GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Military leaders and fires professionals across Europe and NATO gathered together online to attend the 6th annual International Fires Warfighting Forum (IFWF) hosted virtually by the 41st Field Artillery Brigade from Jan. 12-14.
For three days, more than 230 military professionals from 27 countries listened in to briefs on doctrinal and technical interoperability challenges. Communications and joint fires planning and execution, as well as the challenges of airspace deconfliction are focal points for ongoing and future exercises.
The annual forum is held to create a shared understanding of fires capabilities among NATO Allies and Partners and to increase the interoperability between the nations creating a stronger defense of NATO and Europe.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to facilitate conversations and take part of such an important event, particularly given the COVID challenges,” Col. Daniel Miller, commander of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade. The 41st was a big player in last year’s event as co-host, and we were 100 percent the host of this year’s event.”
This year saw nearly twice the amount of participants in attendance than in 2020. Miller acknowledged the increase was because of two factors; the virtual environment allowed people to attend that may not have been able to travel, and the increased interest in what the forum provides.
Miller said, “Every year participation increases because the IFWF has proven itself to be a valuable and informative asset to those who participate, who in turn encourage others to participate.”
"I would like to thank the 41st Fires Brigade for hosting this forum, which becomes more and more important every year,” said Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa. “I say that because the necessity for long range precision fires, and our need for joint and allied convergence, are critical to our ability to conduct multi-domain operations.”
Military professionals in Europe come together during IFWF to discuss how to integrate air, artillery and various fires assets with ground maneuvers to build on the multi-domain capabilities that make up combined arms warfare both now and in the future.
U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Laatsch, Chief of CAS capabilities sections, NATO Air Command said, “IFWF is a good sounding board to test ideas and get feedback from diverse perspectives.” Laatsch also said that it was, “limited this year by virtual means, and not being able to socialize ideas or go into detail during breaks.”
The virtual setting had good points and drawbacks to conducting this type forum. Talk of IFWF22 was already beginning before the end of the final meeting. Everyone, to include Col. Miller, agreed that they hope to see each other in person for next year’s event.