The main goals of the training exercise Immediate Response 2012 was to strengthen security and stability in the region and boost interoperability between NATO and its partner countries.
By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 25/06/12
Private Jacob Pharr, a radio operator with US Army, co-ordinates a mission update with his Bosnia and Herzegovina partner. [US Army Europe]
A regional military exercise, sponsored by the US European Command (EUCOM), included more than 700 soldiers from the region and the US in Slunj, Croatia. Troops came from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albanian, Slovenia, Macedonia and Serbia, working together to establish a common approach to tactics and procedures.
The exercise, called Immediate Response 2012, was held from May 26th to June 10th at the Eugen Kvaternik training area. Sponsored by EUCOM and the United States Army-Europe, it was based on a prepared scenario.
"It's a series of compact scenarios that allow them to get right to the meat of some of the training challenges they have," EUCOM Colonel Andrew Heppelmann, the co-director of the exercise, said.
Troops from the six countries -- Macedonia and Serbia just observed -- were combined into a multinational force to practice the response to violation of regional security.
With so many nations involved, the need to establish a common procedure was great, Heppelmann said.
"We need to establish a baseline so that we fundamentally understand what actions need to be taken for a movement to contact," Heppelmann said. "When the company commander tells an Albanian platoon, or a Croatian platoon or even a US platoon to go do a movement to contact, he's got in his mind what that means and doing these STX [situational training exercise] lanes helps to make sure that each of these platoons has the same idea in their mind."
Strengthening of security and stability in the region and interoperability between NATO and partnering countries are main purposes of Immediate Response 2012.
"Work based on NATO procedures in a multinational environment improves professional performances as well as friendship and trust between the countries and, above all, the stability of the whole region. Regional projects, including joint participation in peacekeeping missions, have an extraordinary value," Montenegro Vice-Admiral Dragan Samardzic told SETimes.
The Croatian Defence Ministry said that building good neighbourly relations -- which could develop good political co-operation in addition -- was another main goal.
"[Immediate Response 2012] is a joint exercise of interoperability through the simulation of real scenarios to prepare individuals and units of the armed forces of the region for joint action," the ministry said in a statement for SETimes.
Although Serbia didn't have active role in the event, some local experts have very positive thoughts on this event.
Jelena Milic, the director of Centre for Euro Atlantic Studies in Belgrade, told SETimes that the number of participants made this exercise unique.
"Considering the fact that some of these countries, separately and only by [themselves], do not have capacities to resist complex global challenges, this Immediate Response 12 has vital importance."