POSTOJNA, Slovenia -- The Military Intelligence Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade conducted training with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) and the Slovenian army during Exercise Rock Sokol, a reconnaissance-based training event aimed towards emphasizing intelligence asset integration into maneuver battalion operations.
"Leveraging the brigade's intelligence assets for Rock Sokol enables our troops to be prepared to find and engage the enemy," said Lt. Colonel Michael F. Kloepper, Commander, 2-503rd IN (ABN). "Having these systems at our disposal on a no-notice deployment gives us the opportunity to better understand the battlefield."
Highlights of the first week of Exercise Rock Sokol, which ran from Feb. 29, 2016 through March 4, 2016, featured paratroopers from the Unmanned Aircraft System Platoon providing real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance coverage in Slovenian airspace courtesy of the RQ-7B Shadow.
The UAS Platoon showed their commitment to working alongside multinational partners in Europe by conducting cross-training on the system with a Slovenian ISR Company. The Platoon was able to enhance its training opportunity in Slovenia, having flown at the Postonja flight line in Oct. 2015 in support of 2-503rd IN (ABN) for Exercise Rock Proof V.
"Integrating collection assets to support the maneuver units is paramount for their success in being able to effectively visualize the battlefield," said 1st Lt. Shawn Robertson, the Multi-Function Platoon Leader of the MICO. "We are invested in smartly employing our capabilities as a force-multiplier in order to effectively drive operations."
Additionally, Human Intelligence collectors of the Multi-Function Platoon used Rock Sokol as an additional opportunity to enhance their craft while simultaneously supporting the warfighter. These collectors play an essential role in relaying an accurate depiction of the battlefield to maneuver commanders across the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
"Incorporating our HUMINT assets within the brigade's maneuver battalions provides them with a distinct perspective when conducting operational analysis," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shermaine Terry, a HUMINT Collection Technician. "The HUMINT enabler is in a unique position to equip the commander with the thoughts and the intent of the opposing force by directly engaging with the population on the battlefield."
Exercise Rock Sokol aimed to increase the operational proficiency of the 173rd Airborne Brigade by incorporating the unit's intelligence enablers to work alongside maneuver leaders at all levels while training with their Slovenian counterparts.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deploying forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Command Areas of Responsibility within 18 hours. The Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build stronger relationships and strengthen the alliance.