Conference of Commandants

Resilience in Education

Resilience in Education

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Resilience is the ability to react flexibly to unexpected events and to not give up despite setbacks. How to ensure resilience in the education and training of senior military personnel is the topic of this year’s Conference of Commandants. 

Women and men, civilian as well as military, engage in lively conversations

Guests included commanders from high-ranking military academies and delegations from partner nations

Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann

Resilience is a quality that is of particular importance in the military. Soldiers must be able to react quickly to changing situations. This is part of their ‘core business’. They often need to adapt plans to a new situation at short notice. One such situation, the COVID-19Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic, has shed light on how resilient our education systems are. Suddenly, face-to-face classes were no longer possible – and the military institutions reacted quickly, immediately switching to digital teaching and learning formats. The capabilities in terms of reaction, adaptation and implementation in this example are proof that the military is resilient. 

Commander of the NATO Defense College signs a guestbook
Zitat Lieutenant -General Olivier Rittimann, Commandant NATO Defense College Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann
“This conference offers a unique forum in which allies and partners from across a wide and diverse collection of academic and education institutions can come together to discuss contemporary and future issues that affect all of us”

A set of professional, social and personal skills

Resilience is influenced by a variety of factors such as personality, environmental factors and personal experience. Consequently, the education and training of military leaders must focus on personality development just as much as on professional expertise and social skills. One’s personal experience grows almost by itself; it grows with each new task and each assignment. Nevertheless, the aspect of learning does play a significant role even with experienced staff officers. And an open mind that is solution-oriented, creative and enduring can be shaped by educational institutions, too. 

International audience sits in the lecture hall and looks towards the lecture

Various expert lecturers give presentations on resilience. Afterwards the contents are discussed in the plenum

Bundeswehr/ Katharina Roggmann

Visionary thinking and teaching

Another important aspect of resilience in the education of military leaders is professional expertise. This includes preparing for and coping with unknown future scenarios such as cyber attacks. During the Conference of Commandants, Lieutenant Colonel (GSGesetzliche Schutzaufgaben) Thorsten Kodalle from the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College presented a gaming-based learning approach that helps to increase individual resilience in the field of cyber security. He pointed out that, for instance, it is well known that changing one’s passwords on a regular basis is an effective prevention against cyber attacks, and yet only very few people actually do so. Against this backdrop, Lieutenant Colonel Kodalle has developed a serious game for cyber security. It is a card game that does not only convey knowledge about the risks in cyberspace, but also gets players to actually practice cyber hygiene on their private mobile phones, an aspect which is often neglected.

Cyber Resilience Card Game

Lieutenant Colonel Kodalle introduced the Cyber Resilience Card Game to the conference participants and then conducted an afternoon game session with all in all 20 international players. ‘Many other approaches just increase people’s awareness but do little in terms of stimulating a change in their individual behaviour. People who have played this game are more resilient than they were before. This could mean, for instance, that they activate the two-factor authentication feature on their Amazon or Facebook accounts’, Lieutenant Colonel Kodalle explains.

A hand arranges playing cards

The "Cyber Resilience Card Game" was created by Lieutenant Colonel Kodalle in collaboration with course participants

Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann
Kodalle looks at the playing field of a playgroup. The participants ask him something

Lieutenant Colonel Kodalle helps the participants play the serious game

Bundeswehr / Katharina Roggmann

Learning by doing

According to him, playing a game with others has a greater learning effect and is more successful than a purely theoretical presentation during a lecture or in a film: ‘Whenever learners can become active and approach contents in a hands-on manner, they develop a better understanding of the subject-matters conveyed’. With his presentation during the Conference of Commandants, Lieutenant Colonel Thorsten Kodalle represented the educational activities of the highest-level training institution of the Bundeswehr to an international audience. Additional presentations were given by NATO Headquarters and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) on resilience, from NATO and EU perspectives respectively. The Baltic Defense Academy, represented by Ambassador Shota Gvineria, spoke on "Cyber Security."

by Jana Stößer  email

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