By Mr. Christian Marquardt (USAREUR)September 3, 2015
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Three NATO Allies completed their participation in exercise Swift Response 15 this week during a combined arms live-fire exercise here, Sept. 1-5.
Swift Response 15 is the U.S. Army's largest combined airborne training event in Europe since the end of the Cold War. It included nearly 5,000 service members from 11 NATO nations.
Army trainers here designed the live-fire to connect platoons and squads from the Poland, the UK and the U.S. in order for those units to learn how to operate side-by-side.
The event utilized the resources of several ranges here in Grafenwoehr, including the Range 118 multi-purpose complex with its sophisticated suite of digital targetry, high-definition cameras and audio equipment, which contribute to providing a more realistic and relevant training experience, said U.S. Army Maj. Mychajlo Eliaszewskyj, the operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and the training coordinator for the live fire.
"We have combined several ranges and used different support elements, including (AH-64) Apaches, artillery and mortars," said Eliaszewskyj. "Range 118 allows us to conduct more live fire for our infantry forces, and all of these ranges together make this a very complex live fire exercise."
Mixed platoons of British, U.S. and Polish forces spent about an hour advancing on an enemy village, breaching its defenses and engaging enemy targets downrange. The infantry was supported by both U.S. Army Apache gunship helicopters and up-armored Humvees. Once the mission was complete, the infantry was evacuated from the site by British CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
Operating together at the tactical level opened many of the participating Soldiers' eyes about the differences and capabilities of their NATO Allies. "We learned different ways how they cleared rooms, how they cleared stairs, and we showed them our way of doing things," said Sgt. Bradly Headley, squad leader for Bad Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. "This is a new experience for most of my guys and it's definitely nice to share these experiences with [our Allies]."
Swift Response 15 wraps up next week after more than 3 weeks of training events across Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania. The exercise was designed to integrate multiple Allied nations' crisis response forces into a cohesive team and demonstrate the combined ability to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong a secure Europe.