By Ms. Lacey Justinger (USAREUR)March 10, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (March 10, 2017) -- Call for fire! Order fire! Request fire! Cease fire! Wait -- what does that actually mean?
The answer may depend on which country you're from.
The exercise series Dynamic Front helped to build cohesion for field artillery units from Germany, the Czech Republic and the U.S., three countries who all executed live fire at Grafenwoehr Training Area, March 6-9.
"Armies tend to be very similar around the world but there are differences. Some of that is just language. Some of that is working through how we actually receive and interpret information," said Lt. Col. Joe Jackson, the senior artillery trainer for 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Readiness Center and the Dynamic Front exercise director. "Dynamic Front, with using multi-echelon training, allows theater-level strategic objectives and initiatives to be processed all the way through to the tactical level."
With the Czech Republic bringing 152mm Howitzers, Germany shooting both 155mm Panzerhaubitze 2000s and MLRS MARS II, and the U.S. employing 155mm Lightweight Tower Howitzer M777A2s, multinational Soldiers had to learn to overcome differences on many levels.
"The ability to work with other nations with different platforms -- especially artillery -- gives a unique opportunity to work to interoperability standards across all the NATO nations," said Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander, NATO Allied Land Command, while watching field demonstrations, here.
Dynamic Front brought together nearly 1,400 participants from nine different nations, including the three who executed live fire. Exercise planners focused on working through procedural, human and technical challenges to improve multinational interoperability, and to ease communication and information exchange efforts. This included clearing up terminology interpretations between different nations' and NATO's procedures, synching up technical interoperability for weapons systems, and building relationships.
"We've got to get to know each other. Some organizations haven't worked together and therefore, it's a learning curve as we build personal relationships," said Lt. Col. Nicholas Sargent, a British Royal Artillery soldier assigned as the division chief for joint integration at the Fires Center of Excellence's Army Targeting Center in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
He explained that the benefits of nations training, collaborating and operating together in exercises like Dynamic Front are building trust, understanding and forming human relationships to help increase understanding of how allied nations will operate together in the future, and elevate the alliance's level of readiness.
The Dynamic Front training environment at 7ATC simulated a realistic, complex operating environment by replicating challenges that countries may face if they deploy together in the future.
"This is all about readiness: the readiness between nations, readiness in the alliance, readiness in the individual Soldiers and their equipment," Williams said.
"Blending live, virtual and constructive training allows (the exercise's training environment) to be much more complex but also allows us to train multiple echelons at the same time," Sargent said. "That makes us more efficient and therefore, we're able to enhance our readiness."
In the not-so-distant past, nations were operating at the division- or corps-level but have now shifted focus to be collaborative on a multinational-level. One way of enabling this joint effort is through a technical solution called the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities, or ASCA, program. ASCA enhances interoperability among NATO nations' theater-level fires systems by allowing fires information to be exchanged digitally.
"Dynamic Front and the ASCA system -- because it connects so many different computer systems together -- allows us to create a better fundamental understanding," said Jackson. "Dynamic Front provides the baseline, operational-level training that allows multiple nations to come together to form a coalition.
"This is the key to the future," he said. "The ASCA capability provides the opportunity to bring these nations together. We have the capability of coordinating not just within our own Army but with other nation's artillery systems."
For example, participants were able to pass technical artillery data from a U.S. system to a system in the United Kingdom via satellite and resulting in live fire several countries away.
"Dynamic Front has shown what is possible; Dynamic Front has set the standard and shown us what we can do," said Sargent.