LEST MILITARY TRAINING AREA, SLOVAKIA -- U.S. Army cavalry scouts and Indiana Guardsmen are fully engaged in joint-operations training alongside their NATO allies from the Czech Army, Polish Armed Forces, Hungarian Defense Forces, and the Ministry of Defense-Crisis Department and the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic.

4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Stryker Combat Team, based in Vilseck, Germany and Chemical, Engineer, Military Police and support personnel from the Indiana National Guard are taking part in Slovak Shield 2016 at Military Training Area Lest, Slovak Republic, from Oct. 6 to 13.

Slovak Shield 2016 is a multinational training exercise involving more than 2,000 participants. This year the training expanded beyond MTA Lest to include assets as far away as Bratislava, Slovakia and other locations fully integrated into the exercise.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are part of the Visegrad Group, known as V4, an alliance established since 1991. The Group's aim is to encourage optimum cooperation between the V4 countries and democratic development for all of Europe.

"Slovak Shield 2016 is a flagship exercise of V4 countries, plus our strategic partner, the United States," said Lt. General Pavel Macko, Slovak Shield director and 1st Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic.

"We've come together to train together to show the strength of our alliance, to show our competence and improve it; show our populations we are here to protect them."

During the exercise, multinational units are working side-by-side on combined arms ranges and in conducting a live fire exercise, testing every ally's ability to function as one.

"For us, I hope also for you, this is a unique exercise, but also a unique opportunity to train together and gain experience from the combined multinational environment," Macko said. "We can achieve and improve our interoperability and stand together, forming a strong alliance."

Slovak Shield is a part of Atlantic Resolve, a U.S.-led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and enduring peace and stability in the region.

The full integration of the Regular Army troops and Indiana Guardsmen was fitting after their many years working together through the National Guard State Partnership Program and U.S. Army Europe initiatives.

"It is an honor to be able to participate in this exercise with all of our NATO partners," said Lt. Col. Todd Baker, officer in charge of Indiana Guardsmen. "The Indiana National Guard has had a partnership with Slovakia for 25 years."

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U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.