Last Friday marked the closing ceremony of this year’s Combined Endeavor Main Planning Conference. The event was hosted in Sofia, Bulgaria, by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense and U.S. European Command.
Twenty-nine nations and three international organizations participated in the conference. The conference deliverables assisted in designing a mission network that utilized an interoperable “bring your own devices model” and ensured the international coalition audience was able to participate. Ultimately, the mission network contributed toward constructing an exercise operational scenario across land, air and cyberspace domains.
Driving these efforts were delegates from Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. Multinational Corps North East, NATO and South-Eastern Europe Brigade Multinational Peace Force, or SEEBRIG, also participated in the main planning conference.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Combined Endeavor and its final year as an event focused on the communications’ domain. The exercise is undergoing a strategic evolution as key elements of command, control, communications and computers, or C4, interoperability and cyber defense are integrated to form a portion of the command’s regional exercises. These exercises are focused on building and defending a coalition mission network against cyber attacks in the event of a crisis or contingency operation. Partnering with USEUCOM’s Regional Exercise Program will maintain and sustain critical engagement opportunities with key partners and allies. Simultaneously, we will be able to maintain enduring characteristics of building and executing a mission network with strong collective cyber defense.
Brigadier General Bruce Crawford, Director, USEUCOM Cyber Directorate, attended last week’s conference and hosted a number of meetings with key allies. They discussed how the investment in Combined Endeavor over the past 20 years could add value back to today’s operations as we continue to plan for tomorrow’s challenges.
“The enduring characteristics of Combined Endeavor, forged through partnerships over the past 20 years of coalition interoperability will now be integrated into existing theater exercises, as we continue to operationalize the coalition cyber domain,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Wood.