By Sgt. Paige BehringerJanuary 16, 2016
SKWIERZYNA, Poland - Polish and American soldiers jovially marched on icy paths through snowy woods while exchanging patches and discussing job similarities during the week of Jan. 13-17, in Skwierzyna, Poland.
Under normal circumstances, soldiers wearing the wrong patches would be subject to an on the spot correction, but leaders of A Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Brigade let it slide just for a little while in the name of partnership.
Soldiers of 5-7 ADA drove M901 Patriot Launching Stations all the way from Baumholder, Germany to spend a few days comparing notes with Polish North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies during Patriot Shock, an interoperability deployment readiness exercise.
In order to demonstrate their rapid deployment capabilities, 5-7 ADA soldiers kicked off the exercise by setting up their Patriot radar set, antenna mast group, M901 Patriot Launching Stations and other accompanying systems.
Once everything necessary to launch a Patriot missile was in place, 5-7 ADA was ready for their validation.
"In any tactical situation if (our enemy situation) were to suddenly change, being able to react to is very important, and we like to stay sharp," said 1st Lt. Joseph Fideler, a 5-7 ADA tactical control officer.
Teams of soldiers conducted drills to deconstruct each piece of equipment in 30 to 45 minutes or less before moving by convoy to a new training site. Upon arrival, 5-7 ADA soldiers had one hour to have the entire tactical operations center up and running again to meet the certification standard.
"The drills at first with new soldiers start out pretty slowly just to get the steps down, and with repetition you just get faster and faster," Fideler said. "We have five different vehicles up-range and the launchers downrange. Everything comes together. To the outside onlooker at first you're like, 'Wow! How does this all work?' As each crew learns the drills and it speeds up with them it's amazing how it meshes, and the teamwork is incredible."
By no means was Patriot Shock meant to be all work and no play for 5-7 ADA. As any outsider can plainly observe, this efficient, hard working unit knows how to have a good time.
In the name of interoperability American soldiers were treated to a day of high-spirited demonstrations and static displays by their Polish counterparts, the 35th Air Defense Squadron.
"I think it's a great training opportunity, especially for new soldiers coming in," said Cpl. Fredrick Morgan, a 5-7 ADA nodal systems network operator-maintainer. "Our soldiers, including some of my own, had a good time learning about the Polish equipment."
As a testament to their morale and esprit de corps, 5-7 ADA soldiers made sure to cheer while Polish soldiers proficiently loaded missiles into an anti-missile system launcher.
"The way the Polish soldiers work on their equipment it seemed pretty rapid, pretty proficient," said Morgan, a native of West Milford, New Jersey.
American soldiers had an opportunity for a hands-on look at the equipment before the two armies came together for a group photo symbolizing their NATO partnership.
Polish allies also demonstrated their 23mm anti-aircraft weapon system and vehicle decontamination procedures.
Morgan said he thinks the American and Polish soldiers alike had a good time learning about each others equipment in addition to trading patches and flags.
After a hearty lunch, 5-7 ADA thanked their Polish allies generous efforts by showing off the ins and outs of the Patriot missile equipment.
Once again, the soldiers from two NATO countries came together for a group photo solidifying the camaraderie built during Panther Assurance.
"The (Polish) soldiers, they love us here," Morgan concluded. "For us to be here to show our commitment to them and to do what we need to do to help them out ... it seems like it's a really great thing."