The seven nations of the European Air Group (EAG) conducted a multinational exercise, VOLCANEX FORCE PROTECTION 2015, from 19 – 27 October at the RAF Force Protection Centre at RAF Honington. The aim was to strengthen Force Protection interoperability between the EAG nations through improving command and control procedures, underpinned by the use of common doctrine. The Exercise culminated in simulating the activity at a deployed multinational Combined Joint Operations Centre.
Effective command and control is the key to success in multinational Force Protection operations. The EAG, consisting of the air forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom, seeks to improve the operational capabilities of the Parties’ Air Forces to carry out operations in pursuit of shared interests. For the second year running, the EAG have facilitated, in partnership with its RAF hosts, a nine day Force Protection doctrine and training exercise which used the EAG’s Force Protection Publication for Air Operations as the baseline doctrine.
VOLCANEX FORCE PROTECTION 2015
VOLCANEX is the European Air Group’s name for current and future multinational exercises on which it seeks to test and refine its developed products and procedures. VOLCANEX FORCE PROTECTION 2015 was conducted at RAF Honington by the team at the RAF Force Protection Centre, under command of Wg Cdr Ed Cripps, supported by Wg Cdr Rich Jones and members of 4 Force Protection Wg from RAF Brize Norton. Up to 90 personnel from 11 nations were involved at any one time over the exercise period. Of particular note this year was the participation of personnel from Estonia and observers from Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark.
Station Commander RAF Honington, Gp Capt Mick Smeath said ‘VOLCANEX FP 15 CPX has been a great opportunity for the RAF, and specifically Force Protection, to further understand the EAG community. The interoperability that this exercise provides is invaluable to the RAF as a whole and affords a higher level of understanding from the highest rank to the operators on the ground’.
Brigadier General Giacomo De Ponti, Deputy Director EAG, represented the Director EAG, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, RAF Chief of Air Staff, at a working Visitors’ Day on 26 October. Air Commodore Andrew Hall, Air Officer Force Protection, welcomed Lieutenant General Wundrak, Executive Director Joint Air Power Competence Centre, as the principle guest. Brigadier General Pincet, General Commanding the Brigade Security Forces and Intervention, French Air Force, and Colonel Audronis Navickas, the Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force, were present, together with senior representatives of the participating nations. The Visitors’ Day demonstrated key training capabilities and the importance of multinational cooperation in Force Protection. Visitors were briefed by Lieutenant Colonel Utz Hennig from the EAG on the content of the Exercise. They had an opportunity to talk to personnel of their nation and to see them participating in their role in the simulated Combined Joint Operations Centre. The visitors also saw a Force Protection capability demonstration by RAF personnel.
RAF Force Protection Force Commander, Air Commodore Andrew Hall commented, ‘We have been building over recent years a strong working relationship and military co-operation with key allies. This exercise demonstrates the extent of our progress to date and the opportunity we have to develop our whole capability’.