By Sgt. Devon Bistarkey, U.S. Army Maryland National GuardMarch 15, 2017
HOHENFELS, Germany -- The Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany served as the proving ground for interoperability as U.S. and U.K. Troops participated in a Validation Exercise (VALEX), March 8-14, 2017.
Troopers with 4th Squadron, 2nd Calvary Regiment, along with their British counterparts, Alpha Squadron, Light Dragoons, convoyed from Rose Barracks, Germany to the training hub in central Germany where they participated in a three-phase integrated operation to test leader proficiency, communication interoperability and coordination with adjacent units.
For the first time, British forces will attach to a U.S. Battle Group in support of the NATO led effort, enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), in Poland at the end of the month. As Allied forces gear up for the six-month rotational deterrence mission, this training will leverage joint capabilities and interoperability during their deployment.
"The key task here is communication in order to de-conflict time and space on the field," said U.K. Maj. Noel Claydon-Swales, Alpha Squadron Leader of the Mustang Troop, Light Dragoons. "This is difficult stuff, being able to speak to one another on-the-move" in less than 24 hours."
The behind the scenes effort to establish communication between the two allied systems involved technical expertise and collaboration. As a testament to the hard work of the Royal Signals and 4/2 CR, radio checks came over the net loud and clear during the final phase of the VALEX. A part of the 24-hour continuous mission, radio communication allowed the two Troops to do what they do best -- conduct reconnaissance operations.
In preparation for upcoming operational deployments and multinational exercises completing the Regimental Commander's certification of Troops validates participants by replicating current threat scenarios and running continuous missions.
As part of the test scenario, the attached British Mustang Troop, conducted terrain recon and Key Leader Engagement missions while Outlaw Troop, 4th Squadron conducted enemy focused zone reconnaissance.
"This is a test of Soldiers and systems," said U.S. Maj. James C. Anderson, Observer Controller for the Troop VALEX. "What we are looking to achieve is for them to fight as a team -- this means sending Situational Reports (SITREPS), do radio checks and ultimately learning from each other."
The enhanced battalion sized exercise tested not only system interoperability, but challenged Troops to develop a common language.
Leaders learned that while the two Allies speak the same language, adapting to different military lingo was an additional challenge. Whether its "find and understand" or "zone recon", developing a common language was key.
"There's commonality and comradery here," said U.S. Maj. James Perkins, 4th Squadron Executive Officer, on the integrated operations. "Soldiers are Soldiers -- there is a professionalism and drive that's inherent. We all have answered a higher purpose to be here and defend the Alliance with an eagerness to train and bond."
A successful VALEX here ensures command and control interoperability and sends a noticeable message that the operational tempo across NATO has shifted from assurance to deterrence.