HOHENFELS, Germany – Members of the U.S. Department of State participated in the U.S. Army exercise Combined Resolve 18 as role-players in Hohenfels, Germany, May 3-5, 2023.
Combined Resolve 18 is a multi-national U.S. Army exercise consisting of approximately 4,000 service members, allies and partners.
Having members of the Department of State participate in a large-scale military exercise provides opportunities to learn how to do their job in a combat environment.
They also learned how to interact with military units and leaders
“If we were to fight a war, a large-scale combat operation in Europe, we would have other agencies of the U.S. government also involved as part of a whole government team to try to achieve the U.S. government strategic objectives,” said Eric C. Kotouc, the interagency training coordinator for the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. “We need to recreate that part of the operating environment for our units that are training here.”
Members of the Department of State had the role of finding U.S. citizens and getting them to safety during the exercise.
“The State Department specifically is thinking particularly about how to help Americans that are caught up in this conflict area and working to evacuate them to a safer place,” Kotouc said.
Aside from being responsible for U.S. citizens in the area, the Department of State is also a valuable asset in receiving information about the environment they are in, which can aid military leaders.
“They are also here to do some reporting and understanding of what is going on in terms of the political and security environment as well as some other parts of the economic and social information of the environment,” said Kotouc. “By nature of being involved in that, it gives them a role in facilitating when the military arrives.”
During Combined Resolve 18 the State Department team consisted of two consular specialists, a political military officer and a regional security officer. Following them was Jeanette Rebert, an observer/controller, or OC, who guided them through different scenarios and challenges.
“My role here as the OC is to help run the scenarios that we planned for the State Department team and observe how the State Department reacts to various situations and challenges,” said Rebert, who is also a consular section chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Munich.
Meeting the challenge
Rebert mentions one of the challenges for the State Department team is learning how to interact and work with the military to provide them with valuable information.
“We can help inform the military on what to expect in terms of the civil environment that they are coming into,” said Rebert. “It is extremely useful for the State Department to learn how to talk to the military, learn each other's lingos and jargon and provide them with information they need so that it is not all overwhelming in a real life scenario.”
On the other end of the spectrum, having Department of State in these exercises provides the military a training opportunity to learn how to work with the civilian government.
“We are very focused on making sure it is realistic training that prepares our Soldiers for things they might actually face in the future,” Kotouc added. “We feel like there is a realistic chance that in a conflict in Europe, our military personnel would be exposed to dealing with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and The International Committee of the Red Cross.”
Learning how to work together can be beneficial for both the Department of State and military especially during a crisis situation like a combat zone.
“When they can coordinate on things like security issues and manage to work together for the movement of civilians, that interface is where the training value is on both sides and that is what we are really focused on,” said Kotouc.
Kotouc hopes every exercise continues to coordinate with government organizations like the Department of State to provide opportunities for government workers.
“I am very confident the momentum we have is strong and the partnership we have developed is stable and concrete,” said Rebert. “I think with their cooperation and support there is every reason to believe that we will be able to continue this in the coming years.”
Follow all the Combined Resolve 18 Action