KRANJ, Slovenia - Allied and partner defense logistics experts serving on the National Territorial Commanders' Committee steering committee met March 23-26 to discuss issues, challenges and opportunities in shaping host nation support logistics, which help multinational forces maintain operational readiness and security requirements across the region.

The forum provided a collaborative framework for members to review host nation support capabilities and processes and to consider opportunities for streamlining planning and coordination procedures. Participants shared best practices to better meet current and future challenges in order to improve NATO and bilateral efforts to execute HNS.

"HNS is critical to operational sustainment and theater distribution," said John Kizler, chief of internal logistics and HNS at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "Networked cooperation is vital to help preserve host national resources. The NTCC helps provide our command with a broader range of options to execute core missions in setting the theater and sustainment distribution."

Established in 1986, the NTCC is comprised of more than 21 senior military logistics commanders and defense representatives from NATO, the European Union and regional allies and partners. The committee's mission is to streamline HNS coordination and improve support processes to allow for rapid response to civil disaster relief and military crisis operations throughout Europe.

HNS plays a critical role in sustaining military operational readiness. It is a complicated process that requires detailed planning and coordination.

According to Col. Barry Diehl, the 21st TSC's deputy commanding officer, relationships developed among NTCC members help simplify the complexity of HNS planning and assure enduring access to key host nation resources and defense infrastructure. This access is needed to conduct reception, staging and onward movement of cargo, equipment and personnel across the region to execute theater sustainment and distribution.

"Sharing of information is important," said Diehl. "We're trying to better understand each other's requirements and constraints while improving efficiency and effectiveness in our own host nation support processes."

Diehl emphasized the importance of a "Strong Europe" and freedom of movement in the European theater during a presentation to the committee. He said that it's critical for allies and partner nations to work together to ensure that troops, cargo and equipment are able to move quickly, safely and unencumbered throughout the region. Strong networked relationships fostered with the NTCC ensure necessary support during training, exercises and ultimately, in times of crisis.

"To fight and win in a complex world, specifically a war in the European theater, we're going to have to do it with our NATO allies and partner nations," said Diehl. "You must be ready and able to move freely along Europe's interior lines. Boundaries we experienced before the [Berlin] wall fell are different today."

During the three days of vigorous discussion, nation representatives had an opportunity to present a national perspective on the challenges faced in their own logistics planning processes. Discussions brought forth a common set of issues, including an increasing demand for resources, a need for more rapid responsiveness and agility, and a need for training and mentoring on best practices throughout the logistics community.

"Information exchange is important. It gives us a chance to hear experiences from other countries and have a debate. It's clear that we can learn from each other based on sharing of host nation processes," said Roger Harrison, the U.K. representative and current NTCC steering committee chairman. "This organization has a place to drive the reforms."

Another common discussion theme was the challenge of cultivating a better understanding of HNS and associated processes and capabilities. Committee priorities include the creation of greater awareness and understanding of the NTCC and its role in military logistical operations.

"We are operating in a new European security environment," said Diehl. "It's a complex environment that requires anticipatory action and host nation support. Meetings like this are an opportunity to strengthen partnerships and relationships and lead to improved theater preparedness and readiness."