Mobilisation and readiness
– prepared for the next crisis
Rapidly changing crises, from global pandemic over climate crisis to military threats; establishing mobilisation and readiness system to build-up capabilities is essential to meet the next crisis through engagement of resources cross-domain and cross-national.
Mobilisation and readiness of military capabilities has been a core process for centuries for defence forces. Wars has been prepared through careful mobilisation planning. But since the falling of the Berlin wall mobilisation has lost interest and focus of governments. Crisis like Afghanistan, Mali and the Gulf of Aden were handled efficiently within the standing readiness because the impact of selecting and deploying forces were limited (at least outside the defence) and the timeline relatively open. Build-up capabilities for these engagements have not been that challenging. But what happens if crises do not follow the historical or our “standard” expectation?
In the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2020 (15 January) a pandemic situation ended up as no. 10 on impact and the likelihood not even in top ten! Beginning of February 2020 national European health authorities expected no impact from the large virus break out in Bergamo, Italy. Things can develop far beyond our expectations and wildest fantasy very fast! For the last 15 months the world has been exposed to serious challenges in how crises should be met. How to supply enough ventilators, how to get enough resources on intensive care, how to procure test facilities, how to produce vaccine are just some examples. The list of shortage areas is long.
Just procuring all the resources on the shortage list is both not efficient and often neither possible when the crisis develops. Of course, we could do it before, and we certainly do (or at least did). But we need to do something smarter. To think beyond and into the next crisis even though we do not know what kind it will turn out to be.
And if we utilise the mobilisations systems the switch to the wartime (or crisis scenario) would a challenge itself: how should we conduct massive move of resources? The logistic challenge will even escalate when not included in the mobilisation and readiness system.
Mobilisation must comply to complex scenarios. Not just a war scenario but different scenarios; perhaps even draft scenarios to be completed later when new lessons are learned. The pandemic situation illustrates the need for cross domain thinking. Just focusing military engagements will not be sufficient, even when the conflict is military. Joint operations in NATO and EU engagements illustrates the complexity in cross organisational and cross-national tasks.
Knowledge of availability and condition of capabilities is key information at any engagement, not only in the planning phase but also in the ongoing engagement. But as obvious and evident this is it is also surprising how little knowledge and information that actually flows between domains and nations. Security concerns are just one of more obstacles in the information share. Also problems of standards, integration and updating frequencies are serious challenges in the building of a grand picture. And if no pressure of building the grand picture exists it will obviously not have much attention.
The need for a mobilisation system based on multi scenarios and ability to cross domain capability structuring is necessary to build cross domain and cross national capabilities..
The mobilisation processes need attention to assure systems that can support us efficiently to be prepared for and to meet the next crises, may it be a new pandemic, a natural disaster or military escalation. Better start today than tomorrow.