“I’ve heard people say ‘I only care about the Americans, I’m not worried about multinational partners.’ Well, I don’t see it that way, “explains Major General (Ret) Kurt Crytzer, acting as the commander for the Special Operations Component Command (SOCC) during exercise Saber Junction 20, “You have to worry about our multinational partners because you need to build up their level of competence.”.
Saber Junction 20, took place in August at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany. The exercise involved more than 3,500 multinational participants, including 140 Multinational Special Operations Forces (SOF) from Albania, Moldova, and the United States, along with Lithunainan KASP (Lithuanian National Volunteer Force). The overall mission of Saber Junction was to assess the readiness of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade to execute unified land operations in a joint, combined environment and to promote interoperability with participating ally and Partner Nations.
Saber Junction 20 was the first time Moldova Special Forces took command of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG). The Moldovan SOTG commander was in charge of tasking the Special Operations Task Units (SOTUs) with missions from the SOCC. Additionally, the SOTG commander was involved in coordinating communications between his units and Conventional Forces.
“The SOTG commander performed very well with all advice that not only I was giving him but other advisors, including a U.S. Special Forces contingent there,” said MG (R) Crytzer. “I would give him advice, mentorship, and direction. I would hear that being articulated throughout his force. He would disseminate it down to those that need to know below him.”
To meet Saber Junction’s mission objectives, foreign militaries must work together to integrate members from different countries where English isn’t their first language.
“The integration has gone really well,” said a Special Forces Commander from 10th Special Forces Group. “We’ve gotten past the friction points with language barriers or differing tactics and now we are ready to tackle whatever problems come our way.”
After a rough start, the units learned from their mistakes by applying the lessons learned from the previous missions. They also applied the advice from the SOCC and the Observer Coach Trainers (OCTs).
“I saw an improvement in how they plan concepts of the operation. The actions on the objective of the first two were pretty rough,” explains MG (R) Crytzer. “They had trouble initially with movement, not doing thorough reconnaissance prior to moving to a target, not having checkpoints or control measures along the way. That improved dramatically with a little mentorship.”