Sky Soldiers conduct combined machine gun range with Slovenian troops
December 12, 2013
PIVKA, Slovenia -- Sky Soldiers from Destined Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team travelled here Dec. 5 to conduct a combined machine gun live-fire range with Slovenian troops, building on a training relationship that started a month prior during a NATO-response force exercise in Germany.
"This event will have a big influence on future operations and open doors to battalion-size training events for both units in the coming training calendar," said Brig. Gen. Miha Skerbinc, commander of the Slovenian army's 1st Brigade.
Approximately 50 Soldiers from Destined Company conducted training with vehicle-mounted machine guns and sniper rifles at the Bac Ilirska Bistrica range compound outside the town of Pivka. It was the first time Soldiers from the brigade had trained at the range facility.
The paratroopers were impressed with the quality of the range and maneuver space at the training area, according to Destined Company Commander Capt. Sheldon Broedel. "As a heavy weapons company, we are always hard pressed to find land to fire our big weapons systems, so traveling out [here] to train was a great opportunity," said Broedel.
The initial planning for the range began earlier in the fall and was finalized when both units worked together in November at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany as part of Combined Resolve 2013, a NATO response-force exercise comprising ten nations.
During the exercise, the 132nd Mountain Regiment from the Slovenian army was attached to the brigade. Destined Company was then attached to that Slovenian battalion to provide anti-armor capabilities. The working relationship established during the rotation left both units eager to work with each other again, according to Destined Company 1st Sgt. Timothy Jensen.
"We worked together seamlessly in Hohenfels, Germany," said Sgt. 1st Class Nate Haumschild, a platoon sergeant with Destined Company. "My experience has been very positive with the Slovenian soldiers."
"As soon as I got off the bus, I immediately saw one of my counterparts that I had worked closely with in Germany, and we picked up immediately where we had left off," said Haumschild, a platoon sergeant with Destined Company. "Training events and the chance like this to go to a live-fire range is an excellent opportunity for our paratroopers."
For the Slovenian soldiers, training alongside the paratroopers from the 173rd is an opportunity to develop light-infantry skills alongside a unit with operational experience from recent deployments.
"The 173rd is a light brigade and has a lot of experience with airborne operations," said Slovenian Army Capt. Ales Kesic. "That is beneficial for our unit here in Slovenia. Cooperation will become even more important in the post-ISAF era, and this cooperation needs to continue to be strengthened and not less."