From the 17th of October to the 4th of November 2011 the Italian city of Vicenza played host to the CEPOL Senior Police Officer Planning and Command Course for Crisis Management Missions (SPOPCOP) Course. The course was organised by the Italian CEPOL Unit and the Carabinieri Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU) with support from Estonia and France. Seventeen senior police officers from 12 EU Member States attended this three week course, one of the longest in the CEPOL catalogue. The ambitious aim of the SPOPCOP is the training of senior police officers, eligible for high level positions within the EU crisis management framework, in areas related to planning and commanding police missions and operations. Thus, CEPOL fulfills its mandate to support EU bodies which are responsible for organising and directing missions within the context of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The general effectiveness of a crisis management mission depends on many factors. Comprehensive planning of all necessary stages of the decision making process (political, strategical and operational) is fundamental. Furthermore, mission members, especially high ranking ones, should know how to manage unfamiliar procedures, to implement mandates and how to be effective in leading foreign colleagues in various scenarios. This course intended to give general guidelines on these topics. In fact, the SPOPCOP course is divided into six modules dealing with a general introduction to EU crisis management, cooperation/coordination between different actors in crisis management, strategic and operational planning of EU missions, leadership, communication and project management. The last two days were dedicated to a Command Post Exercise (CPX) during which participants put into practice their managerial skills.
The idea behind the course was to merge academic and practical experiences. For this purpose different lecturers took the floor: experts from the top planning bodies of the European Union, such as the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM), the Crisis Management Planning Directorate (CMPD) and the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) as well as former Heads of Mission, academics and police trainers. In this way the most relevant topics were discussed and presented from different perspectives. Participants took part actively in the discussions, contributing and creating an active and stimulating environment.
Following the course’s initial days, a positive atmosphere among the participants was created. During the week-ends delegates had the opportunity to visit Vicenza and nearby towns such as Verona and Venice. The visit to Venice was particularly enjoyed thanks to the availability of local Carabinieri command that provided a boat to take the participants to the city center.
During the closing ceremony Vincenzo Giuliani, Carabinieri Major General, praised the course organisation provided by COESPU, an remarked that:
“Subsequent to the Lisbon treaty and its new policies, the future will see the European Union play an ever growing role in international crisis management. More courses like SPOPCOP will be necessary to train senior police officers for effective deployment and management in such cases. In the meantime, a community of professionals that share the same European ethics and commitments to protect and serve less fortunate people living in torn areas of the world is an excellent beginning.”