(SUFFOLK, Va. - Jan. 9, 2009) -- U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) begins a mission rehearsal exercise (MRX) at the Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) here tomorrow to prepare a joint task force headquarters to assume responsibility for operations in the Horn of Africa.

To provide an additional layer of realism. USAFRICOM and the Southern European Task Force (SETAF) in Longare, Italy, also will lend their expertise to the MRX during their 'Lion Focus' exercise.

SETAF is going to stand up and engage from there, because they're acting as they would in the real world. They're the lead for the NEO, the nonevacuation operation that we're going to run starting as a key part of the exercise, explained Earl Eaddy, the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM) desk lead planner at the JWFC.

"SETAF will stand up in Italy and they will play as if they are preparing to go to the Horn of Africa during the concurrent planning with the CJTF here in Suffolk. Doing all of the required coordination, all of the required information exchange using all of the standard processes and tools that they would use in a real world."

'Lion Focus,' the first SETAF exercise since transforming to U.S. Army Africa, is a two-week exercise to prepare for SETAF deployments to Africa in support of Africa Command missions. The exercise is being held at two locations in Italy at Longare and Aviano Air Base, and at the Joint War Fighting Center in Norfolk, Va. It allows SETAF to improve organizational readiness, exercise staff-planning capabilities and rehearse actions for contingency deployments, while simultaineously maintaining command oversight of Army operations on the continent.

Mission and problem sets highlight the six-day event designed to prepare the Standing Naval Command Element (SNCE) staff and augmentees as they transition to replace current members of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

Training will include several scenarios the task force might encounter during their deployment, from routine operations to crisis events.

Earl Eaddy, the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM) desk lead planner at the JWFC, explains what these events may look like.

"The problem sets may include a non-evacuation operation that may occur in a developing context like the Horn of Africa, a scenario that would require forces to retrieve U.S. and third party nationals out of a particular situation or a humanitarian assistance disaster relief problem set such as flooding in the Horn of Africa," Eaddy said.

The ability to replicate these mission and problem sets and adjust the scenarios to accommodate real- world events will be critical to the overall effectiveness of the exercise.

As part of the MRX process, the, SNCE also participated in pre-exercise events that include forums, planning conferences, academics on how JTF staffs operate, and country coordination training.

"We bring a whole host of subject matter experts from DoD, the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Committee of the Red Cross, all of those perspectives come together to share basic information about what it is to be in the Horn of Africa doing security and stability type operations," Eaddy said.

The current CJTF-HOA commander and his staff also will participate in the MRX by sharing in-theater experience and insights on the mission they acquired during their time in the area of operations.

"This year, probably in a very exceptional way, [Navy Rear Adm. Philip Greene, current CJTF-HOA commander] has really lent his staff to making this mission rehearsal program excellent," Eaddy stated.

The final component of the UE MRX program is a staff assistance visit conducted in theater after transfer of authority. Within months of assuming responsibility in theater, the CJTF commander uses the staff assistance visit as a tool for continued development of his staff and commanders by identifying focus areas for observer-trainers to study. Observer-trainers then will assist through "over the shoulder", non-intrusive observations, analysis, and training.

Additionally, these visits allow JWFC personnel to adjust training rapidly to match changing conditions the JTF commander faces.

Page last updated Tue January 13th, 2009 at 13:54