MIHAIL KOGĂLNICEANU AIRBASE, Romania – Special operations forces personnel from nine partner nations came together for the opening ceremony of Jackal Stone 11 held Sept. 17 in Romania.
Jackal Stone, hosted this year by Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, is an annual multinational special operations forces (SOF) exercise coordinated by U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). With 1,400 SOF and support enablers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Ukraine participating, Jackal Stone is the largest SOF exercise of its kind in Europe.
Welcoming the participants on behalf of the Romania Ministry of Defense to his homeland, Maj. Gen. Illie Botos, the Chief of Romanian Intelligence Directorate, thanked members of the formation for coming to train together and strengthen their relationships.
Romania has participated in the annual event since its inception in 2008, which Botos highlighted during his remarks.
“For Romanian Special Operations Forces, Jackal Stone was and still is the perfect tool to build the required capabilities and achieve interoperability between the participating forces,” Botos said. “Jackal Stone has become critically important for national SOF development that meets North Atlantic Treaty Organization standards of interoperability.”
Botos added that lessons identified and learned from his country’s participation in Jackal Stone has been beneficial in developing SOF capabilities, combat readiness and the ability to prepare, plan, conduct and assess full spectrum SOF specific missions.
After graciously thanking all of the hosts of this year’s event, Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, SOCEUR commander, remarked on the significance of the training exercise.
“Today’s ceremony culminates a year of planning and begins a week of exceptional training and cooperation,” said. Repass. “Jackal Stone allows us to place special emphasis on our ability and desire to train with each other during those times and demonstrates our resolve to rise to challenges we will certainly face together.”
Repass particularly emphasized how this year’s rendition of Jackal Stone features some very important firsts for the exercise.
“It will be the first time we will have four tactical operating locations. This adds another layer of complexity to this exercise’s command and control relationships, but is very realistic in what we have experienced,” said Repass.
Another change for this years exercise, Repass explained, is how the exercise planners moved to a combined joint force special operations component command framework, which will better align their processes with NATO.
Other firsts for Jackal Stone 11 include: incorporating changeable tactical scenarios and using forensic-enabled intelligence to positively identify targets.
“We are certainly building on last year’s success,” said Repass.
After the ceremony, the official party observed a live-tactical demonstration conducted by a maritime Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) consisting of Naval SOF from Norway, Romania, Ukraine and the U.S. at the Constanta Military Harbor.
The demonstration featured the SOTG fast-roping from a Romanian Puma IAR330 helicopter and conducting a Vehicle, Board, Search and Seizure operation from rigid inflatable boats on board a Romanian ship to clear the ship of enemy targets.