Exercise Saber Guardian 16
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Capt. Shaun A. Futch, an observer controller with the Joint Multi-National Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, works in conjunction with Romanian observer controllers at the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center in Cincu, Romania,... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Exercise Saber Guardian 16
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Denis Popp, a Romanian observer controller with the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center, in Cincu, Romania, describes the nearby training area during Exercise Saber Guardian 2016, July 30. Saber Guardian is a multinational military exercise i... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Exercise Saber Guardian 16
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team share road in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle with a herd of sheep during Exercise Saber Guardian at the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center in Cincu, Romania July 30. Saber Guardian, a multi... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Exercise Saber Guardian 16
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team halt their Abrams tank to scan for enemy forces during Exercise Saber Guardian 2016 at the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center in Cincu, Romania, July 30. Saber Guardian, a multinational mil... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Overseeing this situational training exercise are observer-controller-trainers or OCTs from these participating nations.

"Our responsibility is ensuring that the unit gets the best training that they can possibly have," said U.S. Army Capt. Shaun A. Futch, an OCT with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

Few soldiers have had the opportunity to train with international allies and partners. There are units that understand doctrine well enough, but have not been able to build on their tactics, techniques and procedures to refine and develop their standard operating procedures. Other units, brought together for the first time, have not had the opportunity to practice doctrine, said Futch. Exercise Saber Guardian 2016 gives approximately 2,800 military personnel from ten nations including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the United States that opportunity.

"It's a privilege to stay in the open, away from a desk, computers and be in the middle of the action and the troops," said Denis Copp, a Romanian OCT with the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center.

Copp has been at the Combat Training Center since 2008 and worked at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in 2012. Copp says that the most important part of being an OCT is having the right experience, knowledge, and to love what you do.

"Not everyone likes to be out in the field in all conditions like the troops," Copp said.

Throughout the training events, the OCTs evaluate the participating units to ensure safety and grade performance against predefined objectives. Following each event, they conduct an after-action review to discuss with Soldiers what the intended outcome was, what actually happened, what things went well, and what can be improved upon in the future.

I realize there are several ways to accomplish the same task and try to help units find the way that works best for them, said Futch. I apply new lessons learned I have observed throughout prior iterations to each new unit I work with.

OCTs play a vital role in these large-scale multinational training events, which is where Soldiers gain the invaluable experience they need in a safe but realistic environment.