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Undersecretary Says 'Sooner Rather Than Later' for Joint National

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2003 – The Defense Department is making joint training a priority as it moves ahead with transforming the way U.S. forces prepare for war.

During a one-day conference sponsored by the National Training Systems Association and the U.S. Joint Forces Command July 10, keynote speaker, Paul Mayberry, undersecretary of Defense for Readiness, told an overflow audience the Defense Department is committed to moving forward with what is called the Joint National Training Capability.

"Sooner rather than later" is the charge given by Pentagon leaders for developing this capability, he said. DoD is planning 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," he added.

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

  • 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.

Mayberry said another consideration for JNTC will be to look at ways to include training for coalition forces, including those nations that may want to contribute to U.S. military operations.

"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," he said.

In justifying the importance for joint training capabilities, Mayberry noted, for example, that during Operation Iraqi Freedom military commands such as Central Command, Army Forces Central Command and Allied Forces Central Europe worked together despite operating in different parts of the Middle East region.

In addition, he said, U.S. forces were arriving in theater from around the world.

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

"Our forces are dispersed, they will always be dispersed, . . . 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."

Mayberry said that joint training and operations are "extremely complex," and military units must be trained on a routine basis to the "highest standard and prior to military arriving in theater."

"This is the ultimate justification of the Joint National Training Capability," he said.

The National Training Systems Association is an association of companies representing the simulation, training and support services industry.

During the conference NTSA members met with senior officials from the Pentagon, the U.S. Joint Forces Command and the Joint Staff to discuss the technological gap between military services and organizations, as well as examine how to develop joint training programs with sites and facilities that are geographically dispersed but electronically linked.

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