On 26 November, the Polish-run exercise "Anakonda 18" (AN18) entered its Command Post Exercise (CPX) phase with Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast (HQ MNC NE) taking on the role of Land Component Command in the Allied joint operation. AN 18 is actively supported by NATO.
"Anakonda 18" was designed to enhance readiness and interoperability between the Polish Armed Forces, NATO troops and a number of partners across the Baltic region. The training continues to stress their joint capabilities to execute full-spectrum military operations in an increasingly complex and multifaceted environment. The "Anakonda 18" scenario reflects all the main challenges which would have to be faced after invoking Article 5 and is centred on the territories of Poland and the three Baltic States, which make up the bulk of HQ MNC NE's Area of Operations.
Given its geostrategic location, expertise and high-readiness capabilities, HQ MNC NE has taken on the role of Land Component Command in lead of the Allied ground operation.
"We have five different subordinated units that we are commanding, exercising with, ensuring we have communications with and giving guidance to." – explains Brigadier General John E. Novalis, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations.
The aforementioned are the 1st German Airborne Brigade, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, 12th Polish Mechanized Division, Polish Corps and, last but not least, Multinational Division North-East. The division Headquarters established in Elbląg, north-eastern Poland, is planned to gain Full Operational Capability by the end of AN18. Once certified, it will complete the chain of command that goes from the four enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Groups up to HQ MNC NE.
As emphasized by General Novalis, HQ MNC NE uses the exercise as a platform to mentor the Division and ensure that they are a high-readiness unit within the NATO C2 structure. At the same time, the Corps heightens its self-focus. "It is also about us training ourselves and about our ability to sustain operations away from our home base." – continues General Novalis.
To thoroughly fulfil a task of such magnitude, HQ MNC NE's staff have set themselves up in the Main Command Post located in Elbląg. Rapid deployability is the prerequisite for successfully fulfilling mission requirements if ever called upon during a moment of crisis or instability. Only by being fully autonomous and self-sufficient, HQ MNC NE can complete almost any field operation quickly and efficiently anywhere, anytime.
"Here, we are focusing on the purely operational aspects." – says Major General Ulrich Hellebjerg, the Corps' Deputy Commander and Exercise Director – "We are developing the Headquarters' operational capability to safeguard the security of the north-eastern part of NATO."
The CPX phase moved ahead at full speed after the Battle Staff Training had been completed. Such groundwork was the necessary underpinning for implementing all the operational objectives foreseen for AN18, especially since the Corps' personnel have undergone substantial rotations over the last couple of months.
We have taken a progressive approach. Crawl, walk, run!" – General Hellebjerg
"I laid my focus on building small teams and linking them together into one. It is important that all the elements of a big whole have an understanding of one another, their roles and responsibilities. This way, we have achieved a cross-functionally working team" - General Hellebjerg expands. For HQ MNC NE, AN18 concludes this year's training programme which gravitated towards the Land Component Command role. With all the work that has been done so far, HQ MNC NE continues to demonstrate their commitment to NATO in protecting the sovereignty of its members in the East through close cooperation within a multinational framework.