SOUDA BAY, Greece (NNS) -- Multinational military personnel completed a week-long course of instruction at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Training Center (NMIOTC) as part of the U.S. Navy's Eurasia Partnership (EP) program, April 26.
The course, which included training in ship boarding, search techniques and maritime interdiction operations, gave the participants a chance to work hands-on with fellow NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) members.
"The purpose of this course is to build the participants' interoperability and familiarity with NATO procedures and standards" said Lt. Joshua Aisen, U.S. Naval Forces Europe's regional engagement officer and director of the EP program. "Every time we operate in a naval coalition, we bring forces together that speak different languages and use different equipment and platforms. As part of their mission, they have to operate together."
The participants in the training course included representatives from the armed forces of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Ukraine.
"We conduct this event, and events like this under the Eurasia Partnership program, primarily to expose forces to some of the difficulties associated with multinational operations, so they can start addressing those difficulties and work to overcome them," said Aisen.
Aisen also said he hopes courses like this lead to greater interoperability now and in the future.
"The biggest impact we see from these events is building personal relationships. The participants are senior NCOs and mid-level officers who, when they come together and work together, they remember the connections they made here," said Aisen. "Later, down the road, when they are more senior, they have that familiarity with their counterparts in different countries. They're comfortable with each other and those personal relationships really go a long way towards ensuring operational effectiveness."
"This training was very valuable to us because we didn't have any previous experience working in international waters with multinational units," said a participant from the Azerbaijani navy. "It was a benefit for us to see the different tactics presented, some similar with our own but some slightly different. Now we will take back to our country what we have learned and share with other personnel in our units."
Sponsored by the U.S. Navy, Eurasia Partnership aims to increase maritime safety and security through training, seminars and sharing of information between partner nations.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.