U.S. ARMY GARRISON GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Closing ceremonies held here mark the end of Combined Endeavor 2013, the world's largest command, control, communications and computers (C4) exercise Sept. 26.
The year's exercise, which took place from Sept. 13-26, focused on building coalition information sharing operations and improving the collective cyber defense posture while bridging relationships and trust gained from previous exercise.
For U.S. Army Lt. Col. Carl Lee, CE13 exercise director, the 38 nations participating in this year's event met and exceeded expectations.
"I'm very happy with the way the exercise was conducted this year," Lee said. "We went in with the mind set of executing the exercise based on the future mission network concept. Come next year, we'll be that much further ahead and would have helped the U.S. and NATO to continue the MPE (Mission Partner Environment) process."
What made Combined Endeavor 2013 stand out from previous exercises was that participating nations had to meet Joining, Membership, and Exiting Instructions (JMEI) standards.
"In the past, if a nation had difficulty meeting criteria, they were still allowed to participate in the exercise," said John Nankavis, U.S. Joint Staff J6 deputy director. "This year, these nations had to meet a certain level of accreditation (minimum level of trust) before they were allowed to join the network and exchange information in real time."
During closing remarks, U.S. Army Col. Lemuel Thomas, EUCOM Coalition Partner Interoperability division chief stated, "In a world where we no longer respond alone to humanitarian efforts, natural disasters or crisis, it's crucial that we ensure that the supporting communications systems and critical information exchanges are seamless and interoperable."
Thomas also listed the many accomplishments of this year's exercise to include the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities (ASCA) Live Fire exercise, the single channel radio network operations center 21-site connection, network vulnerability testing and the inclusion of cyber injects into CE13.
"With each coming year, we must continue to evolve this exercise to ensure that we are operationally relevant and to solve and discover problems that prevent coalition information interoperability," Thomas said.
The next Combined Endeavor exercise is scheduled to take place Sept. 11-26, 2014.