By Sgt Gregory Williams, 353rd Civil Affairs CommandAugust 29, 2014
POCEK, SLOVENIA (Aug. 29, 2014) -- The commander of the U.S. Army forces in Europe visited the exercise Immediate Response 14 field training site during distinguished visitor's day here, Wednesday.
More than 150 exercise participants put on four demonstrations, including diffusing an explosive ordnance device, response to a mass casualty site, and air and ground medical evacuations, during the visit.
Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said he was impressed with the efficiency both U.S. service members and multi-national soldiers displayed.
"To come together completing tactical scenarios with all the nations that participated with the humanitarian disaster relief demonstrations is a testament to the way our teams came together very quickly," Campbell said. "This adds to our Soldiers' ability to serve their country in a different way by showing the capabilities of other European countries. We should never take for granted our European partners, who bring a lot to the table."
Campbell said exercise Immediate Response has grown every year and it's a great opportunity to work with allied and partner nations.
"In my opinion it gives our Soldiers the opportunity to see something they may not have seen before," Campbell said. "A lot of our Soldiers have spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan with these partner nations, so now they're getting firsthand experience working in this country and in Croatia."
As the group of visitors moved from seeing a K-9 search-and-rescue operation to a medical evacuation by helicopter mission, U.S. service members along with their multi-national counterparts worked side by side to display their proficiency within their respective fields.
Roman Jakic, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Slovenia, said it was better for distinguished guests to see firsthand the challenges within interagency operations and how exercise participants overcome their apprehensiveness of one another.
"I enjoyed seeing the cooperation between the armies and different sectors of each armed force," Jakic said. "It's always nice to see what actually happens in the field and not in the headquarters, which is also very important, but I mostly enjoyed the friendship between the armies out here."
Jakic said he expects Slovenian forces and partner nations to continue to build relationships with one another because exercises similar to Immediate Response are important to the stabilization of the Balkan region.
"All the exercises and support among our friends and allies is based on pressure," Jakic said. "To organize different exercises while facing turbulent financial situations around the world is challenging. Slovenia is proud for the past 20 years of collaborating with U.S. Forces and we're proud we can cope with any challenge."
After walking through the Role 2 hospital sites and talking to other dignitaries, Campbell said he was overall pleased with this year's exercise and he's confident all exercise participants are natural disaster response ready.
"The more we can train with our NATO and European partners in an environment like this, and take advantage of all the skill sets from each nation, the better we will be when we do come together to respond to a conflict," Campbell said. "We will never do anything unilaterally alone anymore."
This year's Immediate Response participants are using teamwork, communication and dedication to ensure their success and mission accomplishment.