Europe training center gets new commander, plans for large exercise
HOHENFELS, Germany — U.S. Army Europe’s maneuver training center here welcomed a new commander Wednesday, less than a month before it hosts its largest exercise in 13 years.
In a morning ceremony attended by Army and German officials, Col. John G. Norris assumed command of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center from Col. Jeffrey R. Martindale, who will retire.
The JMRC coordinates training on the Hohenfels Training Area, a 40,000-acre swath of fields, forest and rocky outcrops controlled by the U.S. since 1951. Traditionally the site of high-intensity force-on-force exercises, the area has in recent years seen a lower-intensity use in line with recent wars, focusing on counterinsurgency and security force mentor training for U.S. and multinational troops.
Next month, the center and its parent Joint Multinational Training Command will host the massive Saber Junction exercise, involving thousands of U.S. and multinational soldiers and exhibiting the Army’s return, in part, to the large-scale training of decades past.
The exercise will pit the Stryker armored vehicles of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment against a mobile, armored opposition force, and is to be the largest exercise held by U.S. Army Europe since 1989, according to JMTC.
On Wednesday, USAREUR’s deputy commander, Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer Sr., praised Martindale for his work at the command, which hosted 10 major training rotations in the past year and another in South Korea.
Norris arrives in Hohenfels from ISAF Joint Command Headquarters in Afghanistan. He also commanded a Stryker brigade deployed to Iraq for 10 months in 2008.
“We’ll continue to train the warriors that will dominate the most demanding and unforgiving conditions imaginable,” Norris told the audience.
Saber Junction is scheduled to run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30.