D-Day: 78th Commemoration Ceremonie de Utah Beach 2022
French service members and U.S. Army service members stand in formation, June 6, 2022, during the 78th Commemoration Ceremonie de Utah Beach, at Utah Beach, Normandie, France. VII Corps units landed by air and sea to pursue three missions: expand the Allied beachhead, seal off the Cotentin Peninsula, and thrust northward to liberate Cherbourg, France. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Lumagui) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Lumagui) VIEW ORIGINAL

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The 21st Theater Sustainment Command and French Logistics Command met in Wiesbaden, Germany on Aug. 31, 2022, to discuss joint operations necessary to reach 2028 strategic objectives. The two NATO allies will work towards synchronizing efforts to achieve cohesive capabilities in all domains and the ability to deploy and sustain one another globally.

U.S. Army Europe and Africa and French Land Forces Command are official partners under the Unit Partnership Program, focused on training together with NATO standards and doctrine to reach operational and tactical interoperability. The program’s framework will improve their ability to operate together in high-intensity warfare across the full spectrum of bilateral and multilateral operations. Originally signed in March 2020 by Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Christopher Cavoli, and Lt. Gen. Vincent Guionie, commander, French Land Forces, and the partnership resumed this August after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

U.S. and French brigade-sized units were chosen to support the partnership and establish relationships. 21st TSC is tied to its French counterpart Commandement de Force Logistique, or COM LOG, to cross-train systems, tactics, techniques and procedures in an effort to enhance army-to-army sustainment cooperation.

COM LOG, headquartered in Lille, France, invited 21st TSC to view their capabilities in April 2022. “[COM LOG] were immediately responsive and also very eager to develop this relationship,” said Maj. Philip Freeborn, officer in charge, Multi-National Integration Cell, 21st TSC.

France is the oldest U.S. ally with 240 years of diplomatic relations, and a history of supporting NATO logistics requirements by increasing freedom of movement in mainland France and expanding seaport, air, land and rail capacity within Europe. Soon after the partnership became official, France supported the 21st TSC in a sustainment operation by assisting in the reception, staging and onward movement of equipment amplifying operational flexibility with regard to setting the European theater in Port La Rochelle, July 2020.

21st TSC visit with French partners
Maj. Philip Freeborn, officer in charge, Multi-National Integration Cell, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, receives the Surface Transportation and Transit Center unit coat of arms from Lt. Col. Richard Lefevre, deputy commander, Surface Transportation and Transit Center, after holding discussions in Montlhery, France, April 28, 2022.  The visit transpired from the Unit Partnership Program between U.S. Army Europe and Africa and French Land Forces Command and the program is focused on the ability to interoperate in multi-domain operations. Photo by: Lt. Col. Olivier Reinbold, COMLOG inter-army Cooperation Chief. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Two important initiatives discussed were transparency of NATO Logistics Functional Area Services suite of tools and sharing heavy equipment transports. According to Freeborn, working together with French partners and utilizing their maritime assets and heavy equipment transports would set conditions for future interoperability.

“It’s great to not only have commercial possibilities to help us receive and move heavy equipment across theater, but why not also rely on our neighboring allies to do it?” said Freeborn.

Embedding French and U.S. officers into each other’s exercises under the initiative of improving the human dimension of interoperability was another agree-to-action item that developed from the partnership. Lt. Marc Ayello is a COM LOG Transportation Corps platoon leader and participant in the Saber Junction 22 exercise.

Saber Junction 22 involves 13 nations and provides a combat training center rotation for the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade to assess the brigade’s readiness to execute unified land operations in a joint, combined environment and to promote interoperability with participating ally and partner nations. The exercise was scheduled to take place at the U.S. Army’s Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas in Germany, from September 6-16, 2022.

Ayello contributed to decision processes and provided logistical support in the tactical operation center alongside Lt. Col. John Abella, commander, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st TSC and Capt. William Southard, operations officer in charge, 18th CSSB, 16th SB, 21st TSC. According to Ayello, participating in joint exercises improves his English dialogue and teaches him the U.S. Army procedures and rules.

“We have to work together to reinforce interoperability between allies,” said Ayello.

Upcoming Logistics Functional Area Services system courses offered in English by COM LOG and French training exercises like MONSABERT 23 and ORION 23 will focus on exchanging and integrating personnel to strengthen relationships, enhance NATO logistics, and aim to eventually accomplish a compatible level of interoperability.

Supporting democracy, liberty and freedom at home and abroad is a shared commitment between the U.S. and France. The nearly two and a half century partnership is making strategic efforts to become more confident in their ability to interoperate in multi-domain operations.