Academia environment prepares international SOF personnel for Jackal Stone exercise
ZEMUNIK AIR BASE, Croatia - International service members assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force command and control cell underwent intense academic training Sept. 12-16 to improve their efficiency and interoperability before the start of the Jackal Stone 2009 exercise.

ZEMUNIK AIR BASE, Croatia — International service members assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force command and control cell underwent intense academic training Sept. 12-16 to improve their efficiency and interoperability before the start of the Jackal Stone 2009 exercise.

The main objective of the Jackal Stone exercise, co-organized by the Special Operations Battalion of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces and U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), is to enhance capabilities and interoperability amongst the participating special operations forces as well as build mutual respect while sharing doctrinal concepts, training concepts and various tactics, techniques and procedures.

With military personnel from 10 different countries participating, the three-day course forged a framework of common knowledge and operating procedures that will enable the partners to work together toward a common goal.

"We [the exercise participants] all come with different backgrounds, experience and doctrines. The training is meant to spur discussion so they can share their experiences and knowledge so that we can, as a group, form the most effective and efficient combined organization," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Sam Saine, the lead observer and trainer from Special Operations Command-Joint Force Command based in Suffolk, Va.

Participating partner countries include: Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States.

"The academic instruction mainly focused on all of the skills the staff officers from the different countries will need over the course of the 10-day exercise," said Saine. "We covered some the fundamentals of planning, support operations, and even just understanding what the individual participant's job is in a combined and joint environment."

Romanian Army Maj. Tocila Doru, special operations liaison officer for Jackal Stone 09, found the training worthwhile and important to building a cohesive team.

"The classes provided an outstanding opportunity for the different nations to harmonize and establish standard procedures so all members can begin together," Doru said. "Even from the first day, improvements have been seen continuously and we are confident the rest of the exercise will be a success."

The day-long classes were divided into morning and afternoon sessions conducted in a classroom seminar setting to solicit discussion from the students. "In the morning, we [the observers and trainers] spur some of the discussions through the academics and teaching in an effort to get everyone to chime in with their own set of knowledge so we can understand each other better and learn from one another," Saine said.

He also mentioned the afternoon sessions were a time for the SOCEUR staff to divide into their directorates and form into operational teams. The classes, in conjunction with the main exercise component of Jackal Stone 09, will have benefits far into the future for all the partner nations, including the United States.

"From the U.S. perspective, we're trying to improve our international military partnerships. But at the same time we're building our own capacity because we're learning from our partners," Saine said.

"We don't have the answers to everything. The other nine nations here have their own set of experiences and knowledge," he said. "If we [the U.S.] can glean a little bit from each of these nations weell all be better for it in the end.

"The next time we have to come together as a group of nations to solve a real-world problem, we'll be better prepared for it because we've worked together and we understand each other. This is true not only with regard to tactics, techniques and procedures, but also with respect to our different cultures and languages."

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