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Trailblazer

Trailblazer is a joint task force training exercise held annually at Einseidlerhof Air Base, Germany. Joint Operations have become a typical tool of the United States. Operations such as Desert Storm (Iraq), Provide Comfort (Turkey/Iraq) and Deny Flight (Bosnia) have highlighted the need for flexibility and mobile power. TrailBlazer is a true step forward towards the military force of the future: efficient, quick and, most importantly, united.

Hundreds of military professionals from all services joined together 06-15 July 1994 for the USAFE sponsored USEUCOM Joint Force Air Component (JFACC) simulation exercise, TrailBlazer II, at the Warrior Preparation Center (WPC), Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany. Representatives from NAVEUR, USEUCOM, USAREUR and the Marine Corps, Air Force Space Command, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and Joint Electronic Warfare Center, joined to defend the fictional "Blueland" and "Greenland." The JFACC defended the countries from a vicious attack by Orangeland and its allies. The WPC's experienced Opposing Forces Team of experts and the Sembach Combined Air Operations Center offered a deadly interactive challenge using many modern land, air and seaborne weapons systems.

The training provided realistic battle staff training, so JFACC commanders will have a "hands on" understanding of how to handle future conflicts in the real world. The Warrior Preparation Center is the largest U.S. facility for computer driven simulation of its kind. Using the official simulation protocols for the Navy, Air Force and Army, it is capable of integrating all of the systems into a real life situation.

This was the second attempt at a truly joint training experience. The Navy sent fifty-five staffmembers, under Vice Admiral Mazach who is Deputy Director of the operations to Major General Santarelli. The Navy contingent included two fleet commands, three battle staffs, Airlant, Surflant, personnel from two carriers and specialists in AEGIS systems, TLam and communications plus experts on every maritime and tactical aircraft in the Navy. In fact, the very operation of the exercise is itself a joint operation; the Air Force provided food and board, the Navy transportation, and the Marines the necessary extra personnel.

The exercise also tested mental and physical endurance, as the teams worked on a realistic, twelve hours on/twelve hours off schedule, complete with transition briefings. One aspect of the simulation requires Intelligence officers to gather information using real world techniques. Command decisions on all levels had to be made quickly, without hesitation based on information gathered by people they trust. The exercise is especially difficult because it was run by a real life opposing force composed of some of the most experienced personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The exercise marked the most sophisticated integration of the different technologies and strategies in the armed forces that is possible outside of a true war and is a first for everybody involved in many ways.

About 800 U.S. military men and women participated in Trailblazer '97, U.S. Air Forces in Europe's computer-simulated air operations exercise. The exercise rans Oct. 3-18, 1997. The multiservice exercise is taking place simultaneously at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the Warrior Preparation Center. Trailblazer '97 is designed to test the ability of U.S. forces to plan, coordinate and integrate the various components of a large air operation in support of U.S. and NATO objectives.

Simulated air operations -- under the umbrella of a joint task force, or JTF -- were commanded by Maj. Gen. William S. Hinton Jr., 3rd Air Force commander at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England. Lt. Gen. Richard C. Bethurem, 16th Air Force commander at Aviano AB, Italy, took charge of the JTF during the latter part of the exercise. The JTF staff planned and produced a daily plan for air operations over a fictional area, then direct the computerized execution of air operations based on the exercise scenario.

No actual flying occured during the exercise. Instead, flying operations were simulated via computers at the Warrior Preparation Center. Computer simulations provide an avenue to execute and evaluate the formation and operation of two consecutive JTFs and their supporting staffs at a fraction of the cost of using actual fighting forces. Flying the missions planned by the Combined Task Force Air Component command staff would be time and cost intensive.

The exercise was carried out using an advanced technology synthetic battlefield from the Warrior Preparation Center. The Warrior Preparation Center is the largest computer simulation organization in Europe. The computer-assisted exercise center is jointly operated by USAFE and U.S Army Europe, and contains the latest in simulation technology.

Several USAFE units participated in the exercise with the largest contingency involving about 200 people from USAFE headquarters at Ramstein. Other interservice assets included personnel from U.S. Navy Europe headquarters, London, England; U.S. Army Europe headquarters, Heidelberg, Germany; and Marine Forces Europe headquarters, Boeblingen, Germany.

Members of all four military services participated in the Trailblazer 2000 joint task force training exercise. The exercise prepared potential staff members of a 3rd Air Force-led joint task force that could be established to respond to a contingency. About 60 airmen from the 3AF staff, headquartered at RAF Mildenhall, England, joined 80 other USAFE airmen from Ramstein Air Base to form the nucleus of a joint task froce that included service members from the other component services in U.S. European Command. In addition to the academics, Trailblazer 2000 gave JTF members realistic command and control training at a fraction of the cost associated with a full-scale live field exercise.



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