Joint Training on the Way
for Joint Fighters
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2003 – A Marine unit facing combat runs
into opposition. The call goes out for fire support. In the past,
the call would likely have gone to a Marine artillery unit or air
Today, that call could go to an Army helicopter unit or an Air
Force precision-strike aircraft. It could go to a Navy fighter-bomber
staging off a carrier or even to a submarine that would launch
a Tomahawk missile.
In other words, the joint force is now a reality and the American
military must train as it fights. Along with the rest of the military,
DoD is transforming the way the services train.
The world has dramatically changed, said Paul Mayberry, deputy
defense undersecretary for readiness. "The strategic environment
has changed," Mayberry said during an interview, "and
the United States military must change also."
The American military no longer confronts a known enemy with standing
forces. U.S. personnel have to train to fight major combat operations,
but they also need to train to handle smaller contingencies. The
American military's emphasis now is on flexibility and adaptability,
Mayberry said. The military must be able to deal with surprise,
uncertainty and asymmetric threats.
At the same time the American military is moving away from large
permanent standing organizations with large support elements backing
them up, Mayberry said. Joint task forces will handle these contingencies,
and the JTFs will generally be "smaller and highly distributed
joint and combined forces."
The biggest transformation in training will be the emphasis on
joint operations. "We fight as a joint team," Mayberry
said. "We must train routinely in a joint environment."
The Joint National Training Capability is the centerpiece of the
new training initiative. "The ultimate end state of JNTC is
that no individual, unit or staff enters combat prior to being
able to fully experience the complexity and stress of their joint
requirements in a robust and realistic training environment," he
The capability was initially supposed to be a Joint National Training
Center – a place where joint task forces would train before
But the thinking changed and experience showed that the center
does not have to be a physical place, but a way to link forces
throughout the world. So an Army unit, for example, training at
the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., could link
with Air Force units training out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.,
Marine units training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and with Navy ships maneuvering off
the coast of California.
Or the units don't even have to be in the same hemisphere. Using
simulations, staffs can train wherever they can get a computer
connection. This would closely mirror the way the commands worked
together during Operation Iraqi Freedom, with staffs working closely
together even though based in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
and Tampa, Fla.
The goal is realistic joint training "against thinking and
adaptive oppositional forces," Mayberry said. Like the service
training areas, the Joint National Training Capability will have
instruments in place to help officials reconstruct battles and
a process that allows feedback leading to an after-action review.
Training transformation will allow the United States military
to function in a multinational coalition setting, Mayberry said.
It will also allow DoD to operate with other federal government
agencies as well as work with state and local governments.
The U.S. Joint Forces Command is in charge of the effort to set
up the JNTC. Now specialists are working to see if the military
training ranges can be linked together. Mayberry said this first
phase will culminate in January with the first JNTC exercise in
the western United States. The JNTC's initial operating capability
is scheduled for October 2004, he said.
Mayberry said that DoD will spend $1.3 billion on this capability
through fiscal 2009, and he expects the capabilities to change
over time. "Just as the service training areas developed over
time, I expect the JNTC will grow as the idea matures," he