Slovenia - After driving more than 27 hours, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, has crossed into Slovenia, Oct. 28, 2015, just one border shy of home after day seven of a multinational road march known as Operation Bayonet Thrust.
Bayonet Thrust is a demonstration of NATO's ability to move forces freely across allied borders and maintain freedom of movement across the region that began in Estonia at the conclusion of the brigades' five-month long participation in Operation Atlantic Resolve. Three convoys, made up of more than 40 vehicles and more than 200 paratroopers will cross nine country borders to include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Croatia, Slovenia, and finally Italy.
"Bayonet Thrust has been a great experience," said Sgt. Jason Garia, assigned to Company D. "My job is to monitor the radios and to ensure the safety of the driver and surrounding vehicles. It's an important part of Bayonet Thrust, because it prevents accidents and keeps the guys alert so we don't have to slow down the convoy or risk safety of any civilians."
The purpose of Bayonet Thrust is to provide training, strategic access and interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO partners and allies. But it also serves as the end of a long road home, explains Garia.
"We're on day seven of Bayonet Thrust, so we have one day left, we will stop today in Postojna and then tomorrow is our last leg and then we'll be in Italy. It's been a long five months being in Estonia [I'm] just glad to be headed back."
The battalion is slated to return home after the completion of the road march Oct. 29, 2015. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe and is capable of deploying ready forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands' areas of operations within 18 hours.