By Sgt. Eric Roberts, Alabama National GuardMay 18, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- As a prelude to exercise Combined Resolve II, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center hosted a Capabilities Day, May 17, as a way of developing technical and tactical interoperability among NATO and partner-nation forces in Europe.
Combined Resolve II is the largest scheduled multi-national exercise in Europe this year, including more than 4,000 soldiers from 14 NATO and partner nations, at the Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr Training Areas in southeastern Germany, May 15-Jun. 30, 2014.
"This is a pre-emptive chance to learn rank, culture and equipment of partnering nations," said Sgt. James Walsh, C Company, 182 Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Walsh said the unit will conduct air assault training with the Austrian Army throughout the coming weeks. Walsh emphasized the training by calling it an "amazing privilege," while pointing to Capabilities Day as an opportunity for "all forces to know what each other have."
"While deployed to Iraq, I worked with Ukraine; while deployed to Afghanistan, I worked with Poland," said Walsh. "I had no idea I would be working with the Polish. We never know who we will be fighting alongside."
The takeaway for each country varies slightly according to the each nation's capabilities, says Lithuania Army liaison officer, 1st Lt. Paulius Venclovas.
"It (Capabilities Day) is good for our experiences. It is very important to know how our NATO partners work and synchronize," says Venclovas.
The most valuable takeaway for Venclovas was the opportunity to understand the NATO support structure and the impending opportunity to work "with new technologies not available in Lithuania, such as helicopters."
With such a day and the impending multinational training mission, there come challenges with the benefits, according to Capt. Hugues de Bonnieres, French 1st Company, 126th Infantry Battalion.
"The language is the biggest challenge," said de Bonnieres. "This is my first opportunity to work in a multinational partnership. This partnership gives us everyday tactical and technical stuff to use."
"I will keep in my memory small things, and suspect the U.S. will do the same," added de Bonnieres.
"We are here to provide combat support, and present our capabilities and become aware of our allies. It's both fun and great experiences," said Capt. Sergey Vogrin, of the Slovenia Army.
Col. Herbert Krassnitzer of the Austrian 25th Infantry Battalion, reinforced that something as simple as Capabilities Day has real life implications.
"It is a real-life possibility to conduct multinational operations. We expect a very interesting and demanding exercise," said Krassnitzer.
Pfc. Brian Katta, 1st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, said he was "surprised to know the amount of nations involved."
"We dropped ammo to Lithuania, Romania and more; we have to be aware of the capabilities of others and ourselves," said Katta.
Capabilities day and the impending Combined Resolve II will help NATO maintain the lessons learned during the past 12 years of war.
"In the current climate, we must train to work and think like other countries," said Walsh. "In any and all contingencies, we have to be prepared for what life and war may bring us."
For more information on Combined Resolve II, go to the official exercise website at www.eur.army.mil/jmtc/CombinedResolve or check out the exercise on social media by searching for #CombinedResolve or visiting the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's social media @7thArmyJMTC.