FORT POLK, La. -- When the United States military was called upon to provide aplace to train hundreds of soldiers from Partnership for Peace countries, theJoint Readiness Training Center located at Fort Polk came in at the top of thelist.
After six months of preparation, Fort Polk is hosting NATO's Partnershipfor Peace exercise Cooperative Nugget 95.
"Because of the nature of this exercise...it makes sense to send it to thepremier light infantry training center.
That is Fort Polk," explained Col.Michael Church, deputy commander of JRTC and Fort Polk.
"JRTC and Fort Polk isthe nexus for all training of light forces and special operations forces."
Soldiers from 14 PFP nations and three NATO nations will learn peacekeepingskills like operating a checkpoint, searching a building, escorting a convoy,occupying an observation post and locating and marking mines during CN95.
According to Church, lessons learned from operations in Cambodia, Somalia,Rwanda, Bosnia, Haiti and Panama contributed to the design of the CN95 trainingsites and scenarios used in the situational training exercise.
Future JRTCtraining scenarios may incorporate the new training sites.
"We've constructed checkpoints, passage points, refugee centers and centers forhumanitarian relief organizations to establish supply depots," Church said."There are long-term benefits in everything that's gone into this operation.None of this is a one-shot affair."
While the training scenarios will challenge the soldiers' skills, Church saidthe climate and language barriers will test the soldiers to their limits."They're (the visiting soldiers) tough, they're proud and they're young, butthey're coming from climates different than here.
"I believe the heat andhumidity are going to be our toughest challenge initially.
The languagebarrier will also cause things to go slow at first."
The PFP soldiers may learn more from CN95 than the field craft they'll pick upat the training lanes.
Church said the professional and cultural exchange is aside effect of mixing soldiers from 17 nations.
"It's always a meaningful experience to meet soldiers from another country,"Church said.
"You erase a lot of myths and you find out most folks aremotivated the same way we are.
They love their country, their land and theylove their family.
They've dedicated themselves to taking care of thesethings."
Cooperative Nugget is the sixth of nine Partnership for Peace exercises plannedfor 1995.
PFP exercises have been conducted in the Mediterranean Sea, theNorwegian Sea, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands and in Poland.
Partnershipfor Peace is designed to build mutual trust and confidence needed for a morestable, prosperous Europe.
Church said CN95 provided JRTC and Folk Polk a challenge and an opportunity atthe same time.
"Of course we don't go looking for extra work," he said.
"We're always willingto support the needs and wishes of the United States Army, the Secretary ofDefense and the President.
This is an opportunity for us to contribute in thegrand scheme."