U.S. Army Europe Soldiers join multinational forces for predeployment exercise in Norway

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
June 25, 2010

Reporters interview Col. Keith Bean of V Corps’ Fire Support Element June 21 during a media engagement training scenario that was part of a two-week Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway designed to prepare servicemembers from several allied nations for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Bean served as the director of the combined joint operations center that was the focal point for the more than 800 NATO servicemembers and members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police who participated in the MRE. (French Army photo by Staff Sgt. Romain Beaulinette)
Reporters interview Col. Keith Bean of V Corps’ Fire Support Element June 21 during a media engagement training scenario that was part of a two-week Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway designed to prepare servicemembers from several allied nations for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Bean served as the director of the combined joint operations center that was the focal point for the more than 800 NATO servicemembers and members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police who participated in the MRE. (French Army photo by Staff Sgt. Romain Beaulinette)

STAVANGER, Norway -- Soldiers from the headquarters element of U.S. Army Europe’s V Corps were among more than 800 NATO servicemembers from Norway, France, Germany and other allied nations who participated in a combined Mission Rehearsal Exercise here, June 13-24.

The exercise was the last training session of several conducted by the allied forces over a span of months in preparation for their July deployment in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The MRE took place at the Joint Warfare Centre on the Ulsnes Training Area four kilometer north of Stavanger.

The training consisted of four days of electronic working practices, a session in functional areas training, and one week of battlestaff drills. The training was taught in a “crawl, walk, run” format designed to help the participating servicemembers prepare for the challenges they will face in their assigned functional areas during deployment.

“The first day we start the battle drills with about 30 percent of activity, and now we working at 100 percent,” said Sgt. Briffault Anthony of the French Army’s Military Hospital Logouest, near the conclusion of the training.

This exercise was designed to familiarize the deploying servicemembers with the jobs they will take on during the 12-month combat tour, to facilitate a smooth transaction between those troops and the forces they are replacing in Afghanistan.

“I think this exercise is real helpful, because in this training we had to base our decisions in real scenarios or situations that happened in Afghanistan,” said Briffault.

The exercise here is designed to replicate the mission in Afghanistan, a NATO-run operation requiring forces from several allied nations with different doctrine to operate and maneuver in concert. Members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police participated as well.

“The exercise is focused on communications between different countries, and operations and procedures used by U.S. and NATO forces,” said Lt. Gen. Wolfgang Korte of the German Army, the Joint Warfare Centre commander.

Personnel currently deployed with the International Security and Assistance Force and the ISAF Joint Command Headquarters in Afghanistan took part in the exercise here to provide MRE participants with realistic feedback and real-world information on current operations in Afghanistan.

The training center set up a simulated operations center similar to the Combined Joint Operation Center the deploying servicemembers will operate in Afghanistan. Teams composed of troops from a mix of allied nations manned the center’s individual operating cells and had to react to complex exercise scenarios and operations as if they were doing their actual jobs in Afghanistan.

“The operation at CJOC was difficult at first, since I did not know who all the players were and what their role was. So being in this environment helped me to learn that.” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Cheyenne Patel, a V Corps medical operations officer. “As far as working with the different nations, I feel like they have been the most patient with us, and have worked very hard in communicating with us,” she said.

NATO personnel stationed at the JWC served as trainers and provided logistical and technical support for the exercise.

During the MRE the multinational participants worked together to build camaraderie, trust and the working relationships and skills they will need to be successful in Afghanistan.

“My comrade from France has been fun to work with,” said Patel. “There was no difficulty or conflicts, since we both arrived here with the need to learn our jobs and set aside previous experiences and training knowing that this would be a joint environment,” she said.

Operations in Afghanistan are focused on supporting a legitimate government while maintaining security and building partnerships among NATO and Afghan forces and the Afghan people.