US Army Europe and NATO's IT arm have signed an agreement in March increasing support for the US elements of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence in the East, ahead of their deployment.
As part of the Joint Partnership Statement, the NATO Communication and Information (NCI) Agency will provide new solutions to US Army Europe, further enhancing how it interacts with forces from other Allied Nations.
Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, US Army Europe Commander, welcomed the partnership with the Agency.
He commented: "US Army Europe considers NCI Agency a strategic partner in establishing and maintaining robust, reliable Command and Control networks.
The enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) provides a real opportunity to validate Mission Command in support of the NATO Command Structure and formations from four different Nations."
NATO decided at the 2016 Warsaw Summit to strengthen its deterrence and defence posture by establishing an enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
The United States is leading one of the four multinational battalion-size battle groups and will deploy troops to Poland in April. The other battalions based in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are led by the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany respectively.
Lieutenant General Hodges explained that the Agency would support US Army Europe by developing and implementing a robust operational network at Mission Secret level for the eFP mission.
This will be done in collaboration with Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum, in the Netherlands, and Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE) in Szczecin, Poland.
"The eFP Mission Secret Command and Control network could be the first real world application of the Federated Mission Network concept and may prove value added to NATO alliance for years to come."
Lieutenant General Hodges believes the Mission Information Room (MIR) provided by the NCI Agency, which uses the cloud to deliver the mission secret network and applications, will prove crucial to the success of US Army Europe operations.
"The Mission Information Rooms (MIR), as developed by NCI Agency and managed by JFC-Brunssum and JFC-Naples, hosting NATO's Functional Systems is a powerful concept and tool for multinational interoperability. The MIR, if used properly, could be a 'digital power projecting platform' allowing for planning and collaboration in the earliest stages of an operation then quickly translate into Command and Control functions for the follow on phases of the operation."
He added: "Developing an MIR dedicated to the eFP mission for planning and Command and Control between MNC NE, the four contributing nation battlegroups, Host Nations and troop-contributing Nations would be the communication technology most required in order to face future operational challenges. The eFP mission is a forcing function to implement the full power of the Federated Mission Network concept and prove NATO's ability to quickly and seamlessly integrate multiple national forces providing a creditable example of assurance and deterrent within Europe.
The key to success is that Mission Command capability is plug and play with all members of the Alliance. In order for units to be effective, they must be interoperable in three key areas. They must be able to talk secure voice, execute a digital fire mission and have the ability to see a Common Operational Picture."
US Army Europe is the Agency's third customer to sign a Joint Partnership Statement.
Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey and Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in Northwood, United Kingdom have both signed similar agreements, declaring their commitment to a strategic partnership in support of the NATO First Solution.
The aim of the NATO First Solution is to re-use as much as possible the capabilities that NATO develops under common funding, promoting synergies between common and nationally-funded programs and services.