"We should train together and study together"
Petteri Blomvall is a Lieutenant Commander in the Finnish Coast Guard and is studying the second year of officer training at the Finnish National Defence University in Helsinki. Here he talks about his experiences of being part of TEJO 23.
Petteri Blomvall was one of a total of 320 Swedish and Finnish students who participated when Tejo 23 - Training Event Joint Operations - was organised as a joint exercise between the Swedish and Finnish Defence Universities.
Following a week of preparatory workshops and lectures, he told us about the war-gaming and the table-top exercise that took place during the second week. His role was to serve as deputy group leader in his planning team.
"My task, together with our group manager Max, was to support our group and try to keep the everything running. In the group, we had an amazing amount of experience from different military branches and perspectives, so we took turns within the group to facilitate the planning processes and the group work."
"Perfectionism is the enemy of the good"
Petteri Blomvall believes that all work with staff should be done in a balance between strict control and organic, distributed leadership. What did you find the most challenging?
"Actually, the most challenging thing was to keep up with the pace when new tasks came in, and decide how good the final position was reasonable to aim for. When time is limited, perfectionism is the enemy of the good: You have to compromise on your goals – going for the perfect takes too long."
He explains that another challenge is to communicate the thinking to the group and reach consensus quickly enough, so that the group can start pulling in the same direction.
Professional officers and accomplished teachers
He found it interesting to follow and observe how group dynamics developed during this rather long exercise – and reflect on his role in that dynamic.
"I really appreciated the level of knowledge that the teachers of the Swedish Defence University's possessed. I also greatly appreciated the level of professionalism among the Swedish officers I got to interact with. Our mind set and motivation in Scandinavia is uniform, and it is always a pleasure to work with professionals."
Our attitude and motivation in Scandinavia is uniform, and it is always a pleasure to work with professionals.
Appreciated the officers' mess and reflection
Petteri Blomvall also enjoyed seeing some students realise the potential and experience they already possessed, and how they took a leading role in some of the group tasks.
"I hope it built the confidence of everyone to trust the knowledge they already possess at this point in their careers."
"Of course, it was also fun to have the opportunity to once in a while during the exercise just sit in the Officers’ Mess after a long day and discuss and reflect upon all the experiences."
I think our military forces have a lot of positive overlap and great capabilities that are best utilized if we plan and train together.
Added value in collaboration
He believes that there is great value in working together to make the Baltic Sea region and Scandinavia safer.
"We should train together and study together. An exercise like this also provides an opportunity to be familiar with combined, multinational staff – so that has value for both of us I think, in joining NATO."
And the social aspect – what was it like to get to know your Swedish colleagues?
"As I said, we share similar motivation, culture and knowledge of each other, so it feels as if we are able to meet and get to work almost straight away. I think our militaries have a lot of positive overlap and a lot of capabilities that are best used when planned and trained together."
What is your most important experience from TEJO 23?
"I think that ultimately the most important thing is the experience of surviving this rapid tempo together while still having a good time and learning. It will build our mutual confidence to solve problems together and – if needed – to win together."
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