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Modernising armoured vehicle training

Defence iQ interview with Brigadier General Daniel Pop,
15th Mech Bde Commander (OF6)

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Brigadier General Daniel Pop

Brigadier General Daniel Pop

Brigadier General Daniel Pop: deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2015 as Chief of the Romanian Army Institutional Advisory Team. Upon his return appointed Commander of the 32nd Battalio ”Mircea” Reconnaissance and Surveillance, in Timisoara; promoted to Colonel March 2016. In October 2017 he was appointed Deputy Commander, Multinational Brigade South-East, NATO's newest Brigade Headquarters located in Craiova. In December 2020, Brigadier General Pop was assigned 15th Mech Bde Commander (OF6) located in IASI. The officer was most recently appointed Commandant of the Romanian National Defense University in 2022 and from 1st November Head of Training and Doctrine Directorate, ROU General Defense Staff.

Q: What are the current priorities for mechanised training?

A: Nowadays, Romania's priorities come from risks and threats pertaining to its geopolitical and geographical position and are reshaped by lessons learned from the Ukrainian fight against Russia's unprovoked aggression and are based on accelerated supply of all components belonging to mechanized units. Any new technical assets require a lot of doctrines and manuals to be updated, as well as an intensive training campaign, in order to maintain and improve Romania's mechanized units' readiness level.

Furthermore, structural adaptation of the forces will be necessary so that the available capabilities, to be remotely operated either by the staff, or designed structures as appropriate to the equipment's characteristics (e.g. PIRANHA 5 crew members, MBT, UAS operating teams, etc.). Having this fact in mind, we are focused on fulfilling the NATO standards, such as: Minimum Capabilities Requirements (MCR 20), Target capabilities (TC 21) and Bi-SC Capability codes and capability statements.

Based on the fight powers capabilities pertaining to the new system, new ways of engaging our mechanised units have arisen, not merely during the conflict period but also during the crises or within DDA (Defense and Deterrence Activities) for a better management of our AOR.

Performing C2 (Command and Control) in a very crowded electromagnetic environment, this is more than a priority, it is a necessity at all levels of command throughout squad to brigade level.

Recovery and resupply for a wide range of technical capabilities requires time and should be planned in a manner of maintaining the tempo of operations. Troops actions, supported by firepower from fighting vehicles, should not be jeopardized by lack of ammunitions or spare parts due to a pretty long logistic line.

Eventually, our priorities will include reshaping our mechanized units in accordance with NATO requirements, the development of the major endowment programs and testing within an increased number of multinational exercises with our allies and partners.

Photo: © Graham Robson-Parker on Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo: © Graham Robson-Parker on Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0

Q: With the advent of the Ukrainian War, have there been any changes in operational readiness or tempo for the Romanian Land Forces? Has there been a rethink in terms of strategy and doctrine?

A: Following the war in Ukraine, NATO has adapted its doctrines to achieve an adequate reaction capacity against possible threats from Russia. In accordance with NATO's DDA concept, this is based on four tenets: Force Organization, Force Management, C2 and Alert System. The Romanian Armed Forces have already adapted its plans and operational readiness in order to enhance the alliance's ability to respond gradually and firmly to any adversary threats on Romanian territory. Moreover, the Romanian Army will permanently integrate national planning and operational readiness into the NATO future designated structures.

In parallel with these conceptual and operational transformations, Romanian Armed Forces must be permanently prepared for implementing new strategies developed by NATO and maintaining a proactive mindset with the reference to DOTMLPF (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel and Facilities) requirements.

Q: How can industry better improve armoured vehicle training? Where do you think industry could improve to better suit the needs of the directorate?

Taking into consideration the current security environment, which is full of challenges, industry could improve mostly in providing the advanced infrastructure for training, based on VR (Virtual Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence) both located in training centers or deployable, and Real Like Assets (using principle Train as you fight). Embedded training systems into the armoured vehicle is also one element that can improve both the training process and related costs. Real simulations using duly recorded systems could be one solution in order to shrink the costs of training.

Being part of the exercise planning staff, industry representatives could identify, along with the users of assets, plenty of issues and figure out solutions for almost all of them, sometimes directly on the spot. A good simulation for indoor/outdoor training for each platoon formation is key to advance during the training, saving the technical platform resources that could be valuable in a complex exercise.

Q: Romania's military modernization is expected to complement the expanded NATO defensive contingent in Romania, what does this entail for training and doctrine?

A: What we had Romania has been striving to improve the ability to work with NATO since its first multinational activity under the PfP (Partnership for Peace) umbrella and later as a NATO country. The key element always was “interoperability” at all levels (tactical, operational, strategic) and at all layers: technical, procedural, human and information.

What we do

As a matter of course, keeping up the peace with new environment changes and challenges, we have evolved an entire military system within a very rapid modernization and adaptation based on DOTMLPF requirements. All of them were based on ETEE NATO guidance (NATO Education, Training, Exercises, and Evaluation), multinational contingents deployed programs for south east flank, and involvement in terms of regional defense plans.

What we intend

We are still integrating, at all levels, the proper steps for TOA (Transfer of Authority) between national JFC HQ (Joint Force Command Headquarter) and NATO multinational HQs as MNC SE (Multinational Corps South-East), MND SE (Multinational Division South-East), and MNBDE SE (Multinational Brigade South-East), in order to have an effective transfer of knowledge data base alongside good integration and cooperation of forces in the field.

Q: With Armoured Vehicles Eastern Europe on the horizon, what sort of conversations would provide value to your presence?

A:

  • 1. Mitigation of thermal and electronic footprint is one of the greatest challenges encountered by mechanised troops in this very complex environment.
  • 2. Thermal camouflage, alongside with significant changes for TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures), is necessary for the Mech units needs in future conflicts.
  • 3. A good leverage among cost of production, efficiency, rapid recovery or replacement should be acquired in the near future because these platforms are more costly day by day and barely provided and the counter measures are cheaper and cheaper.
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