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French troops participating in last year’s Combined Endeavor exercise operate out of a center crammed with the latest communications and computer equipment. This year’s exercise begins Friday.

French troops participating in last year’s Combined Endeavor exercise operate out of a center crammed with the latest communications and computer equipment. This year’s exercise begins Friday. (Stars and Stripes)

Can you hear me now?

One of the goals for Combined Endeavor 2006 is for troops from 41 nations to hear one another a little better on their phones and radios.

Another is to see if they can communicate better through videoconferencing and e-mail exchanges. About 1,200 troops and civilians will be participating in the 12th annual exercise, which starts Friday at Lager Aulenbach — near Baumholder, Germany — and at Eagle Base near Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In recent years, troops from many countries have joined forces in relief efforts for disasters such as the Pakistan earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami. They’ve also fought wars together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Communications have become increasingly important.

The exercise is being coordinated by the Stuttgart-based U.S. European Command. One of its missions is to help stop conflicts before they start, which it calls phase zero war-fighting, in its 91-nation area of responsibility.

“The exercise is creating the future of military communications worldwide, and is a clear demonstration of true ‘phase zero war fighting’ ” through cooperation, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Verbeck, director of EUCOM’s international interoperability, concepts and experimentation directorate, said in a press release.

About 200 U.S. troops will be participating. They include soldiers from the 5th Signal Command, 2nd and 7th Signal Brigades, and 101st and 102nd Signal Battalions; airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, 1st Combat Communications Squadron, 102nd Information Warfare Squadron and Rhode Island National Guard; and Marines from Marine Corps Forces Europe and 6th Communications Battalion.

The exercise is schedule to last 13 days. Participants will conduct more than 1,000 tests, which will be added to the existing 12,000 technical test results currently in the Combined Endeavor interoperability guide.

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