Conference of European Armies highlights success of longtime alliances, new partnerships

Senior land forces commanders from across Europe for the 19th annual Conference of European Armies, Sept. 20, 2011

From  Senior land forces commanders from across Europe wrapped up three days of discussion of military partnerships and security cooperation as the U.S. Army Europe-led Conference of European Armies came to a close today.

This year’s conference, the 19th CEA, took place in Italy.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno took part in this year’s event. In an interview during the CEA he underscored the importance of developing relationships with America’s European allies and partners. . . .

"In terms of U.S. security, the constant relationships that we have with these countries, the constant integration, the partnerships that are developed, the common training environments that we use, are very important as we meet the very complex challenges that are ahead of us," he said.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, USAREUR commanding general, co-hosted the CEA and spoke on the successes of U.S. and European forces during a decade of combat in Afghanistan. . . .

He illustrated the extent to which USAREUR is applying those methods to combined training with an anecdote about Secretary of the Army John McHugh’s recent visit to JMTC. The secretary, he said, saw U.S. Soldiers training there alongside Bulgarian forces conducting counter-IED training, Georgian forces in a Mission Rehearsal Exercise, USAREUR staff personnel returning from an exercise in Poland, an Italian observer-controller giving an after-action review to U.S. forces, and soldiers from several European nations attending courses at the 7th Army NCO Academy.

Hertling offered just a few statistics and facts to help define the scope of that cooperative training:

— multinational partners have taken part in every Mission Rehearsal Exercise at JMTC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels since 2005
— more than 14,000 allied and partner nation personnel have participated in predeployment training events at JMTC since 2005
— more than 4,000 personnel from 21 countries have participated in Operational Mentor and Liaison Team and Police OMLT training programs
— more than 300 troops from 24 nations have participated in intelligence training since May 2010
— more than 900 noncommissioned officers from allied and partner nations — most from Poland — have attended the NCO academy over the past eight years
— international forces have been integrated into JMTC observer-controller teams and serve as trainers at the NCO academy . . . .

CEA co-host Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Valotto, chief of staff of the Italian army, called the conference an ideal setting for "the true decision makers of our armies" to talk and develop, and consolidate new and old partnerships.

"Security and stability is increasingly relying upon joint efforts and true synergy amongst countries," Valotto said in an interview during the conference. "Security is a global challenge that requires global answers. That is why the CEA is instrumental to our mission. Operations today are about coalitions, partnering down to the last soldier on the ground. We need to exchange experiences and try to widen our knowledge all together."  (photo:

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