IZMIR, Turkey (November 26, 2019). NATO Allied Land Command hosted the first ever Partner Land Commanders' Conference Tuesday, emulating similar partner events by NATO's Allied Air Command and Maritime Command among others. The event, chaired by LANDCOM Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Richard Cripwell (GBR-A) on behalf of LANDCOM Commander Lt. Gen. J.T. Thomson (USA-A), was attended by 16 of the 24 NATO Partnership Interoperability Initiative Nations.
With 16 general officers totalling 26 stars present at the conference it was an incredibly high level event, with a number of nations represented by their Land Commanders. The participants met during an Icebreaker event the evening before the conference began, providing an opportunity for an informal greeting before the main briefings and discussions began the following day.
Lt. Gen. Cripwell opened the conference recalling the unity and cohesion he witnessed the night prior during their informal gathering.
"Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules and I look forward to your contributions," he said from the podium in the historic theatre
building in LANDCOM's Izmir compound. "If it is anything like last night's ice-breaker, I can only assume we will generate some noise, and genuine warmth!"
Interoperability with NATO allows for the Partner Nations to develop a cohesive relationship in order to enable the sharing of knowledge that does not exist in other nations. Lt. Gen. Cripwell recalled his experience with the nation of Jordan.
"I know that Jordanian officers provided hands-on training advice to the British Army in its attempts to train Libyan militias into more coherent organisations," he said. Those cultural insights, so valuable, are hard to come by."
The theme for the conference was
Interoperability in the Land Domain and included a number of guest speakers from the various partner nations as well as across the NATO Alliance. One conference objective was to increase partner awareness of the opportunities to work with NATO to fill capability gaps in both the Alliance and well as in Partner Nations. This leads to increased interoperability.
"NATO defines interoperability as 'The ability to act together coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve tactical, operational and strategic objectives.
No distinction is made between partners and members of NATO," said Col. Hakan Demirel (TUR-A), LANDCOM Assistant Chief of Staff, G7.
There were a number of guest speakers at the event including Lt. Gen. Dennis Gyllenspǿrre, the Commander of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali. He spoke about the advantages the mission has thanks to the multitude of national contributions and also its challenges.
"MINUSMA is a truly multinational mission with 57 countries involved," he said. This brings together a lot of skills and experience, which is a strength, but also a counter strength as you have to ensure the right level of trust exists within the unit. The cultural mind-set can be a challenge, as the understanding of a peace keeping can be different between nations."
Jonathan Parish, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations, briefed the audience on the new One Partner One Plan initiative being developed at NATO headquarters. The initiative will allow for NATO to develop mutually agreed objectives with each partner nation and then align them with NATO objectives. The new approach paves the way for specific cooperation with Partner Nations rather than the previous broad brushed approach.
"One Partner, One plan will lead to improvements in interoperability in the land domain, and I am confident that the future of land forces interoperability with you, is in good hands," said Mr Parish.
The final guest speaker of the event was Brig. Gen. William D. "Hank" Taylor, the Deputy Advisor to the Ministry of Defence of Afghanistan. His brief covered the current situation in Afghanistan and advances that are continue to be made there regarding interoperability of the international forces based in the country. He emphasized efforts made by the Commander of the Resolute Support
Mission in Afghanistan to have one entirely linked mission computer and information
system to enable rapid and coherent passage of information between the users.
The event closed with brief talks from two Partner Nation Officers currently serving at LANDCOM. The two officers, Lt. Col Abulfat Abdulayev of Azerbaijan, and Lt. Col. Vasyl Pichnenko of Ukraine, are filling two of the Partner Staff Posts available at the Headquarters . Seeing the two officers
discuss their experiences in LANDCOM gave
attendees a first-hand view of
the benefits of having their own officer's serve in a NATO headquarters, both for the partner nation and for NATO. LANDCOM currently has 17 positions available for Partner Nations, of which 3 are currently filled.
Partner nations that travelled to Izmir for the event included Finland, Georgia, New Zealand, Japan, Serbia, Morocco, Ukraine, Mongolia, Switzerland, Australia, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Jordan.
For more information on Military Partnership at LANDCOM, visit https://lc.nato.int/operations/military-partnership.