GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Dr. Janine Davidson, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Plans, observed Europe's Full-Spectrum Training Environment rotation, Oct. 20-22, during the final stages of training.
"It's an opportunity to really think about these facilities and the way we use them," Davidson said. "I really believe that if you are going to train the way you fight, you need to train with your allies. And so, it's important to be here."
The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team demonstrated force-on-force maneuvers as the distinguished visitors -- including the defense minister of the Republic of Slovenia, a former Eastern Bloc country that contributed more than 500 soldiers to replicate the host-nation security force during the FSTE, and the secretary of Defense's representative to NATO -- watched cadre, observers, controllers and trainers conduct complex training scenarios at Hohenfels Training Area.
Davidson and dozens of distinguished visitors toured facilities and met with cadre, staff and trainers.
The Joint Multinational Training Command is the U.S. Army's only forward-deployed training command suited to train U.S. and multinational forces because of its proximity to NATO and coalition allies in Europe, Asia and Africa. In part, Davidson's portfolio is to examine global force posture. Her task is to examine the utility of forces in Europe at a time when everyone is concerned with reducing their budgets.
The Pentagon is under pressure to reduce spending, while Congress debates the value of redeploying troops stateside permanently.
In an article posted to www.politico.com, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), was quoted as saying "for our economy, it's better for those troops [in Europe] to be in the United States, spending their wealth and creating tax growth for the local communities and jobs."
Since 2009, the JMTC has trained more than 12,000 troops annually. The JMTC trained more than 5,000 multinational Soldiers during Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, or OMLT training, while more than 600 international military students from 27 European countries have completed the Warrior Leader Course, the Army's non-commissioned officer pre-requisite course.
Europe's FSTE was the first training of this type to be conducted in the region.
Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer, U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general and the exercise's senior trainer said the relationships formed during this exercise, from the squad to the senior-command level is valuable, and ensures the Soldiers are among the best trained in the Army today.
"The importance of this training, for our multinational partners and for the U.S. Army, cannot be overstated," said Boozer. "The value of having our Soldiers here training alongside and working with our European partners is immense. It cannot be replicated at any other training center. The relationships that are being formed during this exercise, from the squad leaders to the senior commanders, are invaluable and have proven their worth in the past."
During the complex training of friendly forces, the 173rd ABCT, with soldiers from Poland and Slovenia, faced a professional opposing force, augmented by Slovakian Soldiers equipped with tanks, helicopters and unmanned aerial systems. The coalition forces trained against both conventional and unconventional enemies, including a realistic criminal element, after parachuting into a remote and austere environment.
The unit had to establish their fighting position, build-up fighting power, set-up communication and develop relationships with the host nation.
"Leaders in Europe from sergeant to colonel are light years ahead of their peers," said Maj. Charles V. Slider, the executive officer of the Combined Arms Center-Training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "I've done two rotations at Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk and one at the National Training Center and the amount of unified action between U.S. and host-nation forces -- including the enemy and host-nation package is impressive."