By U.S. Army Europe Public AffairsJune 21, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Military leaders from more than 35 nations from Europe and elsewhere came together this week at the NATO school in Oberammergau, Germany to participate in the annual Combined Training Conference.
The conference is sponsored by Joint Forces Command Brummson, U.S. European Command and U.S. Army Europe and aims to bring European partners together to coordinate training opportunities.
"The Combined Training Conference has become a powerful way for national and NATO trainers to share training ideas and resources to prepare for ISAF," said USAREUR Chief of Training and Exercises, Col. Bill Williams. "In the future, if you want to know how we will get to Connected Forces, as our leaders are directing, you can start here. Smart Training is Connected Forces and that is just what the CTC brings to the table. We are working with the EUCOM and the new Allied LANDCOM staff to take this European training conference to the next level."
With today's budgetary concerns becoming an issue for all nations involved sharing scarce training resources has never been more important, said USAREUR Chief of Multinational Training Division, Col. Andrew Heppelmann.
"The Combined Training Conference is a necessity under the current budget constraints," Heppelmann said. "But it is much more than that. It is truly a win-win event. Partners from across Europe come together to share training opportunities and train together. This reflects a basic tenant; train as you fight. Training with our European partners is fundamentally training with the future coalition. It is hard to believe that a few years ago we spent more money in an effort to replicate a coalition. Now we spend less and literally duplicate the coalition. Every participant in the conference gains from the training."
Heppelmann estimates that approximately 15,000 service members will participate in training events with USAREUR forces as a result of the conference.
"Somewhere around 15,000 soldiers will train with us because of the conference. This number doesn't capture the training that our partners are working amongst themselves. Everyone brings needs and opportunities to the table, and more often than not, solutions are found which are far better than if a country tries to train in isolation," he said.
As European and U.S. forces are still involved in Afghanistan, the nature of the conference continues to have a focus on that theater, ensuring participating nations are ready for challenges presented in the ISAF environment. It also looks ahead at the post ISAF world.
"The conference still focuses on today's fight, and making sure that the coalition training here fully supports the coalition's operations in ISAF. We do however recognize that the ISAF drawdown means there will be a new centerpiece topic in the future. NATO's Connected Forces Initiative- "Train Together to Fight Together" and DOD's European Rotational Force (portions of a CONUS BDE rotating over for 60 days of training) complement each other extremely well. The CTC of the future will focus on getting a more highly trained NATO Reaction Force- of which the US contributes to. It will be a key contributor to NATO readiness and US integration (along with our allies) into NATO capabilities," Heppelmann said.