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NATO Land Command Fully Operational, Says Commander

Lt. Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the NATO Allied Land Command, reports to NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Phillip Breedlove that LANDCOM is at fully operational, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Dec. 10, 2014. Michael Darnell/Stars and Stripes
Lt. Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the NATO Allied Land Command, reports to NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Phillip Breedlove that LANDCOM is at fully operational, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Dec. 10, 2014. Michael Darnell/Stars and Stripes

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — NATO’s Allied Land Command has finally reached full operational capacity, LANDCOM commander Lt. Gen. John Nicholson said at the close on Wednesday of NATO’s largest training exercise since the end of the Cold War.

One aim of the exercise, Trident Lance, was to test how well a fully operational LANDCOM — which is charged with improving the effectiveness and reaction time of the alliance’s land forces — could respond to an international crisis. In this case, the scenario dealt with the hypothetical invasion of NATO member Estonia, which borders Russia at NATO’s northeastern corner.

To that end, more than 3,700 troops took part in scenarios, simulated with both computer and traditional training events, that included everything from missile strikes to cyber attacks.

The bulk of Trident Lance was based out of the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr. Command elements from Poland, Greece and Turkey also took part, while U.S. Army in Europe provided a hefty logistical contribution.

Nicholson was joined by Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Phillip Breedlove and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation French Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros in talking about how Trident Lance reflects the new reality of military operations in Europe.

“Two years ago the head of states and government of NATO decided to reinvest in training and exercises because they felt that we needed to regain our readiness after two decades of operations and to keep the lessons that we have learned through the operations,” Palomeros said. “Today, this connective forces initiative is a reality, and we see that through this exercise.

Even though this exercise has been in the planning stages for years, growing tensions in eastern Europe have given it added importance, Breedlove said.

“As you have seen over the past few months, Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine have triggered the alliance to begin a series of assurance and adaptation measures to assure our allies and adapt our military organizations to the new security environment in Europe,” he said.

“Trident Lance is a part of what will be a persistent and continuous level of activity, to include exercises large and small to ensure our forces are prepared to respond on short notice when needed.”

Nicholson added that some of the lessons learned from Trident Lance would be applied as NATO LANDCOM stands up its future rapid-reaction force.

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount through the exercise, but we’re also confident that coming out of this exercise we’re very capable, and we as an alliance are capable, of conducting large-scale land operations.”

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