CAMP ADAZI, Latvia -- The sounds of artillery echoed in the distance as Paratroopers assigned to Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne, conducted a company-level Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) with NATO partners at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Dec. 7, 2016.
"We wanted to create a combined arms live-fire maneuver where we could integrate indirect fire, direct fire, aerial assets, our NATO partners and a set of complex problems that leaders at the platoon and company level have to solve," said Capt. Trenton Wiggins, assistant operations officer, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
The 'Sky Soldiers' of 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., are on a training rotation in support of Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.
While Paratroopers assigned to Bravo Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne, provided indirect fire, Battle Company began their assault.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters flew in, delivering the first wave of Battle Company Paratroopers and elements from partnered NATO forces.
With forces on ground, the maneuver progressed rapidly. Latvian engineers from the Engineer Company, Combat Support Battalion, Latvian Land Force Infantry Brigade, conducted a breach allowing Battle Company and Slovenian soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 10th Slovenian Infantry Regiment to move onto their objective.
"The hardest part is the coordination of all the pieces," said Col. Greg Anderson, commander, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "We spend a lot of time training artillery, training marksmanship, training physical condition and training communication. The wonderful thing about this sort of live-fire is that now all of the pieces have to be put together."
Battle Company laid down suppressive fire while a small, squad element cleared the bunker. Once clear, the partnered forces filtered into the trenches, established their positions and began to neutralize the enemy.
The success of the CALFEX was dependent upon each of the small groups and the leaders of those groups working together, Wiggins explained. The train-up required each team to develop cohesion individually first in order to augment the company as a whole.
"This is our culminating company live-fire exercise, so it demonstrates deterrence and showcases our technical and tactical capabilities," Wiggins said.
Each company within 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. will complete the assault to validate their collective expertise and mission readiness alongside their NATO partners.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency
Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
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.