It was all about teamwork and communication during this year’s Fused Response exercise, a U.S. and Dominican special operations forces military exercise March 7-11 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The purpose of Fused Response, which involved approximately 250 Special Operations personnel from U.S. and Dominican forces, was to allow both nations to train on skills, such as personnel planning, reconnaissance, joint integration, as well as improving the interoperability and increasing the military capacity, to confront common threats, such as illicit traffic, organized crime, and terrorism.
In order to support the exercise, Special Operations Command South personnel provided key logistic, operational, medical and staff support.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Stahl, the lead planner for Fused Response, said the focus of the exercise is to ensure both nations’ military forces are comfortable and confident working with each other as they face common threats.
“The focus of the exercise is how to deal with threats such as drug trafficking,” Stahl said. “This exercise helps build rapport between the two nations as we work together and establish new relationships. By cross-training, they are learning from each other and, at the same time, building friendships that last a lifetime.”
From staff planning, tactical operations, and logistics movements, the weeklong exercise challenged personnel from both militaries to perform at a high level in a short amount of time.
“This exercise is an extremely rapid process and truly takes a combined effort to make everything work,” Stahl said.
At the tactical level, U.S. and Dominican SOF units conducted room-clearing procedures, close-quarters battle training, and personnel recovery operations. The battle staff also received some key training as both the U.S. and Dominican military leaders learned how to work together as part of a joint task force.
U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Daniel Flaherty, the senior enlisted advisor for the SOCSOUTH training and exercise section, said Exercise Fused Response allows both nations to see which skill sets are strong and which ones need improvement.
“The whole thing about the exercise evaluation process is that you get another set of eyes watching you from planning to execution,” he said. “You get all the great training tools you need because it identifies all the areas that you need to train in.”
Flaherty also said training event like this are vital to enable both partners to build upon their existing relationships and be prepared to work together in the event of a real-life international crisis.
“We know who we are going to be working with, so if a real-world situation were to evolve, we are not starting from scratch. You have a rolodex of people to contact and you know what to expect from the partner nation,” he said.
This exercise is just another step in the growing partnership between these two countries. The U.S. – Dominican partnership worked well during relief operations following Haiti’s devastating earthquake last year; the Dominican Republic facilitated additional access for the U.S. military to deliver humanitarian supplies to earthquake victims on short notice.
From the Dominican Republic’s role in assisting Haiti relief efforts, to hosting Fuerzas Comando 2010, a major Special Operations skills competition with 23 participating countries, the Dominican Republic is viewed as a valued security partner in the region.
Dominican Maj. Ambrocio Castillo-Volquez, the commander of the Ministerio de Estado de las Fuerzas Armadas, known as the MIFA, confirmed he and his commandos have been working with the American military for the past three years, and the training has helped them improve as a military organization.
“Our unit is more professionally developed, and there has been improvement in areas such as planning. The entire operational climate has improved,” Castillio-Volquez said. “Our interoperability with our soldiers and the American Soldiers is excellent, and we are like brothers.”
In addition to Fused Response, an Operational Detachment-Alpha team assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group has been training with members of the MIFA for the past couple of months.
The officer-in-charge of the ODA stated that the Dominican soldiers are capable of defeating any threat.
“They are well-trained and are consistently improving,” he said. “The goal is for them to develop their own training programs.”
During the closing ceremony of Exercise Fused Response, dozens of senior military commanders witnessed the final culminating military event of the exercise, including Dominican Major General Luis A. Jiménez, Armed Forces Minister; Christopher A. Lambert, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission; Army Lt. Gen. P.K. (Ken) Keen; and Navy Rear Admiral Thomas L. Brown II.
Rear Adm. Brown, the commander of SOCSOUTH, spoke about the success of the exercise during his closing remarks.
“This exercise is very important for us,” Brown said. “We are grateful for the Dominican military, their friendship, and look forward to working with our partners again in the future.”
The next Exercise Fused Response is scheduled to run in spring 2012.