By Commander Rocco Bucceroni
The Joint Operation Centre (JOC) is the control room that integrates monitoring of joint maritime operations and command and control of NATO Allies and partner forces participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 50. The premier maritime exercise of the Baltic Sea region, BALTOPS is now in its 50th iteration and continues to be one of the largest exercises to take place in northern Europe. The success of the mission wouldn't be obtained without the adept skills of these men and women.
BALTOPS 50 is a massive operation that incorporates more than 40 ships, over 60 aircraft, and over 4,000 people from 16 NATO Allies and two partner nations. Ensuring smooth behind-the-scenes coordination of the complicated exercise, the men and women working in the JOC of Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) in Oeiras, Portugal create realistic scenarios, implement valuable training opportunities, and bolster interoperability among participating nations.
As JOC Director, it is my responsibility to oversee this complex, multi-national operation. Building on 28 years of experience in the Italian Navy, I recently expedited a renovation and improvement of the operational configuration and workspace at STRIKFORNATO enabling us to do our jobs more efficiently.
The great technological innovation of the new JOC lies in the integration of complex command and control and communications systems that allow STRIKFORNATO to receive all information and operational data in real-time, relating to the whole spectrum of warfare: surface, air, underwater, cyber, ground, and space. Those who work in the JOC are specialized warfare experts. They have modern technologies at their disposal and they are trained to monitor the operational activity of the assigned NATO forces. They coordinate the management and dissemination of information and respond promptly, at any given hour, in case of emergencies and critical issues.
The JOC is the heartbeat of the headquarters, and essential to making operations run smoothly. The importance of the service members working here is imperative because it provides comprehensive situational awareness to the Commander during an operation so that he can issue the right directive and guidance. It is important work that often remains unseen by the majority of participants. While the JOC operators are rarely in the spotlight, their duties are critical to the safety and success of the mission.
The renewal project of the STRIKFORNATO JOC has provided a new capacity and increased capability to the entire organization of the Alliance and makes our collaborative teamwork stronger and more efficient.