Perry Center Conducts Its First Ever Wholly Online Course

Colombia Online Seminar Masthead
 
June 08, 2020

The Perry Center conducted an online Colombian Joint and Inter-Agency Course from May 5-28, 2020. Originally scheduled to take place at the Perry Center, the course transitioned to an online venue due to COVID 19-related restrictions. This resulted in the Perry Center’s implementation of its first long-form virtual course, which brought together 62 officials from across the Colombian Armed Forces, National Police, and intergency (Social Development, Justice, and Land Reform, among others). It was inaugurated on May 5 by Colombian President Ivan Duque, who highlighted the importance of Colombia’s Future Zones initiative and the value of partnering with the Perry Center.

The Colombian Presidency requested the course to support its interagency teams implementing the Future Zones initiative, in which joint and interagency task forces are assigned to five areas in Colombia high in criminality, violence, and illicit economies and low on governance. The objective of the Future Zones initiative is to bring governance to those areas during the remainder of Ivan Duque's term of office. The multidimensional nature of the challenge requires whole-of-government solutions to maximize interagency coordination and minimize inefficiencies.

The purpose of the course was to share best practices from the United States, Colombia, Australia, and Spain.  Active and retired Generals, former Ambassadors, heads of agencies, and academic subject matter experts shared their points of view. Then, to reinforce the ideas being shared, the participants were organized into joint and interagency teams and run through a series of tabletop exercises where they developed joint and interagency plans to deal with a series of realistic contingencies that may present themselves in the Future Zones. This included adaptive threats, rampant illicit economies, foreign refugees, pandemic, and post-pandemic scenarios

This first-ever long-form virtual course ran for more than 48 hours online and approximately 24 hours offline, and it was successful due to the dedicated support of the Perry Center faculty, IT team and operations staff. The last day of the course consisted of a final table-top exercise. It was clear from the presentations that the teams had greatly improved their planning skills in terms of identifying priorities, assigning budgets, and providing measures of effectiveness. It was also evident that interagency solutions had become a major feature of every proposed solution. The course concluded with a presentation by the Colombian National Security Adviser emphasizing the importance of the task ahead and the courses' contribution to that work.