NATO, Partners Train in Portugal, Norway
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Mar. 18, 1998 Based on a dual-crisis scenario, NATO's largest-ever training exercise is testing the alliance's ability to conduct territorial defense and peace support operations simultaneously at two locations.
About 50,000 NATO and Partnership for Peace forces from 25 countries are taking part in Exercise Strong Resolve March 9 to 21. Soldiers, sailors airmen and marines from NATO's two major commands, Europe and the Atlantic, are involved in the two-phased, multinational exercise.
Crisis South is underway in Portugal and Spain with forces from 11 NATO nations and 10 partner countries. A NATO-led combined task force is practicing peacekeeping operations and a non-combatant evacuation in the Southeastern Atlantic, Western Mediterranean and Iberian Peninsula.
While the land-based combined joint task force concept has been tested previously, Crisis South is NATO's first test of a sea-based task force, a NATO official noted. The concept involves NATO's ability to rapidly deploy forces and command elements rather than permanently station forces at various location.
Crisis North is underway in Norway with forces from 10 NATO nations. They are demonstrating NATO's ability to respond to an attack on a member nation's territory. Article V of the security alliance treaty calls for an attack upon one member to be seen as an attack against all.
Crisis North will demonstrate NATO's ability to conduct "complex and dynamic combat operations at the strategic level," according to Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, NATO's supreme allied commander Europe.
"It should not be overlooked that the alliance is executing Strong Resolve while simultaneously conducting peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina with 35,000 NATO and non-NATO troops," Clark noted.
Adm. Harold W. Gehman, NATO's supreme allied commander Atlantic, said the world's "new security environment requires a joint and combined force capable of conducting sustained operations in the air, on land and at sea, anywhere NATO's vital interests are threatened."
The exercise is also demonstrating the role Partnership for Peace nations are now playing in the alliance, Gehman said here Mar. 11. In Crisis South, a large portion of the ground forces are provided by the partners, he said.
Several NATO nations had to shift support forces scheduled to take part in Strong Resolve to the real world contingency in Iraq. "In several instances," Gehman said, "partner nations have stepped up to fill in with tactical airlift, helicopter lift and other logistic support. We're very grateful for the partner support."
Ensuring interoperability among the 25 nations is key to making exercises like Strong Resolve work, and there have been some minor interoperability--communication challenges, Gehman said. "We have a couple of host nations where plugs or hose couplings don't fit, but that's what these exercises all about. That's why the partners are invited."
Advances in command and control technology are bridging any interoperability gaps between U.S. forces and European allies, Gehman said. "The fact that command and control communications technology are becoming less expensive is the answer to any interoperability problems we have.
"Exercises like Strong Resolve and our actual operations in Bosnia have indicated that whatever interoperability challenges we have, the solutions for them are not very difficult and not very expensive. We are not going to allow large interoperability gaps with our NATO allies to develop."
NATO nations taking part are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Partnership for Peace nations include: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the Former Republic of Macedonia.