NATO Allied Land Command activating next week in Turkey

by JOHN VANDIVER, Stars and Stripes  |  published on November 23, 2012


STUTTGART, Germany — A new NATO land command headquarters, restructured to streamline costs and decision making, will be activated next week in Turkey as the new home for planning how infantrymen from the 28-nation alliance fight together.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down, one of the prime focuses of NATO Allied Land Command will be harnessing that war fighting experience to ensure that the alliance doesn’t lose the lessons learned, said the American Army officer commanding the new headquarters in Izmir, Turkey.

Coming off more than a decade at war, the level of “interoperability” among NATO members is at an all-time high, Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, said.

“My job will be to maintain that level of interoperability,” Hodges said. “You’ve got to retain this experience, and a lot of that resides in the noncommissioned officer corps.”

Following an activation ceremony on Friday in Izmir, Allied Land Command headquarters will formally assume the responsibilities of Force Command Heidelberg, Germany, and Force Command Madrid, Spain, which are being deactivated as part of NATO’s transformation. A similar merger of Air Command headquarters formerly in Turkey with one in Germany is taking place at Ramstein Air Base.

The Allied Land Command is responsible for ensuring readiness of NATO forces, conducting land operations and synchronizing land force command and control.

Hodges said he intends to discuss with his alliance counterparts ways to bolster the role of the enlisted force in their respective militaries and emphasize the advantages of putting “more and more responsibility on NCOs.”

While the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom have a long tradition of well-developed NCO corps, not all allied militaries have a history of pushing significant decision making power onto the enlisted ranks.

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