NATO envisions Afghan mission change to train, advise, assist

By on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

At the end of 2014, the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan is scheduled to end, and a new train, advise and assist mission called Resolute Support begins.

During Europe’s recent combat training conference, the top brass of more than 35 nations outlined a way ahead to prepare for the transition that involves combined and joint training provided by the Joint Multinational Training Command, known as JMTC, here.

“There was a lot of discussion about the coming ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and NATO operational transition in Afghanistan,” said Col. Thomas S. Matsel, the G3 or chief of operations at the JMTC.

“NATO is going to transition” from its ISAF operations centered in Afghanistan to a force that is prepared to respond across the full spectrum of conflict, Matsel said.

Since JMTC’s training events regularly include multinational participation, the discussion is different at other Army combat training centers, Matsel said.

“They are mainly concerned with Title 10 training [training for U.S. troops]. Their focus is on U.S.-based Army units and their ability to conduct combat or contingency operations,” he said. “We have that responsibility with our Title 10 forces also, but JMTC, the training command for the U.S. Army Europe also has the task to make sure U.S. Army units are well integrated with our NATO and multinational partners and the place where that happens, and is tested, is here in Europe during our multinational training and exercises.”

Simultaneously, at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany, the exercise Combined Resolve looks at the post-ISAF relationship and the potential for future coalition operations. The training brought U.S. forces and those of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and Sweden together to challenge systems and develop cultural understanding and trust.

“The training is exactly in harmony with what we want to attain in the whole of NATO. After years of training concentrated on Afghanistan, we again want to pay attention to the training of fundamental military activities,” said Petr Pavel, the Czech Republic’s chief of staff, about the training. “For us this means training in an environment that we are by no means capable of replicating in domestic conditions.”

Pavel said his Army benefits by training with the modern equipment and training facilities available at Hohenfels, as well as the professional cadre of observers, coaches, and trainers.

“We do not have the technical means to assess the training available here [in the Czech Republic] and we aren’t capable of ensuring the multinational participation,” he said.

A multinational exercise is planned every month for the next year. The next exercise is slated for Dec. 7-17. The New Jersey National Guard will train at the Hohenfels Training Area with more than seven multinational partners.

“It’s important to remember some of the best and most capable security forces in the world are right here in Europe and we must build on the past 10 years of combat operations with our NATO and multinational partners so we are ready for the next emergency or contingency,” Matsel said.

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