By Sgt. Karen S Sampson (Army Reserve)October 7, 2016
HOHENFELS, Germany -The Joint Multinational Readiness Center trains U.S., Allied, and Multinational partners to execute Unified Land Operations in a contemporary, European environment.
The recently completed Combined Resolve VII and the current exercise, Allied Spirit V, use NATO's Joint Warfare Center's Skolkan scenario. It supports a NATO Article 5 responses, allowing training units to practice for the collective defense of a NATO member.
The Skolkan scenario forces the training audience to conduct offensive, defensive, and stability operations. While preserving the territorial integrity of NATO members is a key exercise goal, as in the real world, there are also political objectives such as facilitating government legitimacy and fostering internal stability. These foster civil-military interaction, what NATO calls a "Comprehensive Approach," to accomplish mission end states.
In contrast to the US Army's Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) scenario which is set in an underdeveloped region (the Caucasus region), the Skolkan scenario takes place in an advanced, European country. This means there is an established government which JMRC replicates with a developed economic, political, security and social infrastructure. This means the German government has the ability to solve many of the problems facing it."
According to Dr. James Derleth, the Sr. Interagency Training Advisor at JMRC, this allows JMRC to create a different set of challenges for training audiences that significantly differ from their experience in Afghanistan or Iraq. They include power shortages, rising unemployment, an influx of internally displaced persons (IDP), and refugees fleeing from other countries.
Since these issues will affect the overall stability of the country, "a goal of the exercise is to get training units to engage with the host country government, identify its plan to mitigate these problems, and then if requested, work collaboratively with it and other Unified Action Partners (UAPs) to help fill in the gaps."
While the Skolkan scenario has been used for Corps and Army level NATO exercises, this is only the second time it has been used at JMRC for tactical level (brigade and battalion) exercises. JMRC planners and its Operational Environment Team spent months gathering national, state, and local data, in order to create a realistic training environment. This includes using local town names, a typical societal structure, and hundreds of backstories for the civilian role-players who populate the training area.
Micro-environments range from small villages--with real livestock--to urban areas with schools, hospitals, and government buildings. Hundreds of role players from various countries help make the operating environment complex and dynamic.
"When a unit comes to JMRC, we work to understand our individual partners -- how they fight, what laws do they have to abide given the circumstance and what equipment they have to fight with" said Lt. Col. Matt Gill, Sr. Intelligence Officer at JMRC. As the senior intelligence trainer, Gill synchronizes the training rotation and the effects inside the Hohenfels training area for both the friendly and enemy units.
"What's great about the JMRC training rotation is every rotation is different, every task organization has different rules that it has to follow and caveats to consider, Gill said. "We bring these country's forces to one plot of land against a realistic, life-driven scenario and we enable them to work through those problems."
"When you look at JMRC as a part of 7th Army Training Command we're an amalgamation of partners of multiple different nations and multiple different experiences, said Gill. "They all have their own unique experiences -- they have learned modern combat different from the U.S.," Gill said of the NATO allies and partnered nations.
This scenario "allows us at JMRC to exercise the realistic war plans of our NATO partners,"
"It's essentially like playing football on Thursday afternoon with the team that you will compete against Friday night," said Gill.
Exercise Allied Spirit V continues to test the rotational training units until Oct. 15.