20th LOAC Competition for Military Academies

After having arranged last year’s edition online due to the pandemic, it is with great pleasure that the Military Department could host the 20th edition of the distinguished IHL Competition for Military Academies back at the Institute from 21th – 25th March 2022.

Brig. Gen. Karl Edlinger and LTC. Shawn McKelvy, the co-directors of the competition welcomed 62 cadets coming from 15 Military Academies from Italy, France, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Georgia, United Kingdom, and USA. This year’s event saw also the first participation of one team from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.

The Military Academy Cadets were introduced to the Law of Armed Conflict and asked to build an international understanding not only of the legal, but also moral aspects of warfare among each other as those that will shortly be joining the brother- and sisterhood of arms.

An initial phase of interactive lectures on various aspects of IHL was followed by practical sessions where the participants were split up into multi-national mixed teams to work on practical cases of relevance to the application of IHL in different operational scenarios. The mixed teams were dispersed throughout four separate Joint Operation Commands (JOCs). As “JOC LEGADs,” they faced challenging legal questions based on a fictitious yet realistic armed conflict scenario and had to brief their JOC-Leaders: LTC Gretchen Davenport (USA), LTC Blake Williams (USA) from the IIHL, Lt. Col. Alexander Fryatt (UK) and Col. Bruce Gray (UK). The 8 judges evaluated the cadets as individuals and teams based on their knowledge of LOAC, communication, teamwork, and practical guidance. This year’s judges panel was composed by: Prof. Francoise Hampson (United Kingdom), Captain (N) Jean-Emmanuel Perrin (France), Lt. Gen. Giorgio Battisti (Italy), Maj. Gen. Salvatore Lato (Italy), Col. John Spierin (Ireland), Brig. Gen. Jan Peter Spijk (Netherlands), Col. Robert James (USA) and Col. Carl Marchand (Switzerland).

The closing and award ceremony was led by Col. Mark Dakers, the Director of the Military Department, as well as the two co-directors of the Competition and the IIHL President, Prof Edoardo Greppi. Traditionally, all the Cadets and their Team Leaders had to elect either an individual cadet, Academy, or mixed team who during the Competition most embodies the “Spirit of Sanremo”. The prize this year was assigned to the Swiss Team, the Militärakademie an der ETH Zürich.

David McDonald (Westpoint), Alec Lay (US Naval Academy) and Iris Bjørnstad (Norway Air Force) earned first place honours in the Best Mixed Team category. The 2nd place was awarded to David McBain (US The Citadel) and Jelle Van den Hoven (Netherlands Royal Military Academy). The two 3rd places were awarded to Grant Brooker (US Naval Academy) and Eugenio Pedron (Italy Scuola di Applicazione), as well as to Walker Harnly (US Coast Guard Academy) and Willem Blom (Netherlands Royal Military Academy). Also the 5th place saw two mixed teams victorious: Isabella Regine (US Westpoint), Tomas Kyte (US The Citadel) and Alessandro Trombini (Switzerland Militärakademie ETH Zürich), as well as Gregory Mann (UK Sandhurst) and Elise Roeynstrand (Norway Naval Academy).

Finally, Brennan Suffern (US Coast Guard Academy), Meline Friedland (US Westpoint) and Caroline Finley (US Naval Academy) respectively earned first place honours as Best Cadets. The 4th place was awarded to David Gray (US Air Force Academy), whereas Quentin Herve (France Saint Cyr) captured the 5th place.

Watch the video of the 20th Competition: