U.S. Navy Reservists played a leading role in the NATO exercise STEADFAST JACKPOT 2007, which concluded recently at various sites in Europe. About two thousand troops from all 26 NATO countries participated in the exercise, which ran from June 4 through June 14. Primary locations were NATO's Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway; Strike Force NATO in Naples, Italy; Allied Air Component Command Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey and Special Operations Component Command Headquarters in Spain. Smaller outposts included Solbiate and Persano, Italy.
STEADFAST JACKPOT is a computer-assisted exercise. It focuses on the training of the NATO Response Force (NRF) by using a scenario centered on a fictitious group of islands in the North Atlantic off the coast of Africa.
The purpose of the exercise is to train the three Joint Force Commands with their air, maritime and land components prior to their actual deployment to the NRF. This gives them the chance to correct deficiencies in capability and doctrine in a hypothetical environment without the risks and disruptions of real-world maneuvers.
Staff officers and enlisted Reservists
Participating in JACKPOT were staff officers and enlisted Reservists from SACT detachments in Battle Creek, Mich., Norfolk, Va., Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, Kansas City, Mo., Dubuque, Iowa, Buffalo, N.Y., Bessemer, Ala., and Spokane, Wash.
Capt. Jeff Smith, Commanding Officer of SACT Det 113 in Battle Creek, Mich., said this operation represented a lot of hard work. "All of the training and mission preparation our unit accomplished over the past 18 months has culminated in this major deployment to Europe," Smith said.
Cmdr. Bill Nooney of SACT Det 113 was assigned to the media cell at Solbiate. There, he and his colleagues assumed the role of reporters and photographers, interviewing commanders and their lieutenants, writing news stories and shooting pictures and video of the exercise.
Nooney said, "I feel we made a contribution. Our job was to interact with the PIO (public information officer) of the Land Component. He was new to his job, so any training we could give him was good. And we all learned together."
Lt. Ayana Wilson, SACT Det 113, was Officer-In-Charge of the Visitors and Observers Bureau, located in Persano, Italy. Her chief assignment was to coordinate visits of Distinguished Visitors with members of their staffs to make sure everything ran smoothly. "This was my first time doing a NATO exercise," Wilson said. "I was surprised to see so many countries and so many services working cohesively. Every branch of the U.S. military was represented, too. It was great to see everybody coming together and working together."
Capt. Smith agreed and was understandably pleased to watch the men and women under his command excel in a demanding, up-tempo environment. "I couldn´t be more proud of the officers and sailors of this unit who I know will have a tremendous impact on the readiness of the international forces deploying in support of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan," Smith said.
Streamlined planning process
This is the last year for JACKPOT and its counterpart, STEADFAST JAW. Starting next year, the training and planning process will be streamlined with three major exercises in Brunssum, Naples and Lisbon.
The NATO Joint Warfare Centre is a subordinate command of Allied Command Transformation, commissioned in October 2003. Navy Reservists played a major role in the initial setup of the site, a former navy base in Stavanger, Norway.