VICENZA, Italy – Last week, more than 350 U.S. service members flooded Caserma Ederle, a small U.S. Army base in Northern Italy, for a 10-day joint force command post exercise that began April 4.
Soldiers of the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa stationed here, joined service members from U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Reserve and others from inter-agency organizations to establish and operate a joint task force headquarters.
The CPX tested SETAF-AF’s ability to form the nucleus of a JTF HQ in support of USAFRICOM.
“The combatant commander needs a rapidly deployable, joint task force-capable headquarters for contingencies in Africa,” said SETAF-AF Commanding General Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Rohling. “That is exactly what SETAF-AF is and does.”
SETAF-AF has performed this task in real-world scenarios a number of times in its 68-year history, most recently in 2014 during the Ebola crisis, when it established a joint forces command in Liberia before transferring authority to the 101st Airborne Division.
“Our job is to get there first, set up and organize the joint task force in support of USAFRICOM,” Rohling said. “What we do as a JTF depends on the tools we are given, so we have to be ready for just about anything.”
The CPX scenario environment included elements of joint, combined arms maneuver and fires, humanitarian support activities, space and information operations, and foreign diplomacy.
Members of USAFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany, and the J7 Directorate for Joint Training and Development, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Suffolk, Virginia, provided the strategic environment and direction for the exercise.
“Without a doubt, the training support and scenario environment provided by the (JCS) J7 is world class,” Rohling said. “All the participants in this exercise are being stressed across all joint domains, and I’m positive they will come out of this exercise with more confidence in their skillsets, especially as they integrate them with the joint team.”
The J7 Joint Training and Exercise Division provides joint training “for Combatant Commands, designated Joint and Combined Force Headquarters, and Coalition Partners,” according to the JCS Web site.
Many of the participating troops in the CPX are scheduled to come together again in July for Exercise African Lion 22 in Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana. There they will join more than 7,000 other U.S., Allies and partner participants in USAFRICOM's largest, multinational joint exercise. AL22 is a joint, all domain, multi-component, and multi-national exercise, which will employ a full array of mission capabilities with the continued goal of strengthening interoperability among participants.