GRAFENWOHR, Germany -- Moldovan special forces trained here Oct. 23 with instruction from Bulgarian pilots and guidance from American observers.
Members of the Moldovan Independent Special Forces Group, Moldovan Ground Forces, conducted Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction System training, or FRIES, with instruction from Bulgarian pilots of the 2nd Transportation Helicopter Squadron, 24th Air Base, Bulgarian Air Force, at the Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area as part of Exercise Combined Resolve III.
The fast-rope maneuver -- in which soldiers descend from a rope attached to a helicopter -- is a technique used to deliver soldiers to the battlefield. The exercise marked the first time Bulgarians trained Moldovans with American observers, coaches and trainers in the background.
The training was helpful said a Moldovan special operations soldier. "We will bring it back to Moldova and continue to develop our special forces," he said.
After an initial instruction and safety brief by the Bulgarian pilots, each Moldovan soldier practiced dismounting with the rope from the side of the grounded AS-532 Cougar helicopter before taking to the air.
During FRIES training, soldiers are not connected to any safety harness, which means they must rely solely on confidence and technique to land safely to the ground.
Once in the air the Moldovan soldiers dismounted the helicopter in their combat protective gear by sliding down the rope.
The Moldovans also used the JMTC's shoot house to execute room clearing tactics and unilateral live fire training at the training area -- the first time ever for the country's special operations forces.
While training, the Moldovan forces shot AKM rifles and TT-33 pistols with live ammunition in close-quarters combat, yet another first for the country's special forces.
Moldova borders Romania to the west and Ukraine to the east. It is a non-NATO member but a partner nation participating in Combined Resolve III.
Exercise Combined Resolve III includes more than 4,000 participants from 18 different countries. The exercise, which runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 24, 2014, is designed to provide the U.S. Army's European Rotational Force with multinational training and partnership opportunities that will enhance the flexibility, agility and ability to better operate alongside NATO allies and partners in Europe.