MONS, Belgium – The SHAPE Partnership Directorate (PD) held an Introduction to NATO Military Partnerships Course (IMPC) from Oct. 28 – 30, 2020 online with participants from the United States to Afghanistan taking part.
IMPC is an Allied Command Transformation (ACT) certified 200-level course that aims to prepare NATO and Partner Nation staff personnel appointed to Military Partnership posts to learn about the organisations, processes and tools that directly contribute to successful execution of Military Partnership in NATO.
Executing any type of training this year has been especially challenging
Conducting IMPC entirely online this year was the only feasible option, aside from outright cancellation. Ironically, video teleconferencing capabilities were used in support of IMPC in 2019, prior to the impacts of COVID-19. In his keynote address to learners, Rear Admiral Bulent Turan (DCOS/PD) stated, "Last year, I offered my remarks to the course at FINCENT via VTC. That was the first time IMPC leveraged technology to allow a speaker to address course participants remotely. Little did we know that, one year later, we would expand the use of that technology to not only bring you Subject Matter Experts from all over the Alliance and both sides of the Atlantic, but to have you also remotely attend this course." The Admiral acknowledged that, while the virtual course was not the ideal platform for learning or networking with NATO Staff, this year's IMPC would still expose learners to key concepts that support Partnership Cooperation within NATO.
Screenshot of PvMoodle, FINCENT's online education database. From here, participants to IMPC could access course content and interact with one-another. - Photo by SHAPE Partnership Directorate
"Executing any type of training this year has been especially challenging," stated Lieutenant Colonel Angel Santiago, the IMPC Course Director. "There are already limited opportunities for NATO Staff to learn how to properly coordinate partnering activities. Even on-the-job training is difficult for newcomers due in part to reduced manning and few engagements with NATO Partners. This means that newcomers will practically lose a year of experience." Given those circumstances, Santiago utilised online resources available at both SHAPE and FINCENT to create a virtual version of the course.
Some learners, like Staff Sergeant Giorgio Carcoforo, were quick to note the value of attending the course. "I'm a newcomer to SHAPE (PD)," he said. "IMPC was very useful to understand all the decisive points that have to be well planned to accomplish our end state. The course has helped me to put all that information in the right place and gave me a clearer picture. Without this course, I wouldn't have known how many players there are and how structurally complex all of this is."
Under normal conditions, IMPC is conducted annually as an in-residence course at the Finnish Defense Forces International Centre (FINCENT) in Helsinki, Finland. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected travel and the ability for courses like this one to be safely executed. This year, instead of bringing learners and Subject Matter Experts from across the Alliance to FINCENT, SHAPE/PD found a way to bring the knowledge NATO Staff require to effectively coordinate Partnership Activities to them. This year, the virtual offering of the course afforded SHAPE/PD and FINCENT the ability to more than double the amount of yearly in-class course participants that typically attend IMPC while maintaining top-notch instruction.
Ultimately, 68 NATO and non-NATO personnel from 36 different countries registered for the IMPC. They attended the course remotely, participating from as far as Norfolk, Virginia to Kabul, Afghanistan in real-time. Learners included civilians and military personnel.