VILSECK, Germany - In the darkness of the early morning hour, the low rumble of engines was heard in the 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment motor pool as Stryker Regiment Soldiers prepared to roll out and commence Exercise Dragoon Crossing, Sept. 13.
The weeklong tactical road march, from Vilseck, Germany, to Gyor, Hungary, demonstrates the freedom of movement within the NATO countries and "is an opportunity for us to work with more of our NATO allies and build those relationships with them," said Staff Sgt. Jason Ybarra, of Brighton, Colorado, who is the convoy noncommissioned officer in charge, with Forward Support Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
Throughout the route, the Stryker Regiment Soldier will participate in several community and training events along the way, such as a soccer game, airborne operations, static displays and a wet gap crossing.
"It also shows big time that we can actually work with other host nations," he said. "Even though we come from different countries, we are still able to use the same operating procedures pretty much throughout the whole of NATO forces. It doesn't matter if it's our country or another country, [any] job can get done no matter what."
For Spc. Tyrell Tucker of Mt. Verne, New York, a Stryker mechanic with Forward Sustainment Company, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the freedom of movement within Europe will ease support efforts in the future.
"It helps to know that we can get to the other countries even though we may not be stationed there," he said. "We get to know the routes to different countries and see how the roads are."
Exercise Dragoon Crossing is a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing series of training exercises and events designed to build relationships, trust and interoperability between the United States and its NATO allies.
As the Stryker Regiment Soldiers made their way from Germany into the Czech Republic, the strong bond between it and the United States was evident as some of the locals stood with American flags, waves and smiles on overpasses along the way.
"My Soldiers and I are amazed at the welcome we got," Ybarra said. "You just know that those people have been there all day just to see the convoys come through. It's really cool."
Despite the long hours of travel, the sun eventually set on this first day of Exercise Dragoon Crossing, and all looked forward to the upcoming events during the week.