VILSECK, Germany -- Troopers assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment load their last bags, check their communications, take accountability of equipment and conduct their last preventive maintenance check on their vehicles before they roll out for Dragoon Ride II May 27, 2016.
The first of two convoys called Task Force Hell, which is under the command of Field Artillery Squadron, leaves from Rose Barracks, Germany to begin their 2400 km road march through six countries including Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. The convoy will stop in several cities along the route to participate in vehicle static displays and community engagements before ending in Estonia to conduct several training exercises.
"It is very important," said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Joseph, 3rd Platoon sergeant for Weapons Troop, 4th Squadron. "We emphasize mission readiness with vehicles, personnel and equipment. You always have to be ready to move within 96 hours to get to wherever part of the world. So, this is actually a practical exercise to ensure we are able to move and promote interoperability with our allies and with other nations while moving up to Estonia."
The road march is nothing new to 1st Lt. Marcus Fisher, executive officer for Archery Battery, FA. He has driven to Hungary and Romania. On this trip, he wants to share his experience with Troopers in the battery and hope they gain a deeper insight into their role in Europe.
"At the battery level (the convoy) is to show we can move, it's to exercise our vehicles and it's to show we can get to our destination," he explains. "I want the Troopers to, one, open their eyes to different cultures. I want them to understand that America is a great country and we are here to support other countries and to understand the cultures of each individual country we are going through and respect those cultures. I also want them to know that we are a part of NATO and the Baltic States are as well and to understand what that means as part of NATO."
Staff Sgt. David Desantis, a Stryker Mobile Gun System Commander assigned to Weapons Troop, 4th Squadron is excited to get underway. He and his crews are up to the challenge to learn more about their vehicles while being out on the road for two weeks.
"This is about learning to love the truck. You learn your vehicle by living on it in a lot of cases," Desantis says between grins. "So, taking that personal point of pride, that extra mile, they are going to learn how to 'fight the systems'. Every little thing that goes on in a truck you have to be ready to adjust fire to, you learn the little steps that you have to go through to make things run smoothly."
Dragoon Ride II is being conducted with two separate road marches; Task Force Hell and Task Force Saber which will leave a few days after. The convoys will demonstrate U.S. land forces' dynamic presence throughout the region and exhibit freedom of movement from Germany to Estonia.
Throughout the movement, some logistical support will be provided by each allied country the vehicles drive through. Saber Strike 16 will commence once the Troops arrive in Estonia.
Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise designed to improve joint interoperability through a range of missions that prepares the 13 participating nations to support multinational contingency operations. The exercise serves as an effective proving ground for units to validate their ability to assemble rapid-reaction forces and deploy them on short notice where needed.