USAREUR has key role in increasing dwell time for Army units

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
Oct. 26, 2010

Gen. Carter F. Ham (right), USAREUR commanding general, speaks with Lt. Col. Florin
Gen. Carter F. Ham (right), USAREUR commanding general, speaks with Lt. Col. Florin
Agavriloaei of the Romanian Army and Maj. Zbygniew Padyjasek of the Polish
Army Oct. 26 during the International Military Reception at the 2010 Association
of the U.S. Army Exposition in Washington, D.C.Combat brigade Soldiers talk
deployment and resiliency. (Photo by Bruce Anderson)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U. S. Army in Europe, because of the partnerships it builds through multinational training with European land forces, plays an important role in the Army’s efforts to increase dwell time for units and decrease the stress on Soldiers and their Family members.

That was the message Gen. Carter Ham, USAREUR’s commanding general, delivered at the Association of the United States Army Chapter Presidents Dinner Oct. 24.

One of USAREUR’s main missions is providing and facilitating training for European nations that are part of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Afghanistan, Ham said.

ISAF is composed of forces from 47 nations, 39 of which are European nations. Some of their equipment, communication systems and tactics are different than the U.S. Army’s, which Ham said can lead to challenges for our Soldiers operating with these nations. The training USAREUR provides and facilitates for allied and partner-nations helps them operate effectively as part of the multinational ISAF team as soon as they arrive in theater.

Ham said USAREUR is well-suited for this mission, noting that “Training and building relationships between nations' military forces is a mission U.S. Army Europe Soldiers have done since the founding of the command.”

This multinational training does not just benefit USAREUR’s international partners, Ham said.

“Our Soldiers benefit equally from interaction with other nations’ Soldiers as they learn to overcome language barriers and other challenges inherent in working with another country,” he said. “[Those are] skills that pay great dividends downrange in working with Afghan or Iraqi forces.”

Multinational training is developing a generation of young Soldiers who are comfortable working with other cultures, overcoming language barriers and operating as part of a coalition team, Ham said. That generation of Soldiers is important for USAREUR and the entire U.S. Army.

“Our Army needs leaders today and in the future who are agile, innovative, imaginative, culturally astute and comfortable in complex environments,” Ham said.

However, those agile and culturally astute Soldiers and leaders have been at war for nine years, longer than any other war in the history of the United States, Ham said, which is putting great stress on the Soldiers and their Families.

While the Army has developed programs that help with the problem, including the Army Family Covenant and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, the single greatest measure to decrease the stress for Soldiers and their loved ones is shortening deployments and increasing the time between deployments, Ham said.

The goal, Ham said, is to increase dwell time for active duty Soldiers to two years at home for every one year deployed. The goal for National Guard and Army Reserve units is four years of dwell time for every one year of deployment.

Ham acknowledged that reaching the goal will take time, but added that the Army is making steady progress, and said that there are two factors helping reach the goal.

The first factor is the reduction of Soldiers in Iraq from a high of about 188,000 in July 2008 to less than 50,000 today.

“We need to be mindful to not forget those still deployed in Iraq as they seek to build sustainable and capable Iraqi forces,” Ham said.

The second factor helping to reach the dwell time goal is the increasing numbers of coalition and NATO members contributing forces to ISAF and reducing the requirement for U.S. forces, Ham said.

“Every allied Soldier who goes is one less U.S. Soldier [needed in ISAF],” Ham said.

That is where the great training partnership between USAREUR forces and allies and partners pays off, Ham said, giving examples of the multinational training USAREUR provides and facilitates.

The Patriots to Poland program is an ongoing series of training exercises conducted in Poland with the goal of improving both Polish and U.S. proficiency in air defense operations, Ham said.

European forces are habitually included in Mission Rehearsal Exercises for USAREUR units, replicating the complexity of coalition operations in Afghanistan, Ham said.

Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams, or OMLTs, serve as trainers and mentors for the Afghan security forces, increasing their ability to operate independently, Ham said. The teams are often formed under the umbrella of the National Guard State Partnership Program.

The partnership program pairs the National Guard forces of a U.S. state with those of another nation in a habitual relationship, Ham said.

The OMLTs train together at the Joint Multinational Training Command and in the partner nation, often facilitated by JMTC Soldiers and training technology.

“They train together, deploy together and forge the bonds of trust that exist only amongst warriors who have experienced shared sacrifice,” Ham said.

NATO forces also conduct Counter-Improvised Explosive Device, or C-IED, training at JMTC. The training, recently expanded at the direction of the Secretary of Defense to include an increased number of ISAF partners, Ham said, standardizes C-IED operations across NATO and coalition forces.

That leads to common operating procedures, better interoperability, and greater security among ISAF forces, Ham said.