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Newsletter 10-12
December 2009

TSC Engagement in Europe; Building Coalitions

By Lieutenant Colonel Michael R. Eastman, FA

Published with permission from FIRES Bulletin

Graphic showing weapons famialiarization at the Novo Selo training area in Bulgaria

Given the demands of modern coalition warfare, theater security cooperation (TSC) is a priority mission for Army forces assigned to the US Army Europe (USAREUR). The Field Artillery (FA) has been and will continue to be a major contributor to TSC in Europe.

Several factors combine to create unique advantages for Artillery forces stationed in Europe in the TSC arena. USAREUR units enjoy a geographic proximity to dozens of nations eager to train with the US. Additionally, many of our current partners, particularly those in Eastern Europe, retain a military structure centered on mechanized and armored forces, with significant numbers of FA units available for targeted engagement.

Finally, the world-class training environment provided at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and the wide availability of ranges in our neighboring countries provide challenging settings for a variety of training opportunities at relatively low cost. Current operational demands have limited our ability to leverage these advantages in recent years, but an enormous potential exists-and the FA community in Europe will be a key participant in TSC for years to come.

USAREUR's first priority has been and is providing trained and ready forces for our commitments to the War on Terrorism (WOT). The operational tempo in Europe, like that in the continental US, ensures that the vast majority of our operational units are in the predeploymentdeployment-redeployment cycle. This has posed challenges for the Army's ability to resource many desired multinational exercises and has impacted on the frequency of TSC events over the last several years, but certainly does not diminish their importance.

TSC Plan. Peacetime military engagement, as defined by the recently released Field Manual 3-0 Operations, consists of "all military activities that involve other nations and are intended to shape the security environment in peacetime. It includes programs and exercises that the US military conducts with other nations to shape the sinternational environment, improve mutual understanding, and improve interoperability with treaty partners or potential coalition partners."

The European Command's (EUCOM's) TSC plan guides execution of this important function, setting priorities for military engagement across Europe, and USAREUR units execute this plan as the Army component in theater. In fact, Artillery units in Europe are positioned uniquely to interact with many of our European allies, and USAREUR leadership has set the conditions for building on this potential in the coming years.

The investment in TSC in Europe during the past several decades has paid enormous dividends. One needs to look no further than our current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for evidence. The vast majority of countries contributing land forces to both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are from the EUCOM area of responsibility.

Graphic showing joint training exercise

Ties Strengthened. There are a range of factors that impact a nation's decision to participate in WOT. However, the fact that both longstanding allies and new partners from across Europe are willing and have the expertise to operate seamlessly in coalition warfighting with US forces is attributable directly to TSC engagements. These TSC engagements are designed to build partner capacity, ensure interoperability and strengthen military ties between these nations and the US. The common procedures, equipment interoperability and shared confidence, so vital to successful operations, are the result of years of cooperation and engagement.

FA Benefits. Artillery units enjoy additional benefits and opportunities as a result of TSC in Europe. Many of our partner countries, and particularly those in Eastern Europe, retain a force structure that is based around heavy and mechanized forces, and FA is frequently a major component of their ground forces. This presents dual opportunities for engagement.

Not only is there increased interest in developing the nonlethal integration skills critical for success in the current counterinsurgency fight, but many of our European allies retain a strong desire to share tactics, techniques and procedures related to our more traditional core competencies. Forward deployed Artillery units enjoy the advantage of geographic proximity to these European partners, so opportunities for live-fire exercises in countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania present another exceptional way to build partner capabilities and close relationships through TSC.

Operational demands have hampered USAREUR efforts at TSC somewhat, but FA remains a key contributor to our ongoing activities. During the past 12 months, successful NCO exchanges have occurred between the United Kingdom (UK) and US Army National Guard units from Indiana, Michigan, Kansas and Illinois. B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 123 FA (B/2-123 FA) (105mm) from Macomb, Illinois, conducted a successful reciprocal small unit exchange with the UK Territorial Army from 16-30 June 2007.

For the active Army, FA played a central role in one of the highlights of USAREUR TSC activities in the past year. From August to October 2007, Soldiers from the 1-94 FA (Multiple-Launch Rocket System or MLRS) worked alongside units from Bulgaria and Romania as part of the first rotation to Joint Task Force–East (JTF-E), USAREUR's premier training site in Eastern Europe.

The battalion served as the core of a multinational task force for this multinational exercise, participating in various training events ranging from individual small arms and crew-served ranges, squad live-fire exercises, situational training exercises and other soldiering skills with Romanian and Bulgarian counterparts. Task Force 1-94 conducted exercises at locations in both countries, including Novo Selo Training Area, near Bezmer Air Base in Bulgaria, and at a forward operating site at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania.

The JTF-E rotation was received extremely well by all participating countries, and future rotations will expand to include the deployment of additional US active and Reserve Component Army units to Bulgaria and Romania, greater joint participation and the potential for live-fire exercises incorporating mortars, cannon artillery and a range of sensors.

Recent FA Missions. Given the demands of the contemporary operating environment, however, FA participation in TSC in Europe during the past year has been focused on nonstandard missions rather than our traditional core competencies. This is an understandable consequence of both the demand on our operational forces and the emphasis placed on developing partner capacity for employment in a counterinsurgency environment.

Recent multinational rotations to the JMRC, for example, generally have not focused on the integration of lethal and nonlethal effects. Artillery training of late has been limited to preparing partner units for the current fight, emphasizing battle drills such as"react to enemy indirect fire" and instructing international soldiers on core tasks such as performing crater analysis. However, the potential remains for increasing emphasis on the planning, delivery and integration of lethal and nonlethal effects in future years.

In short, USAREUR's Artillery units enjoy several advantages that hold great promise for TSC in the coming years. Geographic proximity to our international partners, a high density of European artillery units eager for joint cooperation and a training environment that provides multiple venues for a wide range of training combine to make Europe an exceptional place to conduct TSC. Our investments in this program have paid enormous dividends to the US, its coalition partners and emerging allies. The FA community stands ready to play a central role as the USAREUR TSC program moves into the future.


 

Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

 
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