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Combined Endeavor

The Combined Endeavor exercise has grown to be one of the main vehicles to demonstrate and propagate new interoperability concepts. COMBINED ENDEAVOR (CE) is a series of US European Command-sponsored workshops planned and executed to identify and document command, control, communications, and computer (C4) interoperability between NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations. The primary focus of CE is interoperability testing of C4 systems and identification and documentation of problems hindering interoperability. The secondary focus is to develop long-range action plans that result in the achievement of increased levels of interoperability among NATO and the PfP nations. The goal is that by the year 2002, the participating nations will possess the ability to deploy as part of a coalition task force and be interoperable with NATO as well as among themselves. Each workshop builds upon the lessons learned and the interoperability demonstrated during the previous workshops.

The initial COMBINED ENDEAVOR (CE) workshop was conducted in 1995 at Kelly Barracks near Stuttgart, Germany. Participants included Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and the United States. As the foundational step in this multi-year effort, CE 95 focused on achieving the most basic level of interconnectivity, i.e., the 2wire subscriber line, between each of the participating nations' switches. No attempt was made during CE 95 to interconnect switches with trunk lines or to form switched networks.

COMBINED ENDEAVOR 95 [CE95] was the first in the series of interoperability workshops. Five conferences, held from March through August 1995, were attended by communication and logistic planners from each of the participating nations. A detailed operations plan (OPLAN), Coalition OPLAN 95-100, was developed for execution in September 1995, with switchboard interoperability as the focal point of the 10-day workshop held at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. Other objectives of CE95 included high frequency (HF) transmissions from the workshop site to the nations' capitals, secure voice and data communications over SY-71E secure telephone equipment provided by the U.S. and extending switchboard connectivity over radio relay equipment provided by the hosts. The CE95 workshop was successful in that interoperability was verified at the most rudimentary level. However, the most technical of tests were not accomplished and these shortfalls became the basis for CE96 objectives.

COMBINED ENDEAVOR 96 [CE96] was designed to expand in scope and complexity the accomplishments of CE95 by establishing technical objectives, developing a planning architecture to meet those objectives, and designing an operational plan to enable execution in the field. CE96 included the PfP nations of Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia; NATO was represented by the US, Germany, and Allied Land Forces Central Europe (LANDCENT). Over 300 U.S. military personnel, DoD civilians, and contractors, as well as over 270 participants from coalition and PfP nations combined to support the workshop.

The CE 96 workshop was conducted from 14 - 28 August 1996 at two sites: Sembach Airfield, Germany, and Bruck, Austria. Twelve nations participated in CE 96. These included all of the nations that participated in CE 95 joined by the Baltic States of Latvia and Lithuania. NATO was represented at CE 96 not only by Germany and the United States, but also by a United Kingdom (UK) military communications detachment from Allied Land Forces Central Europe (LANDCENT). COMBINED ENDEAVOR 96 built upon the the success of CE 95 by expanding interoperability testing to slightly more complex communications configura-tions. Switchboard testing focused on two-wire, six-wire, and digital interswitch trunks. A simple switched network was demonstrated which was based on the several interoperable NATO STANAG 5040 interswitch interface tests.

Austria's agreement to host one of the workshops set a significant precedent -- it was the first time Austria invited foreign military forces to conduct training on sovereign soil since the government eased its strict neutrality policy.

Over 3,300 C4 interoperability tests were conducted during the 2-week period in the technical areas of switchboard testing, transmission systems, HF transmissions, and secure voice/data communications over SY-71E secure telephone equipment provided by the U.S. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), with assistance from the Electronic Systems Center (ESC), documented testing and produced a PfP C4 Interoperability Reference using a previously-designed USEUCOM interoperability data base as the foundation. Combat Camera, represented by the 55th Signal Company, contributed still photographs for inclusion in the database and handbook, as well as videotape for visual documentation purposes.

All participants concluded that CE96 was a resounding success, which led to increased participation and improved testing objectives for CE97.

The CE 97 Communications and Information Systems (CIS) interoperability workshop was the most extensive multinational interoperability testing event ever conducted. From 9-23 June 1997 481 military and civilian personnel from 16 different Partnership for Peace and NATO nations came together to test interfaces among their equipment. The site for CE 97 was the Germersheim Army Depot in Germersheim, Germany. The equipment tested included switchboards, multichannel radio relay systems, high frequency (HF) radios, very high frequency (VHF) radios, and data networking devices. A complex multi-national switched network was also engineered, constructed, and tested. Estonia, France, Ukraine, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were participating in Combined Endeavor for the first time. The focus of CE 97 was testing of switchboard interoperability. Six-wire and digital interswitch trunk interfaces were tested among all capable switches. Interoperable point-to-point interswitch interfaces were then combined to construct and test complex switched networks. This network testing was a major step forward in the COMBINED ENDEAVOR program, demonstrating that true tactical coalition switched networks are feasible with PfP equipment functioning as communication nodes.

Deliberate planning is key to the success of the Combined Endeavor program. At the conclusion of CE 96 a panel of senior communicators from each of the participating nations established the focus and technical goals for the CE 97 workshop. The same panel chose the site and established resource sharing commitments. During three planning conferences, technical representatives from each nation formed multinational technical working groups for each type of testing. Together these working groups developed the CE 97 operation plan to ensure accomplishment of the technical goals. Another key element of the success of CE 97 was that the same representatives who developed the plan were on site during the workshop to execute the plan.

In cooperation with the German Ministry of Defense, the United States European Command sponsored a communications and information systems interoperability exercise at Sembach Air Base, Germany, 7-21 May 1998. The most extensive multinational interoperability testing event ever conducted, Combined Endeavor 98 provided an opportunity for 28 nations to find solutions to challenges faced on a regular basis. The exercise was conducted in a joint and combined military environment, enabling NATO and Partnership for Peace military staffs to communicate in a multi-service, multi-national environment.

Approximately 400 people participated in the exercise, about 15 people from each of the 28 countries, with some additional U.S. support. Combined Endeavor 98 was planned and executed by EUCOM's Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Directorate (ECJ6).

Participating nations included Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Kazakstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and the United States.

Members of various U.S. units participated in thr exercise, with the largest involvement coming from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; along with personnel from 5th Signal Command, Heidelberg, Germany, and 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base.

Additionally, three NATO organizations (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Communications and Information Systems Directorate; NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency; and Allied Land Forces Central Europe) had forces participating.

COMBINED ENDEAVOR '99 was the 5th successive exercise of the exercise series focused on interoperability of communication and information systems. CE99 was conducted 6-20 May 1999 at Lager Aulenbach, Germany. Over 400 military and civilian personnel from 30 nations participated in CE99. Thanks to previous experience based on working in internationally mixed teams and especially good professional level of personnel and equipment, the Slovak signals started fulfilling the tasks of individual tests with no bigger difficulties. Successful intercommunication and trouble - free data transmission between our equipment and equipment used by Armed Forces of Austria, Lithuania, the USA, France, Hungry, Slovenia, Estonia give the evidence that the Slovak signals want to keep good reputation among their foreign colleagues.

The aim was not only to test the capabilities of equipment. The exercise also tests interoperability among people and opportunities of mutual co-operation. Each country present uses its own equipment, yet it would be not possible to do the testing with no confidence and reliance in one's counterpart. Therefore, it is not unusual to spot teams of military coming from 2 - 3 or more countries discussing the topical interoperability problems. Considering mutually the most suitable communication ways opens up the new dimensions to get known new equipment types, their working possibilities and capability of mutual compatibility.

To protest NATO's bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, Russia pulled out of this major U.S.-led NATO computer and communications exercise to help allies share information on the battlefield. The Russians' decision not to participate in the exercise, Combined Endeavor '99, came at the last minute. The absence of the Russians was particularly important because, unlike in previous years, Combined Endeavor '99 includes enough communications equipment and personnel to support up to six multinational divisions and would have included a suite of Russian equipment that has never been used outside Russia.

Exercise Combined Endeavor 2001 was held in Baumholder, Germany, from 10-24 May 2001. Thirty seven NATO and PfP nations participated. Advanced tactical radios and technical support played a key role in NATO's Combined Endeavor 2001 exercise. This annual U.S. European Command (EUCOM) interoperability training exercise enables NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) military staffs to evaluate the capabilities of communications and information systems in a multi-service environment. More than 1,000 service members and civilians from 37 countries and NATO were at Lager Aulenbach in Baumholder, Germany, testing the interoperability of their communications and information systems.

The countries participating in CE2001 were: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uzbekistan.

Combined Endeavor 2001, or CE2001, the seventh annual multinational interoperability training exercise, allowed nations to integrate their communications and information systems and test compatibility with each other. The exercise also provides a peacetime exchange for participants to engage socially and recreationally. The two-week exercise, running May 10 - 24, culminated a year of planning by participating countries. Testing will be conducted on information systems and assurance, wide and local area networks, digital and analog switchboards and high-frequency transmissions systems. Information gained and lessons learned during CE2001 enabled participating countries to work together more effectively in future real-world humanitarian and peace support operations.

Supporting CE2001 with numerous social activities and cultural trips was the German Raketenartillerielehrbataillon 52 (52nd Rocket Artillery Battalion), the U.S. Army 222nd Base Support Battalion and the U.S. Army 5th Signal Command. The Air Force provided about 30 personnel, primarily from U.S. Air Forces in Europe's 786 Communication Squadron based at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

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