CE – Combined Endeavor – is a large telecommunications exercise sponsored by EUCOM but planned and executed by our partner nations. This year, 2009, we are moving the exercise out of Germany for the first time in our 14 year history to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a big enough challenge planning this exercise, but this year we add the challenge of building a new infrastructure to support the exercise.
To make this a bigger challenge, while our main site will be in Bosnia, we will have two other operational sites – one in Denmark, the other in the Netherlands. This creates new technical challenges we’ve not had before, particularly creating multi-national communication networks over satellite long-haul connections.
To prepare all of this we hold a series of planning conferences. The initial conference was in Tallinn, Estonia. This week we are conducting the mid planning conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia (the exercise, in September, will be held in Banja Luka, 5 hours Northwest of Sarajevo). The Bosnians are clearly putting much effort into preparing for the exercise, and it has the highest level of attention in the Ministry of Defense. The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Defense, the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia, the Bosnian Chairman of the Joint Staff, and several governmental ministers. Interestingly, it was also attended by the Commanders of the NATO and EU forces in Bosnia.
As a side note, the city of Sarajevo was very pleasant. It is clean, orderly, and quiet. All the people we met were very friendly – more the impression of a small town than a rather large city. We had a nice dinner the first evening at a nearby restaurant where we enjoyed local specialties. The city still shows the evidence of the war – 15 years on and many buildings are still heavily pock marked with small arms and larger caliber fire. There are, also, many newer buildings. Revitalization is evident, but the world-wide economic problems have clearly halted much of that work.
The CE final conference before the exercise will be in Montenegro. By the end of this conference we will be nearly ready to support about 1200 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen from 39 nations at three sites in order to conduct roughly 1000 military telecommunication tests over a two week period. The goal of all this? To have European forces better prepared to support coalition operations whenever and wherever needed – to learn in an exercise how to make all their different communication systems work together so we don’t have to figure it out after it may be too late. Good communications is the enabler of operations – that’s what CE is about – good comms.
COL Dan Matchette, USA
EUCOM J-69, C4I Interoperability