seychelles — have been fashioned into a land contribution organised as a brigade per SADC member, with air, naval, medical, special forces and civil affairs contingents where possible. These, for SANWC purposes, have been pooled as a “golfbag” from which “SADC military authorities can draw the right mix of forces to mount short-notice, medium-scale operations of all kinds -– from disaster
relief to high intensity war fighting under SADC or UN coalition sponsorship.”  
The last word goes to Trainica’s designers: It is “a unique training system for African command and staff training which can be developed and refined over time but, in general terms, should stand the test of time.”