By 2nd Lt. Brandt Ange & Spc. Jasmin FloresOctober 7, 2016
Lest, Slovakia -- Soldiers from the 10th Army and Air and Missile Defense Command further strengthened air defense interoperability in the European theater by participating in this year's installation of the multinational air defense exercise Tobruq Legacy 16, 14 September to 7 October.
Exercise Tobruq Legacy is an annual multinational air defense exercise designed to increase the interoperability of allied nations in Europe both tactically and technically. Throughout the history of the exercise, each new installment has aimed to increase not only the number of Soldiers and equipment used in the exercise but to also increase the number of nations participating in the event. This year continued the ever increasing trend with over 1000 air defenders from 8 nations directly participating in the event, and an additional 8 nations present as observers. In addition to this perpetual increase in size, the planners for Tobruq Legacy also aim to increase the complexity of the exercise every year. This year the 8 participating nations linked over a dozen different pieces of air defense equipment under a single command structure, demonstrating a dramatic increase in capacity and capability from previous iterations of this exercise.
"From a holistic perspective Tobruq Legacy 16 is all about bringing together different countries to train together as one entity." explained Maj. Darius Randolph, the Battalion Operations Officer for 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, "It's about enabling the alliance and ensuring our allies that we are there to stand side by side together when needed."
In addition to building an ever more impressive display of a unified European air defense, exercise Tobruq Legacy also focuses on building the relationships between the air defenders from all 16 of the participating nations, with the goal of building long lasting relationships between air defense professionals to enable the continued growth of interoperability. To ensure they achieved this goal, the Tobruq Legacy 16 planners ensured they scheduled events such as soccer tournaments and multinational meal times throughout the exercise to foster more personal interaction and deepen the professional relationships between air defenders at every level.
"It is very nice to see the other nations working with air defense systems," responded Maj. Ovidijus Pilitauskas, the Chief of Staff of the Lithuania Air Force Air Defense Battalion, when asked about the exercise, "The relationships we are building [are very important because at the end of the day it's not the weapon systems that fight it's the people.]"
In addition to being able to exercise multinational air defense tactics, techniques, and procedures, the air defenders from the 10th AAMDC were also able to test and refine reception, staging, onward movement, and integration procedures, or RSOI, of an additional air defense unit to the European Theater as well as command and control practices with the 174th Ohio National Guard Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The 174th ADA BDE serves as a deployable brigade headquarters designed to enhance the current command and control structure in the European Theater while providing the pivotal role of short range air defense for US forces. By participating in Tobruq Legacy 16, the 174th ADA BDE and the 10th AAMDC were able to demonstrate the Army Total Force Policy by effectively uniting both active duty and national guard Soldiers under a unified command while training in a contemporary multinational scenario.
Whether it was integrating national guard units into the active duty command and control structure, conducting air defense operations with multinational partners, or building stronger relationships with multinational partners Tobruq Legacy 16 was an overwhelming success, and next year's iteration looks to continue the trend and be an even greater event. With multinational air defense exercises tied into Saber Guardian, the establishment of a tactically spread multinational ground-based air defense task force, and short range air defense live fires already on the training docket, Tobruq Legacy 17 will definitely be an exercise to look forward to.
"My experience has been amazing," stated Sgt. Justin Borror, the HHB 5-7th ADA Information Coordination Central NCOIC, "I have learned a lot from the different countries here not just about the Army side of the house but more about their culture, where they are from and their day to day lives."