By Sgt. Daniel ColeNovember 5, 2015
ZARAGOZA, Spain (Nov. 5, 2015) -- Approximately 20 Pennsylvania Army National Guard Soldiers, assigned to the 213th Regional Support Group, or RSG, are taking part in Exercise Trident Juncture 15, working as a vital asset in the exercise's tactical operations center.
Trident Juncture 2015, which boasts more than approximately 36,000 participants from more than 30 nations, is being conducted primarily in Spain, Portugal, and Italy with additional activities in Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, as well as maritime operations in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Officers and noncommissioned officers from the 213th RSG originally volunteered for the opportunity to work in Europe to support the exercise and have worked almost non-stop over the past weeks.
Capt. Andrew Campbell, an operations officer, assigned to the 213th RSG said the exercise has been fantastic and a bit different than what he is used to in the United States.
"It is a little bit of a change of pace from our home station duties," Campbell said. "It is a great experience for us. We get to work with the active-duty component and our multinational partners."
Campbell also adds that working in this NATO environment has empowered many of the 213th's junior noncommissioned officers and is a great way to develop them in a multi-nation environment.
"It gives them exposure to militaries that are different than the United States military and they get to see how other militaries do things," he said.
Nicole Brittain, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 213th's personnel division, said the work her unit is doing at Trident Juncture is critical to supporting the mission.
Brittain emphasizes that one of the responsibilities she oversees here is to ensure all U.S. personnel taking part in the exercise are accounted for. Any discrepancies or injuries are immediately reported.
The Pennsylvania National Guard is also part of the State Partnership Program, or SPP, which partners the United States with European countries.
Brittain explained that Pennsylvania is partnered with Lithuania, a nation that is taking part in the current exercise, and that the SPP is critical for maintaining cohesion between the two groups.
"It is a true partnership between the Lithuanians and us," she said. "They feel very comfortable with us working side-by-side. No matter what happens here [in Europe] or anywhere, the Pennsylvania National Guard is ready to go."
The integration and utilization of the National Guard and reserve components are one of the crucial components that make up the five pillars of a "Strong Europe."
The National Guard plays a critical role by supporting exercises across the Atlantic Ocean. It is not only a way for these Soldiers to meet their required yearly two-week training time but also a way to build partnerships with nations they may work with in a combat environment.