As part of the Crisis Response Planning (CRP) for exercise TRIDENT JET 16 (TRJET 16), a 23-pax Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) deployed to Stavanger between 17 and 25 May under the command of Turkish Air Force Brigadier General Mehmet Yalinalp, Headquarters Allied Air Command (HQ AIRCOM), Deputy Chief of Staff Plans.
Sponsored by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and directed by German Army Major General Reinhard Wolski, Commander JWC, exercise TRJET 16 is scheduled to take place in early 2016. It will train, and ultimately validate AIRCOM in a Joint Headquarters (JHQ) role, while asserting its Full Operational Capability as NATO’s Air Single Service Command.
This will be achieved after 14-months of planning and nearly two-weeks of intense execution phase in Ramstein and Stavanger, which will require AIRCOM to plan and undertake an air-heavy Non-Article 5 Crisis Response Small Joint Operation (SJO) under direct command of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
During the training AIRCOM will be countering a broad range of highly realistic threats and dilemmas put forward by the JWC-created SOROTAN 1.2 scenario.
Additionally, SOROTAN 1.2 will simultaneously reinforce AIRCOM’s multiple standing missions as well as its Joint Force Air Component (JFAC) responsibilities such as the Air Policing Mission and Ballistic Missile Defence capabilities, while exploring further air capabilities in a complex and diverse training environment.
As such, TRJET 16 marks a major milestone in advancing JFAC’s operational readiness and supporting AIRCOM’s key role as an integrated JHQ and JFAC, able to conduct the full spectrum of NATO Air Power missions when and where required. This means that even though the JFAC is located in Ramstein, it stands ready to deploy at short notice to conduct a joint NATO-led operation anywhere, anytime.
The ongoing exercise planning process
JWC’s exercise planners are involved in all the planning phases of TRJET 16, which started with the visit of the U.S. Air Force General Frank Gorenc, NATO's senior Air Advisor and Commander of HQ AIRCOM, to JWC last year.
Royal Air Force Wg Cdr Christopher Ball, JWC’s OPR (Officer of Primary Responsibility) for TRJET 16, said: “Since then, the exercise planning teams of both AIRCOM and JWC have – through a collaborative process – agreed on the Exercise Design and further development of the Exercise Scenario. Together with our colleagues from Ramstein, we have worked very hard to enable planners on all levels, including SHAPE, to develop and refine their respective processes in order to meet the exercise aim. Besides conducting core planning team meetings and planning conferences, the JWC team dedicated a lot of effort to one week of Academics and a Knowledge Development Seminar for the Training Audience.”
One of the key events on the road to TRJET 16 is the two-phase (strategic and operational) CRP, based on the synthetic SOROTAN 1.2 scenario: the setting is the fictitious eastern Cerasia region where disagreements on water create the conditions for violent regional conflict, challenging NATO at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of warfare, a long way from NATO home territory.
In addition to these clear military roles, TRJET 16 will also train the Comprehensive Approach, civil-military cooperation and Strategic Communications.
Crisis Response Planning
The CRP took place simultaneously in Stavanger and Ramstein, beginning on 11 May.
In support of the CRP, JWC deployed 21-pax as a training team to Ramstein to provide coaching and assistance to help AIRCOM achieve their Training Objectives.
Wg Cdr Ball said: “We were lucky, because a good set of agreed Training Objectives was available early in the process to provide a baseline for our Observer Trainers as they coached the operational planners of the Joint Operational Planning Group (JOPG) through the Crisis Response Planning using NATO’s collaborative planning directive, the COPD. Our collective aim is to help the Training Audience navigate along the ‘Road to Crisis’, developed by the JWC’s Chief Scenario. Highly appreciated was the outstanding support given by the two Senior Mentors.”
German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Ristow, JWC’s Chief Scenario for TRJET 16, added: “We deployed with a small team to SHAPE for one week to set the political and strategic conditions for both the OLRT and operational planners in Ramstein. Upon return to Stavanger, the JWC Scenario team, who had worked for six months on the comprehensive exercise scenario documentation exploring the Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure and Information (PMESII) domains of Eastern Cerasia, including Geo information, ensured that the OLRT, interacting with the White Cell, was enabled to capture all the required details of the crisis region to continue planning their operation. My focus was on realism and scenario consistency in all PMESII domains and I was supported by an excellent, professional and dedicated team.”
The OLRT deployment
In Stavanger, the OLRT deployment resulted with the development of an Operational Plan (OPLAN) which includes the assignment of responsibilities, tasks and resources as part of the overall Operational Planning Process (OPP) and highlights unity of effort between AIRCOM and its subordinate commands.
“I think AIRCOM’s OLRT mission was very successful,” Brigadier General Mehmet Yalinalp said, adding: “As the leader of this team, I believe we owe our success to our team’s deliberate preparation, which started months ago; to our conscious efforts to form the ‘team spirit’ early, and to our strive to maintain the Comprehensive Approach and stay at the operational level, during the OLRT mission.”
Brigadier General Yalinalp continued: “I would like to commend JWC leadership and staff for their well-structured, well-planned, and highly professional processes, which helped us to perform better.”
“OLRT is the deployed eyes and ears of both JOPG and the Commander”
The OLRT is a multinational team drawn largely from the JHQ that NATO deploys to engage a given crisis: simply put, the aim of the OLRT is to gather in-depth information about a potential crisis area, then assess that information and feed it back to the JHQ’s JOPG.
The mission involves liaison with the host nation authorities as well as the international organizations/non-governmental organizations (IOs/NGOs) operating in that area.
British Navy CDR Joe Dransfield, an operational planning Subject Matter Expert at JWC and OLRT Training Team Chief, said: “The OLRT is usually divided into two: a core team and a support group including a wide spectrum of Subject Matter Experts and the CIS support. Their mission is essential; they are the deployed eyes and ears of both the JOPG and the Commander. And, with clear direction and guidance, they can provide information that allows the HQ to develop a realistic, high-quality plan.”
He added: “Effective Knowledge Management leading to shared Situational Awareness between the OLRT and JOPG is the critical enabler. Regarding SOROTAN 1.2 --- this is a complex scenario and the OLRT plays a key role in understanding this challenging environment and also developing solutions before NATO deploys land, ground, air and Special Forces there.”
Nearly 250military planners, Subject Matter Experts and operational level trainers teamed in Stavanger and Ramstein to conduct the CRP for TRJET 16.
The aim was to fully understand the mission and Commander’s intent and to develop an exercise OPLAN to support AIRCOM as it moves towards achieving its Full Operational Capability to undertake full spectrum air-heavy joint operations on behalf of the Alliance.
“The JWC team’s aim is to provide the best training we can to AIRCOM. This is an exciting exercise where the intricacies of a demanding air campaign and broad Comprehensive Approach challenge both us and AIRCOM, and so we all get better,” Wg Cdr Ball added.
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