ULM, Germany. The Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) recently hosted a two-day Force Protection (FP) Conference from 11 to 12 July at the prestigious Wilhelmsburg Barracks in Ulm. The event brought together military experts and representatives from various NATO Headquarters within Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility, representatives from Headquarters United States European Command in Stuttgart, Headquarters United States Army Europe and Africa in Wiesbaden as well as from the Central Hospital of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany in Koblenz. With a particular focus on ways and means on how to better protect the Reinforcement-by-Forces and Sustainment Network (RSN) the conference aimed at achieving a common understanding regarding FP in the RSN-context, on the delineation of associated responsibilities between stakeholders involved as well as discussing approaches and potential products in order to develop and maintain a FP-related situation picture focused on the RSN.
In his welcome address, the commander of the JSEC, Lieutenant General Alexander Sollfrank, encouraged conference participants to engage openly and directly in discussions.(OR-4 Gina Seegert)
Force Protection is one of the critical aspects of our operations, particularly in the context of reinforcement-by-forces and sustainment. This conference complements JSEC's other efforts to support the development of the RSN and serves as another valuable forum for experts from various NATO, US HQs and other entities to exchange perspectives and best practices in favor of an envisaged better protected and more resilient RSN and ultimately optimizing our collective defense posture.
Colonel (GS) Roman Krause, JSEC OPS J3 J33
Force Protection from a NATO perspective is defined as “measures and means to minimize the vulnerability of personnel, facilities, equipment, material, operations and activities from threats and hazards to preserve freedom of action and operational effectiveness thereby contributing to mission success” (Source: AJP-3.14 FP). FP enables the force to survive in a hostile environment, maintains the force´s capability to operate, and employs capabilities to reduce the likelihood of adversarial effects.
JSEC does not have organic FP enablers, nor command authority over other FP enablers. However, with its AOR-wide perspective, JSEC can help to better protect the RSN by providing holistic advice to FP stakeholders across SACEUR's AOR on RSN-related FP requirements. Given the limited FP resources, for example in the field of air defence, it is necessary to identify the most vulnerable RSN elements before allocating and deploying scarce FP resources. This ambitious process and the challenges it brings make JSEC an important facilitator.
Reinforcement-by-Forces and Sustainment
One of the primary objectives of the conference was to identify FP requirements concerning the RSN as a major contributor to SACEUR’s mission success. With the evolving nature of security threats, the ability to swiftly deploy and to reinforce NATO forces is paramount. Discussions centered around identifying protection needs for certain parts of the RSN and developing strategies to delineate the responsibilities for necessary actions amongst the pertinent stakeholders. By sharing insights and best practices, participants worked towards creating an initial framework to bolster a future state of a better protected RSN.
The event brought together military experts and representatives from various NATO Headquarters within Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility. (OR-4 Gina Seegert)
Recognized RSN Force Protection Picture
Additionally, the development and the future maintenance of a RSN FP-related situational picture played a vital role in the conference's agenda. Conference participants dealt very intensively with questions such as sharing of and access to FP-related data sources, approaches to assess such data, how to achieve proper granularity of information, and ways to display this information. The discussions aimed at defining and developing a common product, which could be called a Recognized RSN Force Protection Picture (RRFPP), a future element of JSEC’s Consolidated Reinforcement-by-Forces and Sustainment Picture, JSEC’s “CRSP”.
By addressing Force Protection requirements related to the Reinforcement-by-Forces and Sustainment Network, this conference has taken a substantial step towards achieving a common understanding among our allied forces on shared responsibilities and expectations. Through collaboration, data, information and knowledge sharing, we can better protect our personnel, our resources, and the RSN, ensuring the readiness and effectiveness of our operations."Lieutenant General Alexander Sollfrank, Commander Joint Support and Enabling Command
Seeking a Common Understanding
The JSEC RSN Force Protection Conference provided a venue for participants to engage in open and constructive dialogues, with the goal of achieving a common understanding on FP in the RSN context. Through presentations, and collaborative syndicates, attendees shared their expertise, fostering a collective approach to addressing security challenges. By aligning and forming a common understanding concerning the threat to the RSN and required follow-on actions, as well as on roles, responsibilities and authorities regarding the utilization and protection of the RSN, the conference strengthened the ties between all FP stakeholders involved and helped to advance towards a better protected RSN.