U.S. makes Iraq War a training template for all commands

Friday, August 8, 2003

The United States plans to capitalize on its experience in the war in Iraq to increase training and coordination between all commands in the Middle East.

The Defense Department plans to enhance cooperation between U.S. military units in the Middle East to ensure a more effective response to regional crises. The Pentagon also plans to duplicate the coordination in the Middle East in other regions in which U.S. forces are based.

Officials said the cooperation will include joint training with allies that want to help the United States in military operations and peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and other regions. The United States will be joined by several European and Asian states in Iraq.

[On Thursday, nine people were killed and 30 were injured when a truck bomb exploded in front of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. Scores of Iraqis then rampaged and looted the embassy.]

Defense Undersecretary for Readiness Paul Mayberry told a conference sponsored by the National Training Systems Association and the U.S. Joint Forces Command that the Pentagon has made joint training a priority. He said the war in Iraq brought together such commands as Central Command, Army Forces Central Command and Allied Forces Central Europe which worked together despite operating in different parts of the Middle East region.

"You had forces deploying from all over the continental United States, coming from Camp Pendleton, coming from the East Coast, coming out of Europe," Mayberry said on July 10. "These forces had never trained together before, all to be able to perform in a theatre in synchronized joint coordinated coalitional effort."

Mayberry said the Pentagon will advance what he termed Joint National Training Capability. He said the Pentagon plans to spend $1.2 billion between 2004 and 2009 on the program.

"We prepare and train for war just as we fight, and that is jointly," Mayberry said. "We cannot expose the individuals in our military forces for the first time in combat what they have not been enabled to rigorously prepare for in training. We fight as a joint team, therefore we must train in an appropriate joint context."

U.S. Joint Forces Command, located in Norfolk, Va., is the lead agency for developing and managing the joint training capability. Mayberry said the command will be based on four pillars.

They are a globally networked training environment, seamlessly linking ranges and simulation centers; the ability to stand up an opposing force and joint task force functional headquarters, supporting live, virtual and constructive components; the ability to continuously assess interoperability performance in the field; and seamless accommodation of both interagency and coalition requirements.

"Our forces are dispersed, they will always be dispersed," Mayberry said. "And therefore we must adjust our joint training to be able to be so distributed, to be able to be deployed where our forces are that they can be linked together and train on an ongoing basis."

The Joint Forces Command will also examine training for coalition forces in Iraq and other regions, officials said. They said such training will increase interoperability as well as the effectiveness of joint operations and communications.

"Whatever this capability that is developed, it is going to have to have connectivity; its going to have to be deployable; its going to have to go where our forces are, as well as where our partners are, and be able to train on an ongoing basis," Mayberry said.

Officials said the Pentagon seeks to recruit contractors to discuss projects that will help improve joint training programs. They include the development of technology that will allow two forces in different regions to train under one standard through electronic links.

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