By Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn, 173rd Airborne BrigadeFebruary 4, 2016
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade participates in U.S. Army Europe's Exercise Allied Spirit IV at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Jan. 10 through Feb 5, 2016.
More than 2,400 participants from seven NATO allies, were involved in the annual exercise taking place at the Hohenfels Training Area or, The Box, as it is known. The Box is unique in the fact that it provides a hands-on laboratory of vast live-fire ranges, and steep and forested terrain that can replicate many different environments.
The challenging terrain did not deter the paratroopers from the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, as they sent out teams to prepare and construct fighting positions, building on lessons learned from previous multinational exercises.
"So far we've worked with the British and the German armies," said Spc. Felipe Workman, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to the 54th BEB. "Working with our partners I noticed techniques and ways that we can incorporate in our engineering techniques like gripping vehicles instead of just pulling them out and chaining them up."
Workman said that in order to get the job done, working with his allied partners is essential.
"It's good to work with our NATO allies and partners in training because when the time comes to go to combat, we will have a better understanding of our operating procedures," said Workman. "So when we deploy, we can focus on our mission."
The exercise afforded an opportunity to incorporate the engineers into a combined environment allowing full-scale demonstration of fires, logistics and engineering capabilities during the exercise.
"Over the next few days we'll be conducting defense as a brigade and our battalion will be blocking and turning the enemy," said 1st Lt. Matthew Letarte, acting commander, Company A, 54th BEB. "Engineers are absolutely critical to the fight. We provide the countermobility that stops the enemy or channels them into an area where we then defeat them."
Engineers also provide survivability so that our fighting positions and obstacles keep our forces protected from enemy advances," said Letarte. "This enables friendly forces to last longer during the fight. We push the enemy to where we want them and then we defeat the enemy decisively at that point."
Allied Spirit IV is scheduled to run Jan. 10 through Feb. 5, 2016. Participating countries include Canada, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapid forces to the United States, Europe, Africa and Germany. The Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build stronger relationships and strengthen the alliance.