GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – About 1400 participants of more than 40 countries and organizations gathered at the Joint Multinational Simulations Center (JMSC) at Grafenwoehr Training Area for the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM’s) exercise, Combined Endeavor 2010, the world’s largest military communications and information systems exercise, Sept. 2-16.
“We are here with different types of equipment. We are teaching each other how to use these systems,” said Miha Plevnik from the Slovenia Delegation. “We are getting more and more experience, and in this way we are getting better in communications.”
Communications refers to each nation testing existing signal equipment and computer network functions that could be used for coalition operations for compatibility or non-compatibility. Another benefit -- emerging nations modernize their communications infrastructure and interoperability, which is also useful during emergency response, for example, officials say the 2004 Tsunami relief efforts were supported by Swiss helicopter flight crews with interoperability guides developed and refined during this exercise.
“Improvements in communication and computer network capabilities will not only enhance the readiness of our forces to provide regional stability,” said the U.S. European Command Civilian Deputy, U.S. Ambassador Katherine Canavan. “They will also enable more efficient cooperation among partners across a broad range of activities, including natural disaster response.”
In addition to hosting Combined Endeavor 2010, there are two additional exercises on-going at the site at Camp Aachen, Phoenix Endeavor, which is focused on network-frequency management; Cyber Endeavor, which trains the nations in cyber-defense and information assurance.
“Because of the capacity Grafenwoehr has both in facilities and network capabilities Grafenwoehr became the main operating site,” said Capt. Petero Lole, JMSC’s lead planner. “a forward-site is located in Romania. There are a few networks connecting Romania [Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase] to Grafenwoehr.”
Lole says, the savings are significant for participating nations. The countries did not have to spend funds on transportation costs associated with bringing those goods or providing contract staff to support the exercise.
“We have an existing facility here for participants to fall inside, instead of countries having to travel and stand-up a facility to support the exercise,“ said Lole. “If you look around this room all these computers, tables, chairs and projectors, most countries didn’t have to bring those things here.”
Although a large majority of the countries participating are from Europe, this year, representatives from the Iraq and Afghanistan, are participating to help U.S. Central Command develop a template for a future Combined Endeavor exercise in that region.
“There’s an ”endeavor” now in the Pacific, Pacific Endeavor. There is one in North America that uses South America and Canada to interconnect their network communication systems, said Capt. Jack H. Gaines, EUCOM spokesperson. This exercise that we do here in Grafenwoehr has branched-out world-wide, and every major command is launching their version of it.”
Representatives from Iraq and Afghanistan benefit by participating in this event as they move beyond combat operations toward development and capacity building, which is the next step for the nations. Combined Endeavor 2010 in Europe serves as a dry-run or rehearsal for their own exercise, said Gaines.
Austria, Afghanistan, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Iraq, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Serbia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Ukraine