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Training CollageMultinational interoperability momentum builds with preparation for live coalition exercise

U.S. Joint Forces Command joint training personnel continue working with military planners from around the world as they put the final touches on June's Combined Joint Task Force Exercise (CJTFEX) 04-2.

By Jennifer Colaizzi
USJFCOM Public Affairs

(NORFOLK, Va. -- May 11, 2004) - Every work day evening a military member's spouse asks, “Honey, how was your day?” For the past 16 months Marine Corps Lt. Col. Ben Sandlin's answer could have been a version of: we're gearing up for Combined Joint Task Force Exercise (CJTFEX) 04-2.

According to Sandlin, JTFEX project officer, CJTFEX 04-2, to begin in June, is slated as the first enhanced live coalition integration exercise, making it extremely important to the development of future coalition exercises.

The term "enhanced" simply equates to significant forces. Unlike previous JTFEXs, scheduled two or three times yearly with limited participants, CJTFX 04-2 will consist of a “full up staff” including live intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Also of significance, the exercise, directed and sponsored by USJFCOM, will execute DoD's Joint National Training Capability (JNTC) operability priority.

“JNTC is an enhanced way to train joint forces. The exercise is live, virtual, and constructive (LVC),” said Sandlin.

Using computers to drive manned simulators and computer models, LVC environments blend existing operational and strategic exercise facets with live forces. According to Sandlin, this translates into a robust and realistic experience. JNTC melds training into a joint context, thereby developing streamlined future military operations.

“This is not the first time we have integrated LVC into an exercise, but it is significant given the large level of live forces,” said Sandlin.

“A live exercise provides regional combatant commanders with forces that are trained in joint warfare,” said Sandlin. “These forces [carrier strike groups (CSG), for example] receive certification just before deploying overseas to support the regional combatant commander.”

Other exercise objectives include: identifying transformation capability opportunities; validating and updating joint doctrine and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP); integrating the Joint Combat Identification Evaluation Team (JCIET) for the first time; assessing force ability to manage, exchange, and use digital information to support joint and combined fire support; and overall training for the joint warfighter.

“Coherent joint training is key. We are trying to close gaps and seams at all levels, which is a vital aspect of JNTC,” said Sandlin.

Twenty-first century threats are dictating the future of warfightingand, according to Sandlin, an important aspect of CJTFX 04-2 is the integration of coalition forces.

“We are integrating them at every level in the exercise. The deputy joint task force commander is an Italian general and one of the component commanders is a general from the United Kingdom,” said Sandlin. “It's crucial to have coalition forces integrated into training exercises. That's the way we are going to fight in the future.”

The exercise will be performed in a combined/multinational environment with coalition forces from the United Kingdom, Holland, France, Peru, Germany and Norway participating as well as U.S. troops returning from deployment and reserve units.

Additionally, CJTFX also will serve as a venue for US/UK bilateral training. According to Sandlin, the two countries generally participate in a bilateral exercise every four years. However, the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia excluded the last bilateral exercise, making the most recent one Purple Dragon, held in 1996.

Real world situations may dictate that exercise forces change. “We continue to feel the tug. The magnitude of exercise forces is quite an operational burden,” said Sandlin. “Just as in the real world forces are non-static, exercise forces are not static.”