GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – 7th Army Training Command’s Joint Multinational Simulation Center housed a multi-corps, multinational, multi-domain (M3) command post exercise (CPX) from June 5 – 14, 2023 during Defender 23.
Defender 23 is a U.S. European Command scheduled, U.S. Army Europe and Africa conducted theater exercise comprised of a series of linked exercises separated by time, space, and, phase to train U.S. and multinational units on large-scale ground combat operations in an M3 environment.
V Corps, which was reactivated in October 2020 and positioned in Europe due to the evolving security situation, was the primary training audience for the CPX. Secondary training audiences included the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 56th Artillery Command (56th AC), and Multinational Corps Southeast (MNC-SE).
“There are response cells executing from JMSC and distributed command nodes in Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern, Germany; Ft Knox, Kentucky; Sibiu, Romania; and Boleslawiec, Poland,” said Maj. Tor Zaleski, JMSC exercise planner. “There are roughly 800 people here at JMSC, but that's not all the exercise participants because V Corps, MNC-SE, 21st TSC, 4ID, the Estonian Division, and 56th AC are fighting from their real-world command posts.”
The Defender 23 M3 CPX offers higher echelon commanders and staffs a simulation training environment that increases proficiency, improves readiness, and enhances interoperability.
“This event builds the cohesion between the divisions and the corps and forces us to work those communication hurdles that occur in real-world operations.” said Zaleski.
Col. Jerry Baird Jr., commander, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, agreed with the value of exercising how higher echelons coordinate.
“… at this level, at the corps level, being able to see those higher echelons and how they coordinate efforts, and how they coordinate with those divisions that are between us and in the forward fight… understanding how those orders trickle down through those corps levels is pretty impressive,” said Baird.
For other participants, the CPX not only identified needed improvement areas, but also helped validate their relevance.
“Our staff exercised their ability to talk to our Allies and Partners along with our higher headquarters,” said Brig. Gen. Vance Kuhner, deputy commanding general (support), 200th Military Police Command. “In doing so, the staff learned a lot about itself. We learned some new areas that we must focus more on, but we also learned that we could do it. We are relevant now and we’re ready for the future.”
Michael Choffy, JMSC lead models and simulation planner, spoke about the importance of having representatives from countries like Estonia and Romanian.
“That’s a really a big step for interoperability with our NATO Allies and Partners,” Choffy said.
Choffy noted some of the challenges associated with putting together such a large CPX, such as overcoming language barriers and difficulties in coordinating multiple nations and units to come together at the same time and place, and be able to communicate across network systems.
“There are a lot of technical challenges we have to overcome between working with our multinational partners and U.S. participants as well,” Choffy said.
Estonia overcame one of those challenges to maximize its participation in the CPX.
“They stood up all their mission command systems, their networks and got it federated with Mission Partner Environment (MPE) in support of this exercise, which is a huge win across the theater for bringing interoperability or pushing our ability through the exercise program,” said Zaleski
NATO describes MPE as the U.S. implementation of NATO’s Federated Mission Networking (FMN), which leverages the systems architectures of participating nations to create a common information environment. It is not a single network but rather a construct that enables contributions to a federation of partners to provide mission-specific networks and systems.
“MPE is a fighting network for this theater, and we have made significant strides over the course of the past three years that I've been here. We've seen multiple countries become truly federated with MPE,” Zaleski explained. “That's a go-to-war network, and not just an exercise network. It's their primary network for communication. It's a primary network that they're getting mission command feeds and working through intel fires and maneuver.”
7th ATC and its directorates like JMSC routinely train U.S. and multinational forces together to build trust, develop interoperability, and set the conditions for creating the strong coalitions that will guarantee peace and security in the region. This is how the command does its part to assure U.S. Allies and Partners and deter adversaries.