MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania -- Soldiers, tanks and M88 recovery vehicles from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment ("Fighting Eagles") have arrived at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase, Romania, in support of Atlantic Resolve.
So far more than 350 soldiers have arrived in February with another 150 set to show up before the end of the month. On Tuesday, Fighting Eagles soldiers downloaded M1A2 Abrams tanks from the first train that arrived at this eastern Romanian air base located about 20 kilometers away from the Black Sea.
Over the course of a few days, Soldiers and equipment had traveled about 1,800 kilometers across four countries from western Poland, where the battalion and the rest of the 3,500 Soldiers of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division who have deployed to Europe initially assembled.
"We traveled through Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Romania, testing the battalion's ability to assemble quickly and move across Europe via rail and roads," said Maj. Scott Stephens, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment executive officer. "The cooperation and trust of allied nations to freely maneuver U.S. military equipment and personnel across Europe is essential to the success of Operation Atlantic Resolve and the security of allied European countries."
Speaking to Romanian media as his Soldiers helped off-load tanks from rail cars, Stephens added: "This is very challenging logistically to pull this off, to move this equipment across the sea [from home station Fort Carson, Colorado], onto trains and across Europe. We've learned a lot, but this is part of the reason why we are here. It is vital we learn [from] these experiences to be able to quickly deploy in the case of future operations."
Participating in Atlantic Resolve means the 3rd ABCT will conduct bilateral and multinational training with allies in eight different countries. For 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, the emphasis will be on increasing interoperability with Romanian and Bulgarian land forces over the next six months.
"We are so excited to begin integrating with the Romanian army and begin training with our Allied partners," said Maj. Michael Harrison, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment operations officer. "Living and working alongside our allies daily will build confidence in our ability to operate as one team if we're ever called to respond immediately to any crisis."
Training opportunities will include taking part in the multinational Saber Guardian 17 exercise in July as well as the opportunity to work with a new multinational brigade first proposed at the NATO Warsaw summit in July 2016 and based in Romania.
"We stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with our NATO partners and our allies," Stephens said. "It's not just through words, it's through actions, it's through presence. We are here; we have incredible fighting capabilities with us; and we are here to stand with our Allies to reassure them that NATO is a viable source."