GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Training soldiers from other nations and helping leaders from partner countries is the primary mission of U.S. Army Europe going forward and the Marshall Center is a critical part of that, according to its commander.
Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling visited the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies May 23. This is his third visit here, his first in 2001.
He toured facilities and met with center director, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton.
"The Marshall Center compliments [our mission] significantly," Hertling said.
"It is focused on the strategic aspect of building partner capacity; improving transformation and helping people in other countries provide security and stability for their nations."
In 2010, the Marshall Center taught in-residence courses to about 900 people from 144 countries around the globe, including the 51 countries within U.S. European Command. During conferences and outreach events, the center also connected with better than 8,000 of its worldwide alumni. Hertling, who formerly oversaw operations for the five regional centers, said the Marshall Center has been able transform its role as Europe and Eurasia has transformed.
"I think we've got a very good synergy between my organization and the Marshall Center," he said. "There is some great potential for [the Marshall Center] to move forward even more. When you look back, we've come a long way.
There's conflict in a lot of areas we never thought would see conflict. Also, the types of conflicts are changing, even though the nature of war and security stays the same."
U.S. Army Europe has also evolved through the years. During the 1980s, the U.S. stationed as many as 230,000 soldiers in Europe. Today, Hertling said that number is about 42,000 "which is more than the three brigades that people keep talking about in the force posture review." The 44-year Cold War is long since gone and the evolution of building partner capacity remains.
"We're engaged with preparing forces for combat, which we've done really well over the past 10 years," Hertling said. "We're also helping to build coalition capacity."
Hertling noted that coalition forces are still engaged in Kosovo, played a significant role in Iraq and continue to provide 85 percent of forces to NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
"The requirements for EUCOM, U.S. Army Europe and the Marshall Center are critically important to help build that capacity so that we fight as coalitions," he said. "If you're going to say that conflicts of the future will be coalition events, then you can't just put them together on the fly. You have to build trust and confidence."
A part of building that trust and confidence are values. Hertling has taken to the military airwaves and gone on foot to talk about them. He said his organization has been on a "rapid treadmill" with a "huge operational tempo" and an every day incorporation of those values may be "rusty." He's out to fix that.
"We would be good to remind ourselves what these values mean and how they contribute to our lives. We've had some violations over the past couple of years in combat where values were not at the forefront," Hertling said. "We need values at the forefront, in our day-to-day lives, in garrison environments, in and out of uniform."
Hertling said he hopes the conversation between his soldiers is steered in that direction.
"We want to talk about honor, integrity and selfless service. If we get our soldiers talking about those values, it will be critically important," he concluded.