SEMBACH, Germany – U.S. Army NATO Brigade’s command teams gathered from across Europe Feb. 21-24 to meet face to face and share information at the Quarterly Touch Point 23-1.
Historically, the brigade’s command teams; nine company commanders and first sergeants, two battalion commanders and command sergeants major, and the brigade commander and command sergeant major, have met twice a year at the spring and fall leaders’ summits to synchronize long-range planning, develop a shared understanding and promote professional development.
With the implementation of the quarterly touch points, the brigade leadership has added two new face-to-face meetings each year.
The two quarterly touch points held in Sembach, Germany, are meant to complement the leaders’ summits in Naples, Italy, in the spring and Mons, Belgium in the fall.
Col. Troy V. Alexander, commander of U.S. Army NATO Brigade, kicked off Quarterly Touch Point 23-1 with a speech on what he expected the leaders to accomplish during the training.
“We have to go into this week with a growth mindset,” said Alexander. “We have to go into this week focused on developing relationships, and we must leave this week with an action plan for each company of who's carrying what forward over the next 90 days.
“If you've been struggling trying to figure something out, don’t struggle alone because you’re a perfectionist. Don’t suffer in silence.
“If you’ve been struggling with an issue for the past six months without success, then we need to carry the action forward together.
“It is my expectation that we leave our round robin sessions with an action plan of who has what action whether it’s the company, battalion, or brigade to ensure success,” said Alexander.
Three of the brigade’s 12 command teams are headquartered in Mons, Belgium; three in Naples, Italy; two in Sembach, Germany; and one each in Brunssum, Netherlands; Izmir, Turkiye; Norfolk, Virginia; and Szczecin, Poland.
The command teams provide support to about a thousand Soldiers at 82 locations across 22 countries. According to Alexander these quarterly meetings are critical to the brigade’s efforts to align support activities for U.S. Soldiers assigned to various NATO headquarters that serve as the mainstay of the alliance’s military efforts to provide deterrence and defense for more than a billion citizens of NATO allied nations.
“The quarterly touch points are helpful,” said Capt. Matthew Henderson, commander, Company C, Allied Forces North Battalion, headquartered in Szczecin, Poland. “They provide us an opportunity for synchronization across the force and to focus our efforts.
“They also allow us to flatten communication between echelons, so from the company perspective down where we are in the foxhole with our troops leading the fight for NATO Readiness, we are able to communicate upward to the battalion level what the needs are across the force and then actualize that at the brigade level in order to support our personnel,” he said.
The guest mentor for the event was retired Col. BJ Constantine who served in U.S. Army NATO as a company commander, battalion commander and brigade commander during his career.
“I think the most important thing for any commander or any Soldier coming into the NATO Brigade structure, whether it be at the company, battalion or brigade level, is to keep in mind our mission to support NATO and our nation’s commitment to the alliance,” said Constantine. “It is too easy for us to focus inward on our small company, battalion or brigade headquarters, but I believe there is a real danger in doing that because in doing so we lose focus on our true reason for existence as a brigade and that is to support U.S military personnel, specifically Soldiers, in their role in their NATO headquarters wherever that NATO headquarters may be.”
The U.S. Army provides Soldiers to the NATO Command Structure at the strategic, operational and tactical level, while U.S. Army NATO Brigade provides logistics, human resources and service-specific support to these Soldiers and their families to ensure they remain ready, resilient and able to support our joint and multinational partnerships.
“What I learned today from being here for this training where all the first sergeants, commanders, and sergeants major were brought together is that this is a tremendous opportunity for them to get to know each other, for them to share stories, and for them to learn from each other and take away successes they’ve had that they can perhaps apply in their own operational environments,” said Constantine.
Constantine said he was impressed with the intelligence, passion, and commitment of the company leaders he met during the training.
“The things they are doing daily are not things they were ever taught in any military leadership school,” said Constantine. “We are talking about engagements with multinational partners, with German, Polish or Italian colonels, generals and civilian leaders to try and get things accomplished.
“I’m just so impressed with what they are doing and what they are accomplishing every day,” he said.
A discussion point that Constantine returned to multiple times during his weeklong visit with the brigade was how the NATO mission continuously changes and how the brigade leaders must be flexible and adaptable.
“Every year, NATO hosts a summit in one of the NATO nations, and they discuss how the NATO force structure and command structure will change to meet the alliance’s needs,” said Constantine. “This brigade cannot just sit back and watch all that happen.
“The brigade has got to be prepared to adapt itself and to morph itself to meet the needs of the everchanging NATO alliance,” said Constantine. “The NATO mission changes, the command structure changes, the force structure changes, similarly this brigade must change, must adapt to remain relevant.”
The brigade wrapped up the weeklong training with a traditional military Dining Out social event featuring dinner and ceremonies followed by an evening of dancing.
For more information check out the U.S Army NATO Brigade website.