Saint-Cyr hosts a DTEX in collaboration with the Innovation Hub

On May 17, the ‘École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr,’ more commonly known as Saint-Cyr, hosted a Disruptive Technology Experiment (DTEX) event in one of its classrooms in collaboration with the NATO Innovation Hub. Saint-Cyr is France's foremost military academy for officers and was originally established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. The DTEX approach, established by the NATO Innovation Hub, uses wargaming principles to evaluate new ideas and technologies in an operational context. DTEX events at military academies are designed to help cadets improve their problem solving skills and decision making skills. The goal is to train tomorrow’s leaders. 

This was the second time the DTEX event was used in the context of the Academic Alliance, a network of Academic partners from NATO member and partner nations. The first was a pilot event held at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the oldest public senior military college in the United States. The Academic Alliance is an initiative founded and spearheaded by the NATO Innovation Hub (IH) with the support of  the Office of Collaboration with Academia and Industry (OCAI), and the Strategic Issues and Engagements Branch. All three are part of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Headquarters located in Norfolk, Virginia. The Academic Alliance, nicknamed the ‘A Square’, is a network of academic partners from NATO member and partner nations co-founded by Major Bart Jacobs, a staff officer at OCAI, and Mr. Girish Sreevatsan Nandakumar, a Fellow at the Innovation Hub. “The main effort within the OCAI team is to expedite the collaboration with Industry and Academia. The Academic Alliance is an important initiative to boost the ACT and military academia relationship,” said Bart Jacobs.

The collaboration with Saint-Cyr is part of a project that’s exploring how the Innovation Hub’s DTEX program can be brought to classrooms and campuses. During DTEX events, participants ideate, analyze, and test new ideas and technologies that can solve problems for NATO and its nations. During the first pilot event in April 2022, Professor Colonel Atin Basu Chowdhury from VMI’s Economics and Business Department, who serves as VMI’s primary liaison to the Innovation Hub, held the first formal Academic Alliance DTEX event in his classroom. Around a month later, on May 17, Professor Colonel Basu Chowdhury made his classroom available for another DTEX event, this time with French cadets from Saint-Cyr, where he teaches every Summer. 

During this session, Saint-Cyr students were guided by Girish Sreevatsan, who is also the chief architect of the DTEX initiative, on understanding a realistic yet fictional scenario, evaluating several futuristic technological ideas, and deciding which of those ideas were best suited as solutions to the challenges posed in the given scenario. The students were split into two teams. Each team presented its final choices alongside their rationale. Bart Jacobs and Girish Sreevatsan provided feedback and follow-up discussions. The cadets enjoyed the experience and expressed interest in competing with cadets from other nations.