Grafenwoehr, Germany (Feb. 5, 2018) - As Allied Spirit VIII (AS VIII) is coming to an end, Soldiers from all over Europe will have to say their good-byes to each other while they pack up their bags to head back to their home station. As camaraderie and partnerships were strengthened during the interoperability training, different tactics and techniques were also shared among the 4,100 participants in this year's exercise.

The U.S. Army Europe-multinational exercise took place at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 5, 2018. Soldiers from Albania, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States came together to exercise tactical interoperability and test secure communications among NATO alliance members.

"We need to train," said Czech Republic Army Brig. Gen. Karel Rehka, the commander of the exercise. "If we're going to fight, most likely we'll fight as an alliance, so training with multiple nations is ideal to prepare for that."

The three-week semiannual exercise rotates a different country as the primary training brigade to support the higher command (HICON) in each rotation. In this rotation, the HICON was supported by the 12th Mechanized Brigade (12th Mech) from the Polish Army, a first for the Allied Spirit series.
The Polish brigade took orders from the HICON and delivered them down to the supporting units in order to meet the exercise objectives. So, essentially the 12th Mech provided mission command of fire support, offensive, defensive and stability tasks.

U.S. Army Col. David Gardner, the commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, explained that his unit had to understand and practice how to communicate with the Polish brigade and adjacent units in order to achieve a shared visualization of taking on the opposing forces.

While the exercise provided an opportunity to synchronize communications, it also supported the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) - the most capable allied force NATO has ever positioned on its eastern flank - by integrating eFP partners in the exercise. Poland and the U.S. Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment are both eFP partners, and the U.S. Army regionally allocated forces to European Command: the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2nd ABCT), 1st Infantry Division and the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element are both forward stationed in Poland; all of which are participants in this iteration of the exercise.

The above participants were familiar with each other outside of AS VIII, and were able to continue strengthening their partnerships not only with each other but with other participating units in the exercise.

"They (2nd ABCT units) get to learn and see how others do things differently," said Gardner. "We've notice that each of our Allies is good at certain things and we draw lessons learned from them."
Before moving into the exercise days, the multinational units were able to get to know each other's procedures, capabilities and systems by exercising specific warfighting objectives as well as familiarizing themselves with the training area.

"I think we are achieving the exercise's interoperability goals in developing and maintaining a common operating picture," said Gardner. "We learned from the best of what we see in them and it gives an opportunity to demonstrate the things we feel we know pretty well and improve those things we know we have to work on."