The U.S. Army has planned a major multinational warfighter exercise – Warfighter 21-4 – for April 6-15, with the simulation of a corps-level battle involving a U.S., U.K. and French Army tactical divisions.
The exercise involves thousands of troops and support personnel, distributed across multiple installations including Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Grafenwoehr, Germany.
It’s another step in the Army’s ongoing readiness efforts to reinforce its ability to conduct large–scale combat operations with unified action partners.
The exercise strengthens U.S., U.K. and French interoperability at multiple echelons, according to the U.S. Army’s exercise directive.
U.K. and French forces will train their ability to operate effectively within a U.S. corps. The combined formations are integrated down to the brigade-level with a U.K. brigade operating within a U.S. division, and U.S. brigade combat teams in U.K. and French divisions.
“There’s a joint vision statement between the Chief of the General Staff, head of the U.K. Army, and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army that will see us be interoperable by 2025,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Elviss, 3rd U.K. Division commander.
“What that means is we would place a British division under command of a U.S. corps and a British brigade under command of a U.S. division. The warfighter is the preeminent exercise [to do that].”
“It’s a proper multinational corps fighting against the World-Class Opposing Force,” said Elviss.
Maj. Gen. Laurent Michon, 3rd French Division commander, highlighted the substantial amount of training his division conducted in preparation for the exercise, and the value the exercise has for his formation.
“We’ve had eight months of training before coming to Texas, especially at the divisional level. Such an exercise as the warfighter is wonderful to gain time and to learn much. It is hard training, so it is very good for high intensity conflicts,” said Michon.
The U.S. Army has specific training objectives for its corps. Fort Hood-based III Corps is being tested and trained as a tactical corps headquarters performing command and control over multinational forces in a complex operational environment.
Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) expeditionary combat training center, Mission Command Training Program (MCTP), under Combined Arms Center-Training, is orchestrating the exercise. They’ve been tasked to establish a mission partner environment (MPE) with III Corps to enable the training audiences to build decisive action readiness for large scale combat operations.
“Warfighter 21-4 is the largest exercise for MCTP in 35 years and is a critical step in advancing the Army’s multi-national interoperability objectives,” said Col. Charles Lombardo, Combined Arms Center-Training Deputy Commander.
Successfully establishing the MPE is the first test of interoperability. MPE is a joint framework intended to replicate how a corps fights with multinational partners. It establishes an operating environment that allows command and control for operations, support, planning and execution on a common network infrastructure.
In addition, the Army for the first time will implement the Army Interoperability Measurement System (AIMS). The system will assess current interoperability levels between the U.S. and the U.K., and the U.S. and French units. TRADOC’s Center for Army Lessons Learned will deploy collection and analysis teams to collect observations, lessons, and best practices and provide input into AIMS.
The warfighter exercise represents a substantial investment toward gaining interoperability, borne by the U.S. and its allies. All elements involved will undoubtedly leverage successes and mistakes as dividends of lessons learned to enable success in future operations.