KLAIPEDA, Lithuania (NNS) -- Naval Special Warfare Unit Two (NSWU-2), the maritime component of Special Operations Command Europe, completed another successful Jackal Stone exercise Sept. 27 as they led a special operations task group (SOTG) with international allies.
Jackal Stone 10 is an annual multinational special operations forces military exercise composed of U.S. Naval Special Warfare SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen as well as Lithuanian special operations forces and Polish Formoza that was hosted in both Poland and Lithuania this year. Its successful completion marks the third consecutive year of the capstone training event for U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).
The primary objective of the exercise, where more than 1,100 special operations personnel from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the United States participated from Sept. 13 - 27, was to enhance capabilities and interoperability amongst the participating forces, especially at the operational command and control level.
NSWU-2 personnel provided the framework for the maritime SOTG in Klaipeda, Lithuania, one of three SOTGs for the exercise, and this base was strengthened by some old friends.
"We saw many of the same [allied] faces we worked with during Jackal Stone 2009, and already had a foundation from which to build upon," said Capt. Kent A. Paro, NSWU-2's Commanding Officer. "Jackal Stone 10 enabled us to capitalize on our previous experiences, gather new lessons learned, and better prepare participants to stand-up and operate within a fully-combined SOTG."
The task of seamlessly bringing all maritime forces together involved much more than just participation in the exercise. Maintaining working relationships throughout the year was also important, and the high operational tempo that is always maintained by NSWU-2 proved critical.
"Prior to the exercise, NSWU-2 conducted numerous training engagements with both Lithuanian and Polish special operations forces to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures at the tactical and operational levels. This allowed us to begin Jackal Stone 10 at a higher level; both in our staff actions and in the field," said Paro. "Our prior efforts during those training engagements as well as during ongoing operations downrange significantly contributed to our success here."
Throughout the exercise, NSWU-2 personnel ensured that all operational planning was a combined vice U.S.-led effort as well. One of the exercise goals, in fact, was to prepare allied and partner nations to lead forces at both the SOTG and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) levels.
"From staff updates to mission leads, nothing was driven completely by U.S. desires or leaders," said Paro. "We were a combined SOTG and our Lithuanian and Polish partners felt it and appreciated the environment within the SOTG."
Paro said that for the first time ever, SOCEUR exercised a counter-insurgency (COIN) scenario as well as a ground-level, or "bottom-up" developed intelligence process that simulated conditions in an environment such as Afghanistan. Instead of the CJSOTF directing what missions the tactical forces would execute, it was up to the SOTGs and their task units to gather and analyze intelligence, and then ensure the proper resources were coordinated through the CJSOTF to achieve their desired effects.
"This is a difficult task and a great effort in the right direction," said Paro. "Next year, I hope the scenario continues to support this exercise methodology. In addition, the combined nature of the exercise is also a 'must sustain' item in the Jackal Stone exercise series."
Each year, SOCEUR conducts Jackal Stone, the largest and most comprehensive annual multinational SOF exercise within Europe, to provide special operations forces the opportunity to train together and build mutual respect amongst each other while sharing doctrinal concepts, training concepts and various skill sets.
But the success of this year's exercise depended upon much more than just executing successful missions. According to Paro, it was also about building relationships.
"Everything hinges on the relationships we have in theater and around the world," said Paro. "Jackal Stone 10 highlighted this and made us all appreciate the work we've done in the past, the experiences we've shared in exercises and the successes we've enjoyed downrange."
"Jackal Stone 10 was a lot of work for a lot of people, and it provided a great payoff by improving our combined capability, allowing even more sharing of ideas, building on previous experiences, and further cementing already rock-solid relationships between brothers-in-arms."
For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group Two, visit www.navy.mil/local/nswgtwo/.