US Army Europe faces future training questions

13th August 2020 - 12:33 GMT | by Trevor Nash in Holsworthy


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With President Trump’s decision to remove nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, questions are being asked about the long-term viability of 7 Army Training Command’s two major German training areas, Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels.

As well as hosting live training for the US Army, both training areas provide training facilities for a number of other NATO nations. Hohenfels, for example, is currently hosting part of Exercise Saber Junction 20.

Participating nations include Albania, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania and Ukraine.

Saber Junction 20 is focused on a joint forcible entry today. We try to rapidly converge forces from across the European theatre to fight a decisive action battle against the near-peer adversary,’ said Lt Col Phillip Lamb, from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) based at Hohenfels.

JMRC focuses on multinational interoperability and delivers what it terms, ‘a realistic, complex operational environment supported by observer/coach-trainers’.

More than 4,000 participants from the US and allied and partner nations are taking part in Saber Junction 20 at Hohenfels and Grafenwöhr training areas until 27 August.

Both Hohenfels (163km²) and Grafenwöhr (233km²) are used to conduct multinational and training for US forces and provide a number of complex ranges for infantry, armour and air-to-ground firing.

One of the latest units to finish its annual training at Grafenwöhr has been 7th Mission Support Command (7 MSC) that took part in exercises Forward and Ready 20. The unit is the only US Army Reserve command stationed in Germany with units across Europe and as such, relies heavily on the two sites for its training.

Other units training at the two sites in the past few weeks have included the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) who conducted live-fire door gunnery alongside 12th CAB’s 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), which undertook a medevac hoist exercise at Grafenwöhr Training Area.

12th CAB also deployed to Hohenfels to conduct underslung load training using its CH-47 aircraft.

As many political commentators have highlighted, President Trump’s decision to remove US troops from Germany sends a mixed message to Russia as to the US’s commitment to NATO.

On a more prosaic level, many commanders fear that if the US military presence in Europe dwindles to the extent where critical mass is lost, one or both of their training areas will close. That will be a major loss to the US, and to its NATO allies and partner nations.

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