ACT's Capability Engineering Operational Experimentation Team recently returned from Bulgaria’s PHOENIX 2010 Exercise/Experiment having appreciated the impact of ACT Operational Experimentation’s groundbreaking experimentation teamwork strategy.

Since early 2009, ACT has contributed expertise in Civil Military Interaction (CMI), Experimentation Analysis, Experimentation Awareness, and Civil-Military Knowledge Management towards the planning and execution of the PHOENIX 2010 Exercise and Experiment.

The transformational PHOENIX 2010 exercise and experiment was conducted between 15-19 November at the Charalitza National Military Training Complex outside of Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s PHOENIX Distinguished Visitor’s Day on 18 November was attended by the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister, Chief of Defence, and Minister of Defence among other Bulgarian government leadership.

Five ACT experiments related to CMI were present in PHOENIX 2010 alongside Bulgaria’s national exercise and experimentation; the Civil Military Fusion Centre/CimicWeb prototype, the Joint Planning and Execution Coordination Tool – Civil Military Interaction (JPECT-CMI) experiment, ACT’s Civil Emergency Planning (CEP) experiment, the Stability & Reconstruction experiment, and Human Factors in civil-military circumstances experimentation utilizing social media tools. In addition to experimenting, ACT support was provided to assist a wide range of Bulgarian entities engaged in the PHOENIX 2010; support included meteorological and oceanographic advice, public information and psychological operations expertise, logistics, and IT. Additionally, Capital Newsweekly (Sofia), Virginia Wesleyan University (Norfolk, USA) and Old Dominion University (Norfolk, USA) provided audio-visual support in order to assist ACT and Bulgaria with their exercise and experimentation execution.

While the CimicWeb (www.cimicweb.org) portal proved that unique unclassified information could be shared and discussed effectively between many civilian and military natural and man-made disaster responding organizations, JPECT-CMI information and usability was touted as “the best part of the whole exercise” by a retired senior officer participating remotely from Bulgaria’s National Military Academy.  New data points emerged which informed developments in Stability & Reconstruction capabilities, and Human Factors results showed that social media tools, such as Facebook, produced actionable networking and broadcasting benefits in a complex situation.

Additionally, the Bulgarian National Military Academy played a substantial role in the exercise.  The establishment trains in CEP and includes a joint UN-military Masters Degree program in Civil Protection, conducted at a number of distributed locations.

In closing discussions with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence, ACT Operational Experimentation Branch Head Captain Vincent Giampaolo (US Navy) noted, "Our Branch is fortunate to have witnessed national-led experimentation in action. We look forward to exploring international distributed training and civil-military experimentation with Bulgaria in the future."

Based on the success of PHOENIX 2010 interaction between ACT and Bulgaria, ACT now has a model for future experimentation teamworking.  Such teamworking can help to avoid duplication of work and increase Alliance and national returns on investments.

For more information about PHOENIX, Operational Experimentation, connect with the team on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ACTContributionPHOENIX, or email Commander Joergen Jessen (Danish Navy): joergen.jessen@act.nato.int