The Way Ahead

Sept. 21, 2011


By
Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, U.S. Army Europe Commanding General

19th Annual Conference of European Armies
Venice, Italy
Sept. 19-21, 2011 
“The Way Ahead”

Part I

I’m honored to speak to you during this final session, as we summarize our discussions from the last few days, and focus on the way ahead as we prepare for the post-ISAF environment.

As Soldiers, we all believe that actions speak louder than words. 

So I’m going to focus on actions. 

What we’ve done in the past.

What we’re trying to do in U.S. Army Europe right now to continue the momentum we’ve generated over the last ten years in preparing forces for ISAF.

And what I think we might need to do – some ideas, or some suggestions -- to prepare for the post-ISAF environment, and to continue to build on the trust we have earned as coalition members and partners as we ready ourselves for the future. 

Because in coalitions, actions matter most in generating trust. 

I’ll say that again, for emphasis… in coalitions, actions matter most

Part II

We’ve gained much together in the last ten years.

Having served in USAREUR since 2003 – with two deployments to combat from Europe – I’ve seen unbelievable growth and combat experience in our Army…and in many of your armies as well.

The U.S. Army is a learning organization.  I’ve observed that same characteristic in many of your formations as we have improved, grown, and transformed together. 

Our forces are different now compared to what they were before we started fighting side-by-side.
We’ve trained our C2 together in exercises, brought some of our formations together in tactical training, come together to train OMLT and POMLT teams. 

Eighty-five percent of the ISAF force has come from European armies…and every one of those European armies have improved significantly because of combat experience and links with allies.

But these changes are a result of requirements from the current fight, and the lessons have all reflected our actions in a coin environment. 
We have shared several training venues and participated in either bi-lateral or small and ad-hoc multilateral exercises focused on what we would be expected to do in the current fight.

Many of these events took place at our joint multinational training command, or JMTC, at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels.  The place we define as our “crown jewel.”

At JMTC, we have incorporated the latest doctrinal changes as they apply to coin operations; tactics, techniques, and procedures; counter-IED lessons; and new intelligence gathering techniques.

Not just with our U.S. Forces – but with many if not most of our allied partners.

An example:  A few weeks ago I took our Secretary of our Army to Grafenwoehr, and while he was expecting to see U.S. Army forces train, he was very pleased when he saw firsthand the Bulgarians in a C-IED training venue, Georgian forces in a mission readiness exercise, our staff returning from Poland where we had conducted Bagram X, an Italian observer controller giving an after action review to U.S. Forces, and soldiers from several different armies attending our NCO academy.

He was taken aback by the extent and rigor of the multinational training we conduct.

Since 2005, we have included multinational partners in every mission rehearsal exercise we conduct at the joint multinational readiness center.

In April of this year, at a U.S. Brigade mission rehearsal exercise in preparation for an Afghan mission, we had 768 soldiers from Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Bosnia, Slovenia, France, as well as Afghanistan integrated in the training event to prepare for combat.

The same partners those units will see in combat – building trust. 

Since 2005, over 14,000 allied and partner nation personnel have participated in pre-deployment training events.

Let me give you some additional numbers to illustrate the extent of partnership training:

Over 4,000 partner nation personnel from 21 countries have participated in OMLT and POMLT training (about 1/3 of all OMLT/POMLT).

Since last May – May 2010 – more than 300 multinational soldiers from 24 countries have participated in the intelligence training program, and a big part is how to share intel on the battlefield.

In the last eight years, over 900 sergeants from allied and partner nations have attended our NCO academy…the most coming from our partners in Poland.

Part III

All during this period, we’ve learned much about combat, and incorporated these lessons in our training.

We operate in an environment that places a greater emphasis on the contributions of allies, and the increasing role of regional partners.

There are significant changes in how we gather, view, and especially how we share intelligence.  With allies, especially those we may not have had the time to know and understand. 

The proliferation of the number of intelligence platforms, the way we interpret the enemy and his culture, how we use information operations, kinetic and non-kinetic action, how we look at formations – that’s changed, too.

How we share information and conduct battle command, command and control, mission command…always an issue in combat, but made increasingly important and complex because of the speed, increased tempo of operations, those who are on the battlefield, and the addition of more allies into the formations!

How we see enemies:

Those using asymmetric versus conventional (Israeli examples – Hamas, Hezbollah, insurgents)

The influence of non-state and trans-state actors—(terrorists, insurgents, militias, criminals…even mercenaries, as we’ve seen recently in Libya)

Regional threats and hostile nation-states, or maybe better described as hostile nation-state leaders (like Kadhafi, Assad, et al.)

So while the nature of conflict remains the same – it’s still tough, violent, dirty, and filled with friction and fog of war—the conduct of these operations will be more dynamic, unpredictable, diverse, fluid, networked, and constantly evolving. 

As the recent mission in Libya highlights, the European community may be called on to rapidly form and deploy tailored command and control packages and allied or partner forces in a highly compressed timeframe to meet an enemy we might not understand in an environment we might not be prepared for or even expect.

Part IV

Let me go back to my statement:  actions matter most in coalitions.

As the U.S. Army Europe commander, I’m in a position to be the “action arm” of GEN Odierno and the U.S. Army as we prepare for 2020. 
This conference has been all about how we’re approaching a transition point in our strategic priorities. 

Prevailing in the current fight is our main focus–yet the U.S. Army post-ISAF will place a greater emphasis on preventing future conflicts.

And during that transition point, all of us – all of us – will be dealing with governments who are trying to balance domestic and security issues, compounded by shrinking budgets, as the great majority of us are facing either budget cuts for our services, or reduction in our force size.

If forces become smaller, they will need the leverage that strong alliances provide.  Armies that are connected through alliances and partnerships offer their national leaders more options.

As general officers – as leaders of our armies – it’s our job to recognize and then master transitions.

To do that, we ought to have a strategy.

I would suggest that the foundation for the way ahead is to maintain the strategic alliances and partnerships that we have built. 

As ISAF draws down, as some of our forces decrease in size, as we face budget constraints, we must find new ways to continue to develop partnerships through theater security cooperation – exercises, training events, regional vice bilateral partnerships, professional development of officers and noncommissioned officers -- to meet the challenges.  

The battlefield – like our armies - will be very different post-2014. 

As I have said, we will face different enemies, probably with ad hoc alliances, in new locations, with changed forces.

We all agree with this, yet in every conference and seminar I’ve been to lately, it seems we are acknowledging these changes and differences, but we often do not follow with actions to address them.

I’m going to suggest some things that we can do:

We need to continue to exercise together, but perhaps we ought to focus more on a regional approach with multi-lateral versus bi-lateral exercises.  

Several exercises we’ve conducted recently may provide us a glimpse of what may be possible in the future:

In the Ukraine we conducted Rapid Trident, a multinational airborne exercise with participation from 13 partner countries, focusing on building trust and partner capacity.

Saber Strike, in the Baltics allowed Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to cooperate and provide different forces or elements, to save money and shift training.

We need to train together, but in different scenarios:

At Grafenwoehr, we are conducting the 17th year of Combined Endeavor.  A multinational communication and computer network exercise designed to improve information sharing and interoperability.  This year, 39 countries participated as the exercise focused on the emerging cyber threat.
And we’re eagerly preparing for our first full spectrum operations exercise at the joint multinational readiness center in October.   We’re especially excited because it will feature the participation of several partner country battle groups totaling more than 1,200 soldiers.  (Slovakia- 500, Slovenia- 500, United Kingdom- 100, Bulgaria- 20, Poland-120, Romania-6)   

We need to not just train formations, we must train trainers.

At JMTC we have benefitted from the integration of international soldiers into our O/C teams.  We also conduct O/C exchanges to help partner countries develop and improve training capabilities.  We have some already – Italian, German, Polish, Romanian – but we’re ready to accept more!
At our simulation center we conduct training to develop experts in simulations and command and controls systems.  These “master trainers” are able to return to their units and teach systems such as blue force tracker (BFT) and joint conflict and tactical simulation (JCATS).

And we’ve had international instructors teach at our NCO leader’s course.  A partnership effort we should increase to further develop our non-commissioned officer corps. 

We must focus on basics, and find ways to ensure our leaders know how to adapt.

We’re developing a new coalition forces land component command (CFLCC) course for senior officers – colonels and brigadiers -- that will focus on leadership and training our nations’ future leaders to operate as the land component in a joint environment.   

Junior NCO leader training; exchanges of best practices.

Romania has increased its human intelligence (HUMINT) capability and they have used these in Afghanistan and Kosovo.  They took the lead in standing up a NATO HUMINT center of excellence and are regional leaders for HUMINT. 

Through repeated cooperation with USAREUR, Poland has developed its own C-IED training center.  They now teach a baseline course, for their army, and they desire to make this a multi-national course for their regional partners.  This in addition to being the first army to build their own NCO academy, after having hundreds of Polish soldiers attends ours at Grafenwoehr.

Ukraine has been developing a peacekeeping capability and peacekeeping training center.  These efforts have supported Ukrainian deployments to KFOR and U.N. Missions, but there may be an opportunity to expand this capability and make the peacekeeping center more multinational.

What I’ve talked about today are just a few of our efforts that are focused on building partnerships in Europe.  And European forces better prepared to complete their missions.

I firmly believe that if we want….

-- alliances that remain strong in today’s complex environment but more importantly in an uncertain future;

-- nations who can be part of coalitions now and in the future, while simultaneously being able to secure their boundaries and maintain regional security and stability;

-- and military forces that succeed when they are pulled together, sometimes in an ad hoc manner for full spectrum operations;

Then our ability to train and exercise together – to develop adaptable forces, improve interoperability, and capitalize on expertise – is critical to preventing future conflicts. 

Because in coalitions, actions matter most; and you can’t build trust after the conflict begins.

We need to keep building trust.