Fort Bliss' modernization command will deploy to Germany to run large exercise

In Grafenwoehr, Germany, technicians from Capability Package Directorate integrate vehicles in preparation for the Joint Warfighting Assessment that begins later this month.


By DAVID BURGE | El Paso Times, Texas | Published: April 2, 2018

EL PASO, Texas (Tribune News Service) — A Fort Bliss organization that helps spearhead Army modernization efforts will be deploying to Europe and running one of the service’s largest exercises this year.

The Joint Modernization Command will host its next modernization exercise, called the Joint Warfighting Assessment, in Germany from late April into May.

The exercise will feature more than 6,500 troops from 11 countries, including the United States, said Maj. Brett Lea, the chief of effects for the Joint Modernization Command. Participating troops will come from about 160 different units.

This is the first time that the command has conducted one of its large-scale exercises away from Fort Bliss, said Lea, from Charleston, S.C.

About 120 civilian employees and soldiers from the Joint Modernization Command will deploy to Europe for about six weeks to help run and oversee the exercise, which will be from April 22 to May 9.

“We have built this enormous tent, but now we have to throw the party,” Lea said. “It is incredibly complex and complicated, and there are a lot of people pouring a tremendous amount of energy into making it a success. This is the future.”

The exercise is being done in Europe because that is where available troops are located, Lea said.

The Joint Warfighting Assessment, formerly the Army Warfighting Assessment, has a three-fold purpose, said retired Col. Doug Fletcher, the chief of staff with the Joint Modernization Command.

It will enhance the readiness of participating units, he said.

The exercise also is designed to assess new concepts and capabilities to develop the Army of the future, Fletcher said.

“How will we fight in the future?” he said.

And, finally, the exercise is designed to improve interoperability of joint and multinational partners, meaning their ability to work, communicate and fight together if necessary, Fletcher said.

The Joint Warfighting Assessment will be integrated or folded into two other existing exercises going on in Europe — the Air Force’s Blue Flag command post exercise and the 7th Army Training Command’s Combined Resolve X exercise.

Participating units will include: the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and 1st Infantry Division headquarters out of Fort Riley, Kan.; the 173rd Airborne Brigade headquartered in Italy; a company from the 2nd Ranger Battalion out of Fort Lewis, Wash.; and several small teams from Third Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C.

Fort Bliss’ 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion will participate and provide their communications expertise.

A handful of international partners — Great Britain, Canada, France and Germany — will participate by providing brigades. Denmark will provide a battalion, and Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy and Macedonia also will take part in the exercise.

“The key idea is we are bridging into the near future of the Army,” said Fletcher, from Sterling, Colo.

Lea said this is an exercise of firsts.

“It is the first time we have gone outside of Fort Bliss; it is the first time we have combined our exercise with another major exercise,” Lea said. “Every time we do something, it is another new record.”

Col. Chuck Roede, the deputy commander of the Joint Modernization Command, likes to say this is “the greatest exercise that has never been conducted,” Lea said.

The Joint Modernization Command’s job is to make it a reality and make it the “greatest exercise that has been conducted,” Lea added.

U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Air Force Europe and the Third U.S. Fleet out of San Diego also will participate and serve as the exercise’s higher headquarters.


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