POSTOJNA, Slovenia -- The 16th Special Troops Battalion (STB) deployed its forces forward to conduct a battalion-level exercise including a convoy live-fire exercise (CLFX), explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and aerial resupply here, March 19.
The purpose of the six-day training exercise, Vanguard Proof, was to demonstrate interoperability with NATO Allies and to validate the 16th STBs capability of projecting forces forward focusing on speed of assembly in an expeditionary environment.
Soldiers executed convoy operations from home stations in Germany and Italy to an end location more than 600 miles away crossing international borders.
"I am extremely proud of our empowered junior leaders," said Lt. Col. Brian J. Ketz, Commander of the 16th Special Troops Battalion. "In less than 48 hours, the battalion moved across four sovereign nations, traversed the Alps and immediately conducted operations upon integrating with our Slovenian Allies to set the stage for follow on sustainment forces."
More than 40 vehicles and 140 personnel traveled in four tactical convoy movements from Grafenwoehr, Germany; Baumholder, Germany; and Vicenza, Italy. This complex movement to Slovenia entailed coordinating march credits and diplomatic clearances for each respective country.
During Vanguard Proof, the 16th Special Troops Battalion and the 157th Logistics Regiment jointly operated the tactical operating center (TOC) to manage convoy operations. The U.S. and Slovenian forces shared one network through retransmission using a NATO frequency. Sharing a single network allowed both units to establish an interoperable relationship.
Six U.S. and two Slovenian Convoy Escort Teams (CETs) participated in the exercise, each consisting of four gun trucks firing .50 cal and 40mm weapon systems. U.S. and Slovenian forces shared tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to develop training proficiency.
"Vanguard Proof demonstrated both the importance and ability of U.S. and Slovenian forces to share TTPs, learn from one another and successfully execute operations in a joint environment," said Slovanian Brig. Gen. Milan Zurman, Commander of the Slovenian Army Logistics Brigade. "These types of events are critical to strengthening our alliance and further building a Strong Europe."
Vanguard Proof also incorporated EOD operations where teams from the 16th STB and 157th LOG REG ran responses to eliminate explosive threats. Each country developed scenarios for their foreign counterparts to respond to and to render the site safe.
The 16th STB utilized its own organic aerial delivery assets to resupply the organization with supplies, including food, water, and ammunition. The battalion also air-dropped more than 40 personnel from a static line jump. Both aerial operations demonstrated rapid deployment capabilities and the ability of the unit to sustain itself.
"I am proud of all the hard work from the Soldiers of the 16th Special Troops Battalion," said Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, Commanding General of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "This training parallels the pillars of a Strong Europe, including empowering junior leaders, training with our Slovenian Allies, and demonstrating a dynamic presence."
The 16th Special Troops Battalion's Vanguard Proof training exercise showcased the battalion's commitment to maturing sustainment capabilities, enhancing unit readiness and working hand-in-hand with NATO Allies to build a Strong Europe.