Staff Ramps up for JTF-East Exercise in Romania
May 29, 2008
CONSTANTA, Romania (Army News Service, May 27, 2008 - Troops from U.S. Army Europe arrived at Mihail Koganiceanu Air Base in Romania last week to serve as the headquarters staff for Joint Task Force East.
The arrival completed the main deployment of the JTF-East headquarters staff, whose mission it is to facilitate training of U.S. active-duty, Reserve and National Guard units, as well as NATO forces, rotating through this year's exercise.
JTF-East is a two-part exercise that is conducted both in Romania and in Bulgaria. Training units will conduct live-fire exercises, weapons qualification, a situational training exercise, combat life saver training, convoy operations, joint patrolling, and other individual Soldier skills.
Although training of units is its primary mission, the JTF-E staff will also participate in humanitarian medical and construction missions in the local community, officials said. They said it gives U.S. personnel an opportunity to work with the local populace.
For some of the younger Soldiers like Pfc. Joshua Doonan and Pfc. Ashley Lewis, this deployment is providing more than just a vocational learning experience. JTF-East is providing a cultural lesson as well.
"I am really looking forward to getting out into the community and learning about the people and their customs," Doonan said.
JTF-E is poised to become a major training platform in Europe., officials said. They said training alongside NATO allies allows U.S. troops to develop techniques, tactics, and procedures that assist tactical units in working together in combat.
The exercise staff provides administrative and logistic support for incoming units, in order to allow them to maximize training time and opportunities. With a staff that fully integrates U.S. and Romanian personnel, JTF-E operations aim to build the interoperability, professional and personal relationships necessary for the success of coalitions
Among the incoming U.S. Soldiers were 17 members of the 529th Military Police Company from Heidelberg Germany. These Soldiers understand the importance of working with their counterparts.
"Our mission here is force protection," said 2nd Lt. Brian Kelly, the 529th platoon leader. "We are here to work alongside our Romanian partners and provide security for the U.S. assets and personnel."
Kelly said that he and his Soldiers are looking forward to learning from as well as helping train their Romanian allies. Kelly expects to find many similarities in the way the two countries operate
"Bottom line is we are all police officers," he said. "We all have similar methods in the way we conduct our business."
JTF-East is a United States European Command initiative designed to strengthen relationships between the United States and Eastern European allies. Following a very successful proof of principle exercise in 2007, JTF-E has maintained and improved its facilities in anticipation of this year's rotation.
According to Sgt.1st Class. Terry Dunlap, company platoon sergeant for the 529th Military Police Company, this is a wonderful opportunity for his younger Soldiers.
"For about 85 percent of our Soldiers this is a first deployment," he said. "This is a great chance for them to work with allies that they may be serving with later on downrange in Iraq."