GARMISCH, Germany - Military representatives from eight north African and southern European countries came together with the U.S. Navy for the main planning conference in support of Exercise Phoenix Express 2013 in Garmisch, Germany, Feb. 5-8.
Phoenix Express, set to take place in the spring, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations and increase maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
The planning phase began immediately following last year’s exercise in the participant’s home duty locations, but the conference was necessary for planning representatives to coordinate the exercise’s final details.
“Executing an exercise the size of Phoenix Express takes extensive preparation and planning in order to ensure each nation is able to gain the maximum benefit from the training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Moyer, U.S. 6th Fleet exercise planner.
The participants discussed topics including the exercise’s schedule of events, communications plan, manning, the combined maritime operations center and also began scripting exercise scenarios.
“In-person planning conferences are invaluable,” said Lt. Chase Ackerman. “The between-session breaks are almost as important as the scheduled planning events because that is where you get to know your partners on a personal level – their personalities, their planning styles. It helps to drive a more successful plan.”
One change for Phoenix Express 2013 is that all the leadership roles during the exercise execution will be held by representatives from north African countries, a change from previous years where those positions were held by the U.S. Navy.
“This year, our North African partners are taking greater leadership roles in the exercise, so it’s even more important for us to meet with them in these planning conferences, so they can take the lead in planning their area of responsibility,” said Ackerman. “They can take a more active role during the planning process, giving their direction and their guidance to structure the exercise organization in a way familiar to them.”
Phoenix Express, in its eighth year, is one of four African regional Express series exercises designed to test skills learned from previous theater security cooperation training events in a regional maritime exercise. Nations scheduled to participate in the exercise are Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, and the U.S.