CTC 19-02 was the 18th iteration of the event and took place December 3 - 6 at Istanbul's Multinational Joint Warfare Centre (MJWC). Nearly 400 participants attended representing the NATO command structure (NCS), NATO Force Structure (NFS), and thirty-nine NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. Participants actively engaged in training exercise presentations, syndicate work and various breakout sessions.
For the LANDCOM G7 team led by Assistant Chief of Staff for Training (G7), Turkish Army Colonel Hakan Demirel, work began with the G7 Conference. This event proved an excellent opportunity to discuss and promote mutual training support among the NATO command and force structure elements. The group also discussed the exercise program for 2020 - 2022 and the expected signing of SAGE 22 by Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force General Tod Wolters, in January 2020.
The remainder of the week was spent facilitating open forums for nations and NATO entities to discuss upcoming exercises and opportunities for increased participation and training value for the Alliance. During his key note speech at the event, LANDCOM Commander U.S. Army Lieutenant General J.T. Thomson reinforced the value of the conference by sharing his philosophy and experiences regarding training, exercises and interoperability in NATO, as well as his outlook for the coming years. He stressed the importance of tough, realistic training in the face of resurgent threats to the Alliance.
"Bottom line, and I don't have to tell you this, we want our toughest day to be in training, not in combat," Lieutenant General Thomson said when citing anecdotes from his personal experiences. "War is a very unforgiving act for those not prepared."
The event was successful in bringing a large audience together to share a diverse set of ideas and experiences in pursuit of readiness as the common goal. The week's effort set a firm foundation for many successful exercises and a more effective NATO land force. Participants left MJWC with an improved understanding of future training and exercises as well as their role in the world's strongest military alliance.
Lieutenant General Thomson closed his remarks by emphasizing the training rigor Alliance leaders owe to those entities depending on them for their own defence and security.
"Our first duty, all of us in here, is to our soldiers, is to our nations, and is to our Alliance. It's readiness. In the wise words of SACEUR, he defines readiness as being responsive, is being resilient, is being lethal," he said.
Story by U.S. Army Captain Andrew Ukrop, LANDCOM G7