NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria (April 1, 2014) -- Soldiers and civilians from the 7th Civil Support Command, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, along with hundreds of additional participants from the United States, Bulgaria and ten other NATO countries, officially marked the beginning of a multinational exercise designed to test the capabilities of allied nations in response to real-world emergencies, here, yesterday.
Operation Saber Guardian 14 is an exercise intended to prepare countries to assist one another, as requested, during potential humanitarian assistance or disaster response missions.
"The whole idea is to be able to work together as a coalition," said Brig. Gen. Paul M. Benenati, the commanding general of the 7th Civil Support Command, or CSC, and the exercise's Joint Task Force -- Consequence Management. "Every one of the nations has different kinds of strengths that they bring forward."
"As long as we can start working together and identify who has what strengths in a particular area and by bringing a team together it then becomes a single European team that works towards whatever the solution set is," Benenati added.
Working at a rapidly set-up operations center at the Novo Selo Training Area, the 7th CSC's JTF-CM team is using Saber Guardian to test its Mission Command capabilities for responding to potential foreign consequence management missions in the European Command areas of responsibility.
"The 7th CSC and the 21st TSC have become the core of [JTF-CM] for [U.S. European Command] and, in the event of one of these situations, either a disaster response, humanitarian assistance or a consequence management incident, the joint task force could be activated to provide mission command for any forces that would support a host nation with that activity," said Benenati.
"The importance of Saber Guardian is to ensure that every element can come together and work together to assist in a crisis," said Master Sgt. Doretha Moore, the deployment non-commissioned officer in charge for the 7th CSC and a native of Sunflower, Miss. "We're here to assist in humanitarian aid and to ensure that all of the services can provide some type of assistance to the government and people we're helping."
Saber Guardian will test participating nations' ability to work together in order to successfully complete various scenarios and command tasks through coordination, cooperation and communication.
As members of the 7th CSC hone their skills during Saber Guardian, service members from their partner nations are also learning how to operate in a multi-national environment.
"I believe our partner nations are really learning so much from us, and we are learning from them," said Moore. "We have formed a relationship that will allow us to call on each other at any time if we run into any difficulties."
Being centrally located in Europe puts the 7th CSC in the best possible position to deploy to a crisis in a timely manner.
"The thing with the 7th CSC is that we're here in Europe, and we have the opportunity to work with our partners," said Col. Paul Rosewitz, the director of operations for the 7th CSC. "We're in multiple locations, working with our partners in building our capacity to interact with them throughout our area of operations."
By working together now in a variety of simulated situations, participating counties will be better prepared to complete real-world missions should they arise in the future.
"Disaster response operations are immediate response types of events," said Benenati. "If an incident happens today, the whole idea is being able to save lives, to minimize loss, to minimize damage and then restore essential infrastructure so that the nation can then take it back over themselves."
Above all, it's the service members and civilians of the 7th CSC and participating units and nations that are the key to the successful completion of Saber Guardian.
"These Soldiers are doing an absolutely unbelievable job," said Benenati. "They are highly motivated to do this thing; they're trained and they are professional."