The JCTP Has Proven Its Value in Fostering European Peace

By Bowen, Mark J. | Army, July 1997 | Go to article overview

The JCTP Has Proven Its Value in Fostering European Peace


Bowen, Mark J., Army


It is not big. It does not go "bang." At $15 million a year-a mere 0.0000618 percent of the defense budget, it does not get enough headline attention to cause the American taxpayer to take note. This is unfortunate because the Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) proves to be a "best value" in fostering peace and cooperative relations with former Warsaw Pact nations. What started as a sixmonth experiment is now in its fifth year, and the reserve components of all the Services are major players.

In March 1992, Generals Colin L. Powell and John M. Shalikashvili devised a program limited in scope to assist the militaries of Central European countries in the transition to democracy and free market economy. The effort initially involved only Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. "With the Soviet system dissolved," said Lt. Col. Michael R. Horn, chief of training in the European Command (EUCOM) managed program, "the Warsaw Pact militaries knew they no longer needed corporal punishment as a means of disciplining soldiers, that they could pay their troops more than 10 cents a day, and that they wanted more focus on quality of life-including freedom of religion. The leadership simply did not know how their structures, programs and policies should take shape."

The JCTP is chartered to conduct contacts, encourage democracy and expose host nations to other U.S. programs. It cannot, however, provide training, services or equipment. Col. Horn used the analogy of a bicycle to clarify how the program works. "Before countries can decide whether they want to use a bike, they have to know what it is. The program is intended to show them the bike and demonstrate how it works. That's it. They are free to take it or leave it, as they plan their future programs."

Horn continued, "Now, if they want to buy the bike, we refer them to the Security Assistance Program. If they decide they want to go bicycling with us, we encourage them to become members of NATO's Partnership for Peace Program."

Each country decides which aspects of the program it wants to implement because each will have its own goals, objectives and priorities. The Department of Defense generally approves a country's desires, as long as there is no compromise of security or principle by which the U.S. military operates.

Central European countries most frequently ask JCTP to focus on the noncommissioned officer corps, the military in a democracy, personnel management, staff work and mobilization. Because quality of life is a topic of continued interest, JCTP routinely hosts seminars and demonstrations on the U.S. military chaplaincy, safety, the environment, medicine and the U.S. military legal system.

As the former Warsaw Pact nations experiment with democracy and free market economy, there is recurring interest in such areas as budgeting, engineering, disaster relief, reserve components and military police doctrine. Information on the interaction between military and civilian political systems is requested repeatedly, with emphasis on communications, civil affairs and public affairs.

The U.S. Army Reserve and the National Guard are heavily involved in the contact visits, so much so that various State Adjutants General have been assigned a partner country to sponsor. …

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The JCTP Has Proven Its Value in Fostering European Peace
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