General Vecihi Akin Garrison in Izmir, Turkey
On March 27 and 28, in a scene reminiscent of an old World War II movie, commanders and their advisors gather in a room where a large map is laid out upon a stage as boxes, plaques, flags and other pieces representing friendly and enemy forces are moved around to represent the execution of strategic and tactical plans. Leading this rehearsal of concept, better known as a RoC drill, is U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, Commander of the NATO Headquarters Allied Land Command.
Williams gathered planners, intelligence experts and senior military leaders from more than 15 NATO contributing nations at General Vecihi Akin Garrison in Izmir, Turkey. These nations were brought here to discuss the enhanced Forward Presence rotation in the European Theatre.
"The eFP RoC Drill give the opportunity for 15 nations to come together, and see ourselves, the environment and potential adversaries, and synchronize all of the activity in the land domain." said Williams.
The eFP concept is a NATO led mission of credible defense and deterrence of its outlying borders. These borders consist of four nations; Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Even though the borders consist of these four nations, NATO does not rely on them alone. They are only a part of a broader deterrence and defense posture that involves national home defense with other NATO forces tailored to geographic host nation requirements and other considerations. This includes enhanced NATO's rapid reaction force that has a size of over 40,000 available personnel, with reserves as needed.
"The eFP RoC Drill has allowed all eFP participants to assess and measure a wide range of responses to many situations. It is clear our defensive measures are balanced, robust and effective," said Brigadier General Valdemaras Rupsys, the Land Forces Commander Lithuanian National Armed Forces. ''The integration of this Battle Group also provides significant training opportunities and strengthens our interoperability.''
NATO is enhancing its forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance on a rotational basis. These rotations consist of multinational battalion sized battle groups that will demonstrate the strength of NATO's unity, making it clear that an attack on one Ally would be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. Military effectiveness is the driver for the composition of forces and each is reinforced with specific capabilities with solidarity and determination to defend NATO territory against any possible aggression.
''We are unified in our resolve to defend our territory and in supporting NATO's collective defense," said Major General Slawomir Wojciechowski, Operational Commander to the Polish Armed Forces. "We are well motivated and our response to any potential threat is significant.''
The RoC drill was a way for senior leaders from across NATO to gather and share their contributions to the mission of deterrence and defense. It was designed to test capabilities and flexibility to emerging threats, and to visually map out a multinational response to actions that may prevent conflicts, protect Allies and preserve peace. It also served as a venue to strengthen ongoing operational partnerships and uphold NATO values across all nations. Cooperation in events such as these makes NATO a stronger and more versatile defensive force and reinforces the combat capabilities of small, agile and potent forces.
"We have to make sure we get this right," Williams said. "Somewhere down there on the map are individual NATO service members. Some of them have 120 pounds of gear on their back, doing what they do best, and we need to ensure that we make the right decisions here… now… so that they can effectively and safely accomplish their missions when called upon."