11 Mar 21. NSPA delivers second batch of training vehicles to JTEC in Georgia as part of the Substantive NATO-Georgia Package project. On 10 March 2021, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) handed over the last five of 20 heavy vehicles and equipment to the Georgian Ministry of Defence, as part of the Substantive NATO-Georgia Package. The vehicles will join the MoD fleet and will be used as training support vehicles at the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre.
The handover ceremony was held in Tbilisi, the capital of the country, to mark the significant milestone and the closure of the project. Georgian Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Zurab Azarashvili, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Zaza Chkaidze, NATO Liaison Office representative, Ms Pirit Pikker, and NSPA and Georgian officers attended the event.
The 20 vehicles have been customised to meet the requirements of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and of the Georgian Armed Forces. They consist of one ambulance, two minivans, twelve Toyota Hilux and five trucks. The project is funded by NATO Defence Capacity Building with contributions from Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom under Norway leadership.
Since 2014, a Substantial NATO-Georgia Package has contributed to Georgia’s defence capabilities. The Joint Training and Evaluation Centre is one of the initiatives carried out within the framework of the Substantive NATO-Georgia Package and aims to assist Georgia providing training, evaluation and certification opportunities for increased operational preparedness and interoperability of Georgian Armed Forces. This enables them to work alongside NATO and partner forces and offer multi-national training and exercise opportunities. Ultimately, the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package is also aimed to prepare for Georgia’s eventual NATO membership.
Georgia is one of the Alliance’s closest partners, part of the Partnership for Peace programme. The country actively contributes to NATO-led operations and cooperates with Allies and other partner countries in many other areas. NSPA has been supporting Georgia for many years, with the aim to strengthen and modernize its security and defence capabilities through a number of Trust Fund projects. This has helped Georgia to safely dispose of stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and to clear mines and unexploded munitions. The procurement of 20 training vehicles to support Georgian operational interoperability is the latest project developed by the Agency in support to the NATO partner.
08 Mar 21. U.S. Navy joins, Oman, France, Britain in mine countermeasures exercises. Five ships of U.S. Naval Forces Command joined forces of Oman, France and the United Kingdom for a mine countermeasures exercise, the U.S. Navy said. The annual exercise, Khunjar Hadd 26, was held in the Gulf of Oman, and involved Oman’s navy and air force, and the navies of the United States, France and Britain.
Led by Oman, the five-day drills at the end of February “designed to strengthen capabilities in underwater diving, searching, mine identification, demolition and maritime explosive ordnance disposal operations,” a U.S. Navy statement on Sunday said.
The United States was represented by the guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal, patrol coastal ships USS Chinook and USS Thunderbolt, and mine countermeasures ships USS Gladiator and USS Sentry, all elements of the U.S. 5th Fleet.
For the first time, an Omani helicopter landed on a U.S. warship, the USS Port Royal, an example of a standardized HOSTAC [Helicopter Operations from Ships other Than Aircraft Carriers] maneuver which “ensures [that] partner nation pilots and ship crews can successfully and safely conduct cross-deck helicopter operations,” the statement added.
“The naval exercise Khanjar Hadd 26 was successful by all standards, as it reflected the capabilities of the planners and executers to carry out a joint maritime exercise, while taking all precautions related to COVID-19,” said Capt. Rashid Al Shehhi, director general of operations and plans, Royal Navy of Oman Headquarters. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)
08 Mar 21. A new clime and place: Future battlefield at the forefront of new Marine School of Infantry pilot program. In addition to extending the standard SOI course and adding new skills to the curriculum, the course will start training Marines for the new geographic focus and strategy.
After nearly two decades of fighting wars all over the Middle East, the Corps is looking to fight in a new clime and place, using new tactics to take on near-peer enemies.
The Corps’ shift to the Pacific and emphasis on expeditionary advanced base operations comes with a cultural shift and shift in the actual assets and capabilities it demands.
The Corps already has ditched its tanks in efforts to re-invest in other higher priority projects, like long-range anti-ship missiles, as Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger shapes the force for the 2030 battlefield.
The Corps is now taking those changes to the schoolhouses. On Jan. 25, the School of Infantry–West at Camp Pendleton, California, launched the pilot program, a 14-week Infantry Marine Course, or IMC.
In addition to extending the standard SOI course and adding new skills to the curriculum, the course will start training Marines for the new geographic focus and strategy.
One of the first IMC courses new Marines will take as a newly made 0311 rifleman will be a class where the Marine will fit into the expeditionary advanced base operations concept and the “2030 fight,” a slide about the upcoming course said.
“The commandant has said we are going to operating in littorals, expeditionary advanced base operations,” Lt. Col. Walker Koury, the Infantry Training Battalion–West commander, told Marine Corps Times.
“Let’s get these Marines in the mindset they might face when they are on the edge of the battlefield … operating independently by themselves,” Koury added.
In addition to the early introduction of the expeditionary advanced base operations concept, the Marine IMC will attempt to give the Marines “increased aquatic confidence,” the slide said.
The course will use the current Marine Corps swimming curriculum, along with a few tips from reconnaissance Marines ― some of the most qualified swimmers in the Corps ― to improve the future infantry Marines’ swimming ability in anticipation of a fight in the littorals.
“We are looking to increase the capabilities of these Marines through a graduated approach,” said Chief Warrant Officer Amatangelo “AJ” Pasciuti, the gunner for Infantry Training Battalion–West.
Koury said a new 0311s graduating from the course will not be close to a recon level swimmer but, “will be a competent enough swimmer, and competent in the water, that whatever amphibious platform the Marine Corps decides to put him on, he can safely get from the water to the shore.”
The schoolhouse will not have a specific level of swimming the Marines are required to reach before passing, but that may change in future iterations of the course and when the final product is fully implemented, said Col. Coby Moran, commander for School of Infantry–West.
Beyond recon, the creators of the new course took a few tips from the Department of Homeland Security and the Expeditionary Operations Training Group on how to improve the individual Marines’ ability to use their service rifles.
The tips led to a reduced number of hours at the range, but ideally a better use of those hours, Pasciuti said.
“What we’re fundamentally doing is changing how we teach these weapons systems themselves,” Pasciuti said.
Pasciuti said the recent method of teaching marksmanship at the School of Infantry was like telling the students, “the stove is hot.” The current method is allowing the students to touch the stove and learn for themselves it’s hot ― in a safe environment.
The gunner explained that the Marines will use the Marathon targeting system, wheeled robots capable of different programmable behaviors that can recreate real reactions to being shot at.
“Those things are amazing,” Pasciuti said.
Through various iterations of these ranges, along with guided by the combat instructors, the students will slowly learn improved marksmanship skills.
They also will be able to get their hands on a wider variety of weapons, something that will have increased importance as the Corps plans on putting smaller and smaller units in more isolated and dispersed locations.
“Across every single weapon system that we’re teaching they’ll learn the fundamentals, they’ll learn the employment of the weapon system and then they’ll get to experiment with the employment in real life, live fire and force on force situations,” the gunner added.
The concept of fighting a near-peer opponent will be reinforced by multiple unscripted force-on-force exercises that will see 14-man squads of the students, led by a single sergeant instructor meant to guide rather than directly lead, faceoff against their peers.
They will be expected to conduct successful patrols, assaults, ambushes and defenses against their peers in multiple different environments, with each scenario getting more difficult as the course goes on.
The culminating event will see the Marines “deploy” to an expeditionary advanced base for roughly five days where they will work through the mission sets associated with the strategy.
Though the new training will have a heavy focus on the future, the current School of Infantry staff said it will balance the need for the future with the Corps’ need for the present.
“We can’t produce a product that’s chasing a future operating concept or environment that may never play out, they have to be relevant immediately,” Moran said.
“Ultimately the Marine that we produce through the IMC (program of instruction) is fundamentally at the most basic level of better infantry Marines, full stop,” he added. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Marine Times)
08 Mar 21. 4GD completes British Army immersive training SmartFacility installation. Close-combat immersive training specialist 4GD has completed the installation of a new Level 2 SmartFacility™ training solution for the British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester, Essex. The combat training environment installation, which commenced on 4 January, equips 16 Brigade with the most advanced 4GD close quarter battle training facility in the world.
The Level 2 facility delivers a high-tech non-ballistic close quarter battle environment to warfighters. The new facility will incorporate the SmartFacility core capability, SimWall (Level 1), and 4GAV (Level 2), a state-of-the-art special effects, video monitoring system and Intelligent Facility Management System (iFCS). The latter ensuring that this facility is compatible with 4GD’s recently launched ECFECTUS, a tactical performance data collection and analysis system, and ACIES, an integrated reality system that introduces the synthetic world to the physical SmartFacility environment.
SimWall is a rapidly reconfigurable, non-ballistic modular panel system. The panelling system offers users thousands of rooms and building variations, all reconfigurable within minutes to suit a range of specific mission scenarios and training objectives.
4GAV is a unique special effects and video monitoring system. Using a combination of smoke, light (white/IR), sound, smell and environmental simulation (SFX) it immerses the user in a high-fidelity combat simulation. This interactive special effects system, controlled by an intuitive user interface, delivers either sensor activated and reactive, or instructor-initiated effects, designed to heighten realism and replicate real-world effects on the soldier’s cognitive load.
Training missions undertaken in the SmartFacility are viewed and controlled by an instructor via an intuitive dual tablet display. The facility will also be equipped with a video feedback system for real-time and after-action review to ensure maximum training effects.
“The rise of military operations in urban terrain has forced a complete rethink of how we train personnel to plan for, execute and win close-combat missions on the modern battlefield,” James Crowley, Business Development Director, 4GD, said. “We have designed our SmartFacility to blend virtual and physical elements so that teams can prepare for their mission in an immersive facility that reflects the ever-changing and highly dynamic nature of the urban battlefield.”
16 Air Assault Brigade is the British Army’s airborne rapid reaction force. Specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and air-landing, the Brigades core role is to maintain the Air Assault Task Force, a battlegroup held at high readiness to deploy worldwide for a full spectrum of missions, from non-combatant evacuation ops to war fighting.
07 Mar 21. FURIOUS WOLF ~ JTAC Exercise In Estonia. On FURIOUS WOLF British, Estonian and Lithuanian JTACs are practising air-ground comms with Italian and German Eurofighter jets over Estonia.
Over the next two weeks, Allies, including Estonian, Lithuanian and British [TACP] air controllers, will practice air-ground communications with Italian and German Eurofighters flying over Northern Estonia as part of the FURIOUS WOLF exercise.
“The FURIOUS WOLF exercise is a great example of the unity and cooperation of different NATO forces,” said Colonel Paul Clayton, Commander of the Allied Battlegroup in Estonia. “The opportunity to conduct international exercises in every aspect, where in this case the Italian Eurofighters are controlled by the air controllers of the Baltic and Allied battle groups, shows not only the integration between the different units, but also the capabilities and readiness of NATO forces.”
According to Major Tanel Rattiste, Commander of the Air Force Air Support Squadron, such exercises between the Allies are of considerable importance. “FURIOUS WOLF created good conditions for practising cooperation between the air controllers of the Allied Battle Group in Estonia and the air controllers of the Estonian Air Force in order to create a common understanding of providing air support to manoeuvring units.”
The FURIOUS WOLF exercise takes place in the Baltics twice a year, with the aim of strengthening co-operation and enhancing integration between the various elements of NATO forces in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This year, the FURIOUS WOLF exercise started in Lithuania, where the participants gathered for the first half of the exercise to cooperate with the Italian Eurofighter Typhoon pilots at Šiauliai air base. In the second half of the exercise, air controllers will work in the Tapa military town and around Rakvere fortress.
Today, air controllers at Rakvere Fortress cooperated with Italian air security destroyers from Šiauliai air base in Lithuania. Next week, the German air security destroyers Eurofighter Typhoon, which are located at Ämari air base within the framework of the Baltic Air Policing Mission, will take part in the exercise.
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) is a certified and qualified person who, from a forward position, directs the attack of combat aircraft against hostile targets in the immediate vicinity of a manoeuvring unit. (Source: joint-forces.com)
04 Mar 21. North Macedonia And Romania Special Operations. Special Operations Forces from North Macedonia and Romania recently participated in the US-led Exercise COMBINED RESOLVE XV. Special Operations Forces from NATO Allies North Macedonia and Romania practised integrating with conventional forces during US-led Exercise COMBINED RESOLVE XV, held in Germany between 1 February and 5 March 2021.
The SOF operators from the North Macedonia Special Operations Battalion, nicknamed the ‘Wolves’, worked with their Allied counterparts from the Romanian Army’s 51st Special Operations Battalion and US Army Special Forces to support conventional units from different Allied and partner nations. To safeguard against COVID-19 infection, all participating nations tested their soldiers prior to and after deploying, and quarantined prior to the start of the exercise. Social distancing is practised wherever training conditions allow.
© NATO Multimedia
This NATO Multimedia footage includes shots of SOF operators training on air assault procedures, Romanian troops conducting a helicopter infiltration, missions in the field and interviews with a US Army Special Forces officer and an officer from North Macedonia. (Source: joint-forces.com)
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