During a recently completed exercise, U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) helped prepare soldiers from the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team , Baumholder, Germany, and joint and coalition partners from eight nations for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
By Casey E. Bain
(HOHENFELS, Germany - Nov. 8, 2010) - Soldiers from the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Baumholder, Germany, and joint and coalition partners from eight nations completed a mission rehearsal exercise (MRE) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) here recently to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
This capstone training event for the 170th IBCT included support from the U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE) Warrior Preparation Center and U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT), according to senior leaders at JMRC.
"The work done by JFIIT, USJFCOM and USAFE provided us additional capabilities and allowed us to do things like (provide) continuous virtual unmanned aircraft systems and close air support (CAS), even if we didn't have those assets flying live here," said Army Col. John Spiszer, commander, JMRC. "That's a significant advantage for the units training here, and when you integrate the multinational forces into the mix, it's a real good situation and separates us from the other training centers."
More than 4,000 participants from all four U.S. military services and coalition partners from Albania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia participated in this three-week long exercise.
"The JMRC, USAFE, and USJFCOM team are great examples of how we can integrate our coalition partners into a first-class training environment that benefits the entire team," said Marine Corps Maj. Kevin Moody, JFIIT's JMRC lead. "This training will help the entire fires team shorten their learning curve and will improve the integration of coalition assets so the ground commander can more efficiently leverage all available capabilities in Afghanistan."
The exercise integrated a variety of joint enablers to replicate resources the BCT commander will have to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
"The stated mission of the Taliban is to defeat NATO and kick NATO out of Afghanistan," said Army Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commander, Joint Multinational Training Command, Grafenwoehr, Germany. "What we're doing is preparing our units, as well as our coalition partners, for NATO operations in Afghanistan. No other combat training center is doing that. Helping us accomplish that are our joint enablers, like JFIIT. I can't think of a single joint enabler that we have not been able to employ; they're all absolutely essential."
"Our primary mission is to assist the command in their efforts to achieve a joint environment for each rotational unit that comes here to train," said Ervin Cade, a contractor supporting USJFCOM's Joint National Training Capability Support Element, Hohenfels, Germany. "The goal is to provide JMRC with joint enablers like JFIIT, Special Operations Forces elements, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, and others to create an accurate and realistic training environment that will foster greater integration and understanding between joint and multinational partners before they deploy. Ultimately, it makes us a better combined team and will save lives in the process."
JFIIT integrated several joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (JISR) assets to facilitate the joint fires targeting process during the exercise.
"Without the support from JFIIT, we couldn't do our mission of integrating CAS training for USAFE into the Army's MRE at JMRC," said Air Force Lt. Col. Scotty Briscoe, commander, Detachment 2, Warrior Preparation Center in Hohenfels. "As the tactical level arm of USAFE, our goal is to support the Air Support Operations Squadrons (ASOS) that train here so they can better integrate and support the ground scheme of maneuver just as they will when they're deployed."
"These joint assets help round us out and provide crucial resources that we couldn't otherwise provide to the training audience," said Army Maj. Sherman Watson, plans chief, JMRC. "Our goal is to replicate the operational environment from in-theater so the rotational training unit learns how to leverage those capabilities before they actually deploy. The joint fires training and JISR integration is an important part of what we're providing to both U.S. and multinational units that come here to train."
Providing a realistic and challenging multinational training environment is just one of the unique advantages to training at JMRC, according to participants at the exercise.
"The training here has been spot on," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Philip White, Apache attack helicopter pilot from 3-159 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Ansbach, Germany. "The opportunity to train at a world-class facility with so many joint and coalition partners has been incredible. I think we're all learning a lot of valuable lessons from each other and that will make us a better team when we deploy."
I've been impressed with many of our multinational partners that are here training with us," especially the German joint fires observers," said White "They're as good as I've seen and I think we mesh our skills together quite well."
"Our ability to integrate JISR assets into our targeting process has been superb," said Army Capt. Jamen Miller, intelligence officer, 2-18 Infantry Battalion, 170th IBCT, Baumholder, Germany. "This is the first time that many of us have had the opportunity to work with many of these enablers that we'll see once we're deployed. This training will absolutely benefit the entire unit."
"The training at JMRC has been very useful," said Polish Special Forces Warrant Officer C. Charles, joint terminal attack controller (JTAC). "The familiarization training that we receive by working with many of our key partners is valuable and will be important to the speed in which we can successfully integrate together once we're in Afghanistan."
Enhancing air-ground integration and CAS skills of both U.S. and multinational participants were some of the benefits of the exercise.
"The training here is about combined fires not just joint fires," added Moody. "The unique nature of this training center is that it provides exceptional air-to-ground training for the entire joint and multinational team that accurately replicates what is occurring in theater."
According to senior leaders, the ability to forge important relationships with both joint and multinational partners is a strength the command will build on to enhance training at JMRC for the foreseeable future.
"We work with virtually all the partner contributing nations in Europe and stretching into Central Asia, Georgia, and a lot of the Eastern European countries, like Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia," Spiszer added. "We've got a great joint and multinational team that encompasses so many important enablers. Together, we create a more realistic training environment which translates into greater success downrange where it matters most."