CAMP ADAZI, Latvia -- Built from the ground up, team dynamic doesn't come easy. From individual soldier-skills to playing a role in large synchronized maneuvers, Paratroopers must be proficient in deciphering what is going on to their left and right.
This holds especially true for Paratroopers assigned to Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, who conducted a company-level Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Dec. 10, 2016.
Able Company was the last to complete the CALFEX, which served as the culminating event for each company within 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. to demonstrate their expertise in conducting a company maneuver alongside their NATO partners.
"The difference progressing from a team to a company starts with the fundamentals, things like communication, spacing and violence of action," said Sgt. Hunter McTarsney, team leader, Able Company, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
When the teams began training together several months ago, before arriving in support of Atlantic Resolve, many of the Paratroopers were unfamiliar with each other and relied heavily upon the experience of more seasoned team members for guidance.
"There was a lot of progression and learning that needed to be done but after lots of training and consecutive exercises, it allowed the team to come together," McTarsney said. "We know how to communicate without using words and my team has become an extension of me as a team leader."
Team cohesion set the foundation for the Paratroopers to execute a company-level CALFEX.
"As we've progressed, we've just added more moving pieces," McTarsney said.
The moving pieces during this CALFEX included not only the number of Paratroopers maneuvering simultaneously, but also the support assets ranging from indirect fire and direct fire, to aerial assets and a breach conducted by Latvian engineers from the Engineer Company, Combat Support Battalion, Latvian Land Force Infantry Brigade.
"By the time the company live-fire rolled around, everyone had extensive training at the team and squad-level," McTarsney said. "We know our piece on an individual Soldier level and can assure the success of the company mission."
The ability to remain flexible on the battlefield is equally paramount in setting the Paratroopers up for success, explained Sgt. Maj. Jason Buda, battalion operations sergeant major, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
"The biggest challenge for the team leaders is just knowing their part and being able to adjust to the scenario because nothing is set in stone," Buda said. "It's an ever-changing environment and they have to be very dynamic. The scenario they train for during the rehearsals may be different on the ground."
As the Paratroopers continue to train with NATO allies throughout the duration of their tour in the Baltics, Buda hopes they are able to grasp the overall mission and their role in the execution.
"I hope they gain a better understanding of a company maneuver and the big picture: a holistic view of the battlefield and not just what their team does," Buda said. "Each team has an effect on the unit and the mission as a whole."
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.