Group working to facilitate more joint training at Hohenfels
Stars and Stripes August 22, 2006
HOHENFELS, Germany — The Joint Multinational Readiness Center is adding personnel and equipment to foster more joint training here involving the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Col. Tom Vandal, JMRC operations group commander, said the training center, which specializes in elaborate mission rehearsal exercises for Iraq- and Afghanistan-bound units, this month achieved “conditional accreditation” by the Department of Defense’s Joint National Training Capability program.
All major U.S. military training centers are attempting to gain accreditation for joint training capabilities, a process that involves rigorous self-examination and inspection by JNTC officials, Vandal said.
“The accreditation is what we see to be a springboard for more joint training at JMRC. It is clearly the direction our Army and all the services are headed,” he said.
JMRC already has a five-man Bull’s-eye Team of Air Force observer controllers who coordinate air support during exercises. The team will add three more Air Force personnel, Vandal said.
The training center also wants to add Marine, Navy and Air Force officers to its staff, he said.
A Marine security company out of Rota, Spain, trained at Hohenfels in July, and Air Force Security Police members, which used to train at Fort Lewis, Wash., will train here for the first time in the fall, Vandal said.
However, USAFE spokeswoman Master Sgt. Lynda Valentine said there’s no official agreement between USAFE and the Army at this time to increase joint training opportunities at Hohenfels.
Computer simulation equipment at Hohenfels already is able to train joint forces, but JMRC is looking to acquire more, including a system that can simulate an AC-130 gunship, Vandal said.
Lt. Col. Jack Bone, who oversaw the center’s part of the JNTC accreditation process, said the effort focused on a few key areas such as conducting fires, personnel recovery, urban warfare, information operations, improvised explosive device tasks and multinational operations — all jointly.
The process identified 46 possible enhancements or shortfalls that will be prioritized and addressed through funding, equipment and personnel, he said.
JMRC strategic planner Stephen Herbert said the training center has focused mostly on Army training for the past eight years.
That did not square with the Goldwater-Nichols Act, a law passed by Congress in the 1980s that requires U.S. forces to focus on joint training, Herbert said.
“For two decades we didn’t meet that intent,” he said. “It was not until Iraq and Afghanistan that we really became aware of the need to do joint training. As our forces dwindle, it becomes more evident that, from an efficiency perspective, we have to train and operate jointly.”
“You can have an aircraft crew flying a simulator at Sembach Air Base, Germany, participating in an exercise at Hohenfels talking on a radio to troops on the ground and seeing the terrain on a computer monitor. You can have a Marine headquarters in Stuttgart using their gear controlling a Marine company that is physically at Hohenfels,” he said.