By Sgt. Karen S Sampson (Army Reserve)October 14, 2016
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Exercise Allied Spirit V at the 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Readiness Center is nearly complete. The exercise, hosting rotational training units from across NATO runs Sep. 26 through Oct. 15.
More than 2,500 Soldiers from, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the U.S. conducted interoperability maneuver training and practiced secure allied communications throughout the exercise.
The main objectives for this exercise are refining European multinational mission command, exercising the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities (ASCA) and multinational interoperability in a realistic operational environment.
Accompanied by autumn chill and inclement weather, the AS V operational environment is set in modern Europe with many county-level communities, established governance, economy and solid infrastructure. The challenges facing rotational training units for AS V are based on the collective defense of a NATO member.
A key objective during the force-on-force scenario is identifying the community's best interest and maintaining stability and providing them protection against opposing forces.
"We, along with our Lithuanian counterparts were deeply committed to getting our teams throughout the area to help the populace immediately," said Capt. Daniel Crowell, commander of Bravo Co, 403rd Civil Affairs Bn, US Army Reserve, in Mattydale, NY.
The Army Reservists partnered with Lithuanian Army civil affairs and assisted communities under the duress of conflict, helped provide for their needs during and after attacks, and succeeded in protecting the civilians while the maneuver battalions attacked the opposing force.
"The civilian role-players were effective training," said Lithuanian Army civil affairs Lt. Dinas Kundrotas. "Our challenges were in networking information to several communities at once."
"Allied Spirit V exercised our capabilities to communicate positive common doctrine and our teams' collaboration seemed effortless by the end of the mission," added Crowell.
The Lithuanian Army's "Iron Wolf Brigade" for the second time at JMRC provided the brigade headquarters for the entire multinational task-force, establishing a mobile headquarters to move throughout the tactical area as needed. Iron Wolf Brigade planned offensive and defensive operations, fire support and stability tasks throughout the entire exercise.
The 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard was the higher control (HICON) during Allied Spirit V. "This mission was very artillery-fire centric, said U.S. Army Sgt. David Anderson, Fires Direction Operations Noncommissioned Officer of 40th ID, California National Guard. "Several missions required planning and execution of field artillery support in some way."
"We stayed busy, Anderson exclaimed. "We fired in over 250 missions, expending over 3,000 rounds in support of Iron Wolf."
Other units training alongside the Iron Wolf Brigade included the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, from Vilseck, Germany; 1st battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade form Vicenza, Italy; and the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade from Ansbach, Germany.
As part of the larger scenario, the United Kingdom and Lithuania each provided a brigade headquarters to conduct computer simulation command post exercises that maneuvered their brigades north and south of the Iron Wolf Brigade's area of operations. While all of it exists in cyberspace, these CPXs add a high degree of realism to the training for all units involved.
Additional support for the exercise came from U.S. Army Reserve soldiers and U.S. Army National Guardsmen including the 402nd Combat Engineer Sappers from the 411th Theater Engineer Command, Louisiana Army National Guard, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, New York Army National Guard and Medical Operations Support from Tennessee Army National Guard.
Canada's 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment was attached directly to the 1st battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, and endured an 18-hour tactical defense alongside their allies during the early days of the exercise. His experience with the exercise demonstrated the value of being able to train together right here in Europe.
"If we were fighting together the first time in a real operation it would not go smoothly," said Lt. William Buss, Alpha Company, Canadian Armed Forces, PPCLIR.
"I am sure a lot of Soldiers have learned from the high operation tempo of this training area, said Sgt. Derek Klomo, a Soldier from Fox Troop, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. "I think Allied Spirit V at Hohenfels has benefitted Fox Troop greatly."
"When it comes to us being boots-on-ground here, you start noticing that trained muscle memory kick in," he added.
"It's a benefit to practice with other nations because communications will forever be a point to improve, Buss stated. "Learning another nation's information flow verses ours and finding a middle ground will pay dividends."
The Allied Spirit V experience instilled valuable lessons for rotational units to implement for future Allied operations. The exercise ends Oct 15.