SLUNJ, Croatia - Rolling in over 14 tons of steel, soldiers from the Croatian Armed Forces mobile infantry, used their Patria Armored Modular Vehicles to push through Croatia's multifaceted Eugen Kvaternik training range, here, Sept. 13, 2016, as part of exercise Immediate Response 16.

The Situational Training Exercise lane included soldiers from the Croatian Armed Forces mobile infantry, whose objective was to occupy an assembly area and tactically maneuver through a challenging terrain of thick bush, dense forestation and steep cliffs. Additionally, Observer Controllers or OCs from the Slovenian Armed Forces were present to observe and monitor the safety of the training.

"Croatia and Slovenia have been neighbors for centuries. Our relationship has always been good and stable, but we must continue to develop our militaries to ensure that we're ready to be interoperable," said Slovenian Army Cpt. Frank Klemen, Deputy Officer in Charge for Exercise Control. "That's why most of our planning, training, tactics and procedures have become the same which is very important because we work together on many deployments."

To complete the task of occupying the assembly area, the Croatian mobile infantry sent out a reconnaissance platoon to gain information about the area and detect enemy presence. After the area was cleared and secured, a small reconnaissance element remained as the rest of the platoon linked back up with the main body of troops.

Next they employed their Patria AMV to transport troops to the new location. The vehicle can weigh between 14-24 tons and can reach speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour.

"The Patria AMV is mainly used to transport infantry troops, swiftly and efficiently. The vehicles protect us and enable us to utilize them for support by fire," said Sgt. Marin Gataric, an infantryman in the Croatian Armed Forces mobile infantry. "We use them because they are very versatile and good for many different training environments."

At the new location, soldiers conducted final preparations by concealing their vehicles and pushing troops further into the bush to reinforce the security perimeter already established by the reconnaissance platoon. The last step was for the troops to move out of the area.

Just as swiftly as they had moved in, the Croatians tactically maneuvered their Patria AMV's out of the area with a small team remaining to keep the area secure.

For Croatia's final task in IR16, they will use their Patria AMV's to occupy an assembly area, and secure the perimeter with support by fire, which will allow follow-on missions by other NATO allies and partners within the exercise, said Gataric.

The overall goal of IR16 is to strengthen allied and partnered relationships, and to improve interoperability among partner nations.