STAVANGER, Norway – The command post exercise (CPX) portion of NATO Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021 (STDE21) concluded in Ulm, Germany on May 20, 2021.
Directed by the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC), the exercise provided an invaluable opportunity for NATO’s Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) to test military mobility of 15,000 simulated troops and their sustainment across Europe, using a fictitious Article 5 / collective defence scenario.
Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, Commander JWC, who oversaw the 19-month preparation phase as well as the execution, said the CPX demonstrated NATO’s resolve, capabilities, and joint interoperability, while promoting stability and security.
Rear Admiral Kaack said: “Designing the mechanics of this exercise was very much a collaborative effort. As the JSEC continues the path to full operational capability in September this year, this exercise has acted as a perfect opportunity to capture useful and supportive content that will assist the staff in the future.”
For STDE21, the JWC delivered four start packages that supported the delivery of six standalone vignettes.
“These scripted vignettes aimed to exercise the JSEC in the establishment of a secure and functional JSEC Assigned Area (JAAR) to assure deployment, reinforcement, and sustainment of forces in order to contribute to security and sustain functionality in the European Depth,” the Commander explained.
The CPX, which began on May 12, covered a broad range of high-readiness and military mobility operations across European borders based upon a fictitious Article 5 scenario created by the JWC, to include movement control, security coordination, force protection, as well as liaison between Allied forces, the nations, and other stakeholders.
For the duration of the CPX, the JWC deployed a 24-member Exercise Control (EXCON) forward team to Ulm, including the Centre’s in-house Advisory Team led by Lieutenant Colonel Fin Walls.
“The JWC Advisory Team used a combination of coaching, mentoring, and advising techniques during STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021. Designed as several standalone vignettes, the exercise has given us the time and space to collaboratively pause, reflect, asses, and reset with the JSEC leadership and staff, giving them the opportunity to re-focus on the operational dilemmas in an Article 5 operation,” Walls said.
Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, Commander Joint Warfare Centre
Lieutenant General Peter Bohrer (Ret.) served as the JWC’s Senior EXCON Advisor during the CPX.
“Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021 is a key milestone for JSEC in their efforts to achieve full operational capability,” Bohrer said.
He added: “For me it is the first time that I have had the privilege of supporting the JWC as a Senior EXCON Advisor. It has been an invaluable opportunity for me to work together with an outstanding team during such an important exercise, which truly demonstrates NATO’s commitment to collective defence. Thanks to JWC’s EXCON team!"
Several dignitaries visited the CPX, including Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German Minister of Defence, and Ank Bijleveld, Dutch Minister of Defence, in addition to the Distinguished Visitors’ Day held on May 18.
"Our intent throughout was to ensure the training audience were given every opportunity to meet their training objectives, whilst also having the opportunity to learn and develop on the progression to their full operational capability."
- Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack
Under the lead of Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples), STDE21 is the flagship collective defence exercise for NATO in 2021, which brings together more than 20 NATO Allies and Partners from North America and Europe to test NATO’s readiness and military mobility.
The exercise aims to enhance Alliance security by maintaining NATO’s broad range of interoperability and military capabilities to deter potential adversaries and assure Allies of NATO’s ability to defend them.
The ongoing STDE21 is designed as a series of linked exercises, including a maritime live exercise (LIVEX) supported by air units, the JWC-led CPX, and a live-fire exercise.
The JWC’s primary training audience during the CPX was the JSEC, established in 2018, and the Standing Joint Logistics Support Group (SJLSG), both located in Ulm, Germany.
During the CPX, the training audiences and participating Host Nations were challenged in the JAAR by conventional, as well as non-linear warfare, including industrial hazards, terrorism, and cyber defence, through the JWC's training scenario.
“STEADFAST DEFENDER 2021 is a defensive exercise based on a common purpose, which is the reinforcement of the Euro-Atlantic area. These associated exercises are NATO’s strong assurance towards all Allies that we are ready,” explained JSEC Commander, Lieutenant General Jürgen Knappe.
“The CPX was the JSEC’s most advanced training to date. Our mission is to ensure quick and seamless mobility of our troops and equipment within NATO’s territory at the speed of relevance. We will build upon this successful exercise and show that our young command is a huge benefit to the NATO Alliance. As the JSEC team, our commitment to NATO’s collective defence is ironclad. Therefore, the support of the Joint Warfare Centre was necessary for us to make the next step to reach full operational capability.”
Rear Admiral Kaack noted that collaboration and proactive teamwork had been crucial in the successful execution of the CPX.
“The Senior Mentor, EXCON Advisor, and Trusted Agents have expertly assisted us in our assessment of progression against the training objectives," Rear Admiral Kaack said.
The Commander added: "Our intent throughout was to ensure the training audience were given every opportunity to meet their training objectives, whilst also having the opportunity to learn and develop on the progression to their full operational capability. Without doubt, both JSEC and SJLSG have made consistent progress throughout the exercise.”