Immediate Response 2012
Pvt. Jacob Pharr, a radio operator with U.S. Army Europe's 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, coordinates a mission update with his Bosnian-Herzegovinian partner while conducting an ambush Situational Training Exercise during Immediate Response 2012 held at the Slunj Training Area, Croatia, May 31, 2012.

SLUNJ TRAINING AREA, Croatia (June 3, 2012) -- Heavily forested terrain, steep hills and hot weather haven't slowed down Soldiers with U.S. Army Europe's 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and their multinational partners during the Situational Training Exercise phase of Immediate Response 2012 here for the past few days.

The multinational soldiers from six nations, with another two countries observing, have been through intense training designed to bring all the nations together and establish a common approach to tactics and procedures.

"It's a series of compact scenarios that allow them to get right to the meat of some of the training challenges they have," said Col. Andrew Heppelmann, the co-director of the exercise. "The repetition allows them to get better far more quickly than a typical field training exercise where they might see an ambush once. I can put them through three ambushes in an afternoon and that means by the end of that they've sorted out any of the problems or issues they've had and they can do it like clockwork at that point."

All of this work leads the soldiers from across Europe to their upcoming field training exercise, known as an FTX, which will see them involved in an exercise where multinational companies will be formed. With so many nations involved the need to establish a commonality of procedure is great.

"We need to establish a "baseline" so that we fundamentally understand what actions need to be taken for a movement to contact," Heppelmann says. "When the company commander tells an Albanian platoon, or a Croatian platoon or even a U.S. platoon to go do a movement to contact, he's got in his mind what that means and doing these STX lanes helps to make sure that each of these platoons has the same idea in their mind."

The training has been made more interactive for the soldiers with the inclusion of the Distributed Instrumentation System-Europe, or DIS-E, a system that allows real-time after-action reviews following the training.

"We've brought in DIS-E, and what that allows for is for each individual to be outfitted with a tracker and by name tracked on a battlefield that's 30 square kilometers," says Heppelmann. "All of it is captured on film so it makes for a much more powerful training environment, when, immediately after going through one of these STX (situational training exercise) lanes, you can see what happened, what went right, what went wrong and what each individuals actions were."

With so many participants brought together, even the training before the main event has been an experience that many of the soldiers involved won't forget.

Pvt. Tonya Breznik, a Patria Infantry Fighting Vehicle driver with the Slovenian Armed Forces' 74th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, shared her experience that highlights one of the benefits of multinational training, "All countries have their own interesting things so you can always learn from others. It's different cultures, languages, and a different way of working; there are just new experiences."

To see more images from the situational training exercise events, visit the USAREUR Flickr site at:

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia, building teams, assuring allies and deterring enemies. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for U.S. actions such as in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Page last updated Mon June 4th, 2012 at 06:44