SACEUR - LANDCOM is first line of defence for retaining jointness

10 Jul 2013

Izmir, Turkey – The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) made his first visit to Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) Headquarters on Tuesday, 9 July 2013, since assuming command of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and U.S. European Command last May.

General Philip M. Breedlove was happy to return to the NATO base that until recently served as headquarters to Air Command-Izmir when he was the commander of U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE) and NATO’s Air Component Command in Ramstein, Germany.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben” Hodges, commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) receives Gen. Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and commander of U.S. European Command(USEUCOM).
- NATO photo courtesy of Adj. Edouard Bocquet, FRA Air Force

General Breedlove told the command group and staff that the most important reason for Allied Land Command's (LANDCOM) existence was to retain the level of cooperation, cohesiveness, tactics, techniques, procedures, competencies and capabilities that the Alliance has developed over the past 12 years deployed together as part of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan.

"I'm afraid that if we do nothing, it will all go away,” he said. "LANDCOM is the first line of defence to hang onto ‘jointness' as potentially the lead ground element for the Alliance to perform joint operational functions such as fire support, intelligence, communications and sustainment.”

The SACEUR said he was challenging all of the NATO component commands – AIRCOM, LANDCOM and MARCOM – to move away from a single-service mindset and modify exercises, education and training to prepare the Graduated Response Forces (GRFs) to deploy and operate as part of a multi-service, multi-national coalition.

General Phil Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Lieutenant General Gordon Messenger, Deputy Commander of Headquarters Allied Land Command - NATO photo courtesy of Adj. Edouard Bocquet, FRA Air Force

The LANDCOM commander, Lt. General Frederick "Ben” Hodges (USA-Army), agreed. "We’re a nascent headquarters, giving us a sense of urgency. The world’s not going to wait until we’re [at] FOC [full operational capability].”

Colonel Gordon Falconer (GBR-Army), LANDCOM’s assistant Chief of Staff for Operations delivered the command briefing to the SACEUR and his travelling party and defined the headquarters’ overarching purpose.

"LANDCOM exists so that if you’re that Portuguese soldier operating in KFOR [Kosovo Force] or that Turkish soldier supporting RC [Regional Command]-North in Afghanistan, you are prepared.”

Hodges said despite LANDCOM’s current manning challenges, he was extremely proud of the men and women in his command who have been working hard to get the headquarters operational while attending training and planning conferences to conduct evaluations and certification exercises for the GRFs for land (GRF-Ls).

"Fortunately we have a lot of great experience at this headquarters from within NATO,” he said.

General Breedlove addresses LANDCOM personnel - NATO photo courtesy of Adj. Edouard Bocquet, FRA Air Force

Breedlove then reviewed the certification exercise (CERTEX) calendar and asked if LANDCOM or the GRF(L)s could only manage one evaluation for one corps per year. Hodges replied that he didn't think NATO could afford to only plan one a year to meet the Level of Ambition.

"We need to create a training community or have a structure in place so that we can conduct multiple exercises simultaneously, both virtually and live,” said Hodges.

Falconer explained that in the future, a CERTEX needs scenario development that is focused beyond the NATO Response Force (NRF) level, collaboration with AIRCOM and MARCOM, augmentation and communication network protocol compatibility to facilitate effective command and control.

LANDCOM's Deputy Commander and lead for the CERTEX program, Lt. General Gordon Messenger (GBR-RM), expressed his desire to change the thinking within NATO so that commanders view LANDCOM evaluators as consultants rather than like school headmasters seeking to pass or fail pupils.

"Constructive criticism is not bad. Our goal should be to understand what 21st-Century componency looks like so we can effectively link the strategic command level with the joint operational level,” Messenger said.

The SACEUR reiterated that he would challenge each NATO component command to develop a training and certification program for 2015 and beyond to consolidate and condense resources and expects them to conduct fewer exercises.

"We can't afford a hodge podge of exercises and training focused on the preparation of individual units,” said Breedlove. "We need to plan ones geared for two to three groups of training audiences.”

Story by: Lt. Col. Angela Funaro, U.S. Army
LANDCOM Public Affairs Office

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