BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Senior logistics leaders from around the world gathered to discuss interoperability and international cooperation for host nation support at the 32nd annual National Territorial Commanders' Committee meeting, here, June 5-7.
The NTCC, founded in 1986, is an informal forum to exchange logistical information that enhances the formal processes of host nation support in relation to military operations and exercises. This information sharing additionally facilitates planning of logistical support and improves host nation capabilities to meet partner nation support requirements.
The NTCC has a role that contributes to making progress in the formal arenas, said John Kizler, 21st Theater Sustainment Command chief of international logistics.
"The NTCC is really an amazing forum to be able to gather the key leaders from the logistics community in Europe together to try and problem solve and expedite host nation support and freedom of movement challenges across the theater," said Brig. Gen. Frederick Maiocco.
Maiocco is the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army's 21st Theater Sustainment Command as well as the commanding general for the U.S. Army Reserve's 7th Mission Support Command.
"From the U.S. perspective, this is the location where we have a chance to meet and reconcile various divergent opinions and processes and try to harmonize those regulations as best we can with our allies," said Maiocco.
"This is a critical forum that feeds into our relationships with our allies throughout the remainder of the year and for many years to come," he added.
A key aspect of the meeting is networking, which was highlighted throughout the conference duration.
"The network is very beneficial and it's important to be around the table with the experts dealing with host nation support issues," said Capt. Juha Kilpi, a representative from Finland.
A significant moment during this year's meeting was the accession of three new members - Canada, Finland and Spain. The accession grows the NTCC ranks to a total of 29 nations.
"This is just yet another tool or another way of further enhancing how we operate together because inevitably we will all be working together as we move forward. So, this is just another tool for us to be able to do that effectively," said Canadian representative Brig. Gen. Michael Rafter after the official induction.
Spain's representative, Rear Adm. Benigno Gonzalez-Aller, also highlighted improved interoperability among partner nations.
"We realized that the movement of troops across Europe was not easy," said Gonzalez-Aller. "We agreed we had to enable Europe's host nation support, extend experience in host nation support and provide points of contact in host nation support. It's an important tool to improve military mobility and facilitate the movement of troops."
Having points of contact and knowing what's out there is a big step in facilitating the success of an operation, added Rafter.
Nations can become candidates and eventually members when they express willingness to participate in the NTCC and a current member country sponsors them. After providing appropriate documentation and letters of recommendation, a candidate's official membership is voted on unanimously by current members.
"We are really excited about Spain, Finland and Canada joining the NTCC," said Maiocco. "They are a great addition to the members that are here and strengthen this group so that we continue to improve freedom of movement and harmonize host nation support and other regulatory measures here in Europe."
The current chair, Belgium, passed the chairmanship to Bulgaria as a closing symbol of the 2018 meeting. The chairmanship rotates annually in alphabetical order amongst member nations.
We will take over from Belgium, who did a great job this year, and we will try to finalize what they have already achieved, said Lt. Col. Ivan Ivanov, a Bulgarian representative. He added that a lot of lessons learned and identified as well as best practices will be made available to NTCC members.
"That will be our main effort - to finalize their achievements and to put it into practice the work that has been done by the core groups during the last two years," said Ivanov.