A Student’s Perspective of the MEOPC Course
In October 2013, 2Lt Irvine and I both travelled to the NATO Military Engineering Centre of Excellence, to take part in the Military Engineering Operations and Planning Course (MEOPC). The course aim is to train its students on military engineering concepts, in support of battalion and company level planning, to better prepare them for duty in a combined, deployed environment. The students came from all over NATO, and the course we attended boasted students from eleven different Nations, including Finland who were invited as a guest nation as they are not yet members of NATO.
By Lt Laurie Hams (GBR A),
Troop Commander, 52 Armd Engr Sqn
The course is structured with lectures from the staff, who come from across the member countries, followed by syndicate work and presentations based on the lectures. The syndicate work particularly interesting as it gave a good insight into how the other nations operate and to what levels they train to across a range of military engineering skills. Emphasis was put on working towards joint solutions, using NATO’s own doctrine as opposed to that of your own nation, in order to replicate working in a combined environment. All of the work and lectures took place in English, and it was impressive to see the quality of work and presentations that many of the other students managed to deliver in what was their second language. It certainly gave me a lot of confidence to know that in a time of growing combined operations, communication between the nations does not seem to be a major stumbling block.
The centre itself is based in Ingolstadt, a historic city in Bavaria, located approximately 50 miles north of Munich. Being so close to Munich meant that the course included a tour of Munich, which focused on Hitler’s rise to power and WWII. As well as being educational and interesting, it formed one of the three social events on the course, which gave an extra opportunity to get to know many of the other students in a social environment. It was during the social events that it became apparent just how varied the experiences of all of the students had been; with some having deployed on many operations, and some on none at all (2Lt Irvine!).
I can thoroughly recommend applying to take part in any of the courses that the NATO MilEng COE offer, as it will undoubtedly prove to be both an educational and enjoyable experience.