Preparation, Higher Standards Helped Cooperative Osprey Troops
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
Well-prepared platoons and higher standards made Partnership
for Peace exercise Cooperative Osprey, Sept. 16, 1996 bringing peacekeeping scenarios closer to what troops would face during a deployment.
For Sheehan, the exercise was not a question of what NATO learned from troops, but more about what soldiers learned from each other. He said the greatest value of partnership training is getting troops from different nations to meet each other and build cohesiveness.
"It's relationships like this that make a difference," he said. "One of the great things was at the end in World War II, we trained with the Germans, French, British. Today, we have very strong relationships with those countries. The same can be said for what's happening in the Partnership for Peace."
Calling the exercise a success, Sheehan added exercises like Cooperative Osprey are not the end of the partnership story. "Militaries that talk to each other and train together frequently don't fight each other," he said. "This is only Chapter 2 of a long, long book that's going to take a lot of time to complete. Sheehan said Atlantic Command is trying to arrange more partnership maneuvers in the United States, and a key to adding more chapters is maintaining communications and providing more intense training.
"The question becomes how you stay engaged," said Sheehan. He added the United States and NATO cannot walk away after starting the partnership program. "This is a process that will take 10 years, 15 years, maybe 20 years."
Sheehan said NATO took eight years before it accepted Germany as a member. He said approvals may take as long or longer for some Eastern European nations. However, he cautioned if NATO does not invest time and money into future exercises promoting the partnership, it will waste its early efforts toward further building a secure Europe.
Although the exercise cost nearly $8.5 million, mostly in transportation costs, Sheehan said Cooperative Osprey was not a U.S.-based "charity exercise". He said promoting European unity is the main emphasis in all Partnership for Peace exercises.
"We missed that opportunity in 1945," said Sheehan. "Secretary [of Defense William] Perry wants to take this opportunity now to reach out and assure there is a genuine sense of security -- especially those nations that missed opportunities in 1945."
Partner nations participating at Camp Lejeune were Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Canada and the Netherlands joined U.S. forces as NATO participants. Military observers from Denmark, Azerbaijan, Belarus and the Czech Republic also attended.