Five nations participate in exercise Regional Cooperation 18

September 19, 2018

More than 200 service members from five nations are conducting Regional Cooperation 2018 (RC18), a joint command-post exercise, Sept. 10 – 21, at Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

According to U.S. Army Maj. Robert McCracken, U.S. Central Command’s lead exercise planner, the purpose of RC18 is to improve the ability of South and Central Asian region nations and the U.S. to collectively respond to a crisis. “The exercise helps us improve our ability to plan and coordinate as a multinational organization and promote information sharing between military and civilian organizations,” said McCracken.

During the exercise, U.S. Central Command Forces, with support from the Massachusetts Army National Guard, and forces from Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are afforded an opportunity to develop a combined military response to several scripted exercise scenarios.

A command post exercise is designed to train a unit commander and their staff using a scenario of simulated events, hypothetical forces, and an environment to exercise communication channels within and between headquarters to achieve an overall outcome.

“The focus here is to improve our ability to communicate, coordinate, and address threats and challenges inherent in counter terrorism, border security, counter proliferation, counter narcotic trafficking, and stability operations,” said McCracken.

McCracken also stated that the success of RC18 is due to the cooperation of all countries participating.

Mongolian Armed Forces Col. B. Baatar, battalion commander, says that exercises like this improve his nation’s forces for future multi-national missions. “Our officers and non-commissioned officers are able to enhance communication techniques and planning procedures that enable us to work more efficiently within a coalition environment,” said Baatar.

Tajik Col. Anvar Ahmadjonzoda, Ministry of Defense, Tajikistan, stressed the importance of teamwork and sharing military experiences during RC18. “Through this exercise our junior Tajik officers learn practical synchronization skills very valuable in a multinational environment,” said Ahmadjonzoda.

The Massachusetts Army and Air National Guard play a key role in Regional Cooperation by providing a large portion of U.S. forces for the exercise.

“This is a joint service, multinational exercise,” said Massachusetts Army National Guard Col. Ron Cupples, commander, 51st Troop Command. “Our junior officers and non-commissioned officers get a lot of value from the deliberate and detailed pace of communications within a combined battle staff.”

U.S. Army Col. Jeffery Abele, U.S. Central Command’s exercise division chief, explained that RC18 is a way for USCENTCOM to improve its ability to plan and coordinate with international and multinational organizations as well as improve interoperability with partner nations.

“This type of exercise is an opportunity for us to strengthen relationships with our Central and South Asian partners, so that should a crisis arise requiring a regional effort, we are all prepared to respond,” said Abele. “Through practice, we already have continuity and established lines of communication with our allies.”

Regional Cooperation has been conducted annually since 2001. Last year the exercise was hosted by Tajikistan from 10-23 July 2017, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.