Exercise Viking is a training platform designed to prepare civilian, military and police personnel for future deployments in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. As such, the Swedish Ministry of Defense, in partnership with the US Department of Defense, plans and conducts the exercise approximately every three years. Multidimensional, multifunctional and multinational in nature, it is the largest exercise of its type in the world.
The goal of Viking 22 is to train and educate participants – civilians, military and police – to meet the challenges of responding to present and future multidimensional crises, as well as peacekeeping operations.
The concept of Exercise Viking was presented to the 50th Anniversary Conference of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 as a Swedish/American initiative. As such, the exercise was developed and implemented under NATO’s “Spirit of Partnership for Peace” strategic initiative and took place in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 , 2011, 2014, 2018 and from March 28 to April 7, 2022.
Importantly, Exercise Viking facilitates the building of a wider network among participants: this year, more than 60 countries and international organizations participated.
Exercise Viking 22 used the Northern Continent scenario, which provided versatility and greater realism to train for today’s complex international interventions, including multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping operations, missions European Union (EU) security and defense policies and NATO crisis response operations.
Law and peacekeeping
The Northern Continent scenario countries were fictitious and were configured to reflect states facing multiple security challenges. Regional instability in the form of civil wars and humanitarian crises marked the scenario. Weak states were under pressure to maintain public order and their respective territorial integrity in the face of internal disagreements and growing separatist movements.
The planned scenario was intended to provide challenges and opportunities for the deployment of UN, NATO and EU operations and missions, as well as other regional and international governmental and non-governmental actors. It also provided a complex and realistic environment for the deployment of combined operations and their logistical challenges.
The exercise specifically focused on the situation in two countries in the northern continent and was divided into two branches (both falling under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter):
– The situation in the Southland country was oriented towards the development of a peacekeeping mission of the peace enforcement type under the responsibility of NATO.
– The situation of the Midland country was designed to develop a peacekeeping mission of the United Nations peacekeeping type.
The United Nations Mission in Midland (UNMIM) simulated the deployment of a multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping mission. Its military component divided the area of operations into two sectors, each under the command of a multinational brigade. The North Sector was under the responsibility of Qatar and the South under the responsibility of Brazil. A General Officer of the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) served as the Force Commander of the military component of MINUM.
UNMIM represented an excellent opportunity to promote greater integration between the civilian, military and police components. This relationship is the focal point that characterizes the multidimensional concept of a mission for peace.
Brazilian and Latin American participation
The Brazilian site was the Remote Point, which represented a multinational brigade, under the command of General EB, responsible for the southern sector of the UNMIM area of operations. Brazil took advantage of its successful experience of hosting a Remote Point – the only one outside the European axis – during the 2018 edition.
Sítio Brasil was under the Ministry of Defense, while its overall direction was with the EB, through the Land Operations Command (COTER, in Portuguese), in the city of Brasilia. The Brazilian site employed a total of 276 people. In addition to these personnel, FAB officers served in the Combined Air Operations Center, the Joint Air Component, and the Viking 22 Assessment Cell, based in Sweden.
Sítio Brasil was made up of soldiers from the Brazilian Navy, Brazilian Army and Brazilian Air Force, military police officers from five Brazilian states, civilian representatives from the UN in Brazil and the Brazilian Peace Operations Research Network (REBRAPAZ, in Portuguese), which brings together military and civilian higher education institutions. In addition, military personnel from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay also participated, representing the Latin American Association of Training Centers for Peacekeeping Missions (ALCOPAZ, in Spanish).
The presence of representatives of ALCOPAZ (an entity to which Brazil is also a signatory) was of great importance for the exercise, as it represented an excellent opportunity to bring together the Latin American countries involved in peacekeeping missions of the United Nations for the Viking exercise.
Topics covered during the exercise were cyber defence, gender policy, human rights, protection of civilians, asylum procedures, humanitarian assistance, coordination and cooperation, countermeasures the action of irregular forces and organized crime and the prevention of sexual violence in conflicts. These issues were addressed through simulated events and incidents, presented by exercise management, which were passed on to members of the Multinational Brigade.
Observers and mentors from exercise management assessed and implemented proposed solutions, based on expected actions for each simulated incident. The activities helped to learn lessons and improve procedures for future exercises.