NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria --
A dozen Azerbaijani staff officers took part in a staff planning exercise as part of Exercise Platinum Lion 13 in Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria.
The exercise, led by staff officers with Black Sea Rotational Force 13, was an opportunity for planners from both the U.S. and Azerbaijan to improve their operational and combat planning process.
Staff planning is a critical proficiency for any military unit, Azerbaijan’s Operational Capabilities Concept battalion is making a special effort to improve their skills as they prepare for a NATO evaluation. BSRF-13 is contributing to the exercise by introducing the Marine Corps Planning Process to the Azerbaijani leaders.
“We are taking them through the entire MCPP using a training scenario to push the staff to consider a lot of the operational considerations from peacekeeping operations to counterinsurgency,” said Capt. Joel Sartain, intelligence officer for BSRF-13 and Dallas, native.
MCPP is new to most of the Azerbaijani staff. Before this exercise, most of them worked with the U.S. Army’s equivalent to MCPP, a system known as the Military Decision-Making Process
“We’ve been able to show them that as Marines we take templates as guidelines and shift the planning process requirements to fit operational requirements and timelines that constraint us,” explained Sartain. “The thing that’s different about the nation’s ‘911 force’ is that our planning process is specifically designed for a rapid response and to push information and orders to the lowest possible level. We believe it enables rapid execution.”
Each staff section applies MCPP differently to their area of expertise.
“I’m working with my counterpart from the OCC battalion to shift toward identifying capabilities and limitations within communications planning,” said 1st Lt. Julian D’Orsaneo, communications officer for BSRF-13 and Elverson, Pa., native.
“We develop these skills and work through MCPP as a team and then present to our commander to really understand what he’s looking for.”
The plans created during this exercise will translate into company and platoon orders for a field exercise to be conducted by the combined force of BSRF-13 Marines and Azerbaijani soldiers in the coming days.
Outside of the staff planning exercise, BSRF-13’s logistical support specialists are sharing years of real-world experience with their partner-nation colleagues.
“I’ve partnered mostly with their logistics officer while my embarkation chief linked-up with their movement control officer to go through all the steps of preparing a battalion for deployment,” said Captain Brian Darracott, BSRF-13’s logistics officer and Buford, Ga., native. “They’ve been very receptive to everything we’ve shared with them. We both want to learn and get better.”
Platinum Lion 13, a multilateral exercise bringing military units from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and the U.S. together, continues on its fourth week of drills. During this period, U.S. Marines and sailors have orchestrated integrated squad and platoon attacks, company-level command and control discussions, counter-insurgency skills and tactics exercises, communication skills exchanges, and combat lifesaving seminars in support of theater security cooperation.