By Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. PolancoMay 4, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (May 4, 2017) -- Tuesday was a big day with a lot of moving pieces for the Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) as the unit executed an assessed-tactical convoy from Vilseck to the Hohenfels Training Area (HTA) during part of its certification process in Saber Junction 17.
The evaluation process began when the regiment received a notification of approaching enemy forces and will end upon completion of recovery at its home station. Soldiers had 96 hours to plan and execute how they would move personnel and equipment from a garrison to combat operations environment.
"We're building a team of multinational partners and allies," said Capt. Sean Navin, one of 7th Army Training Command's Observing Coach Trainers (OCT) who is evaluating 2CR's firing battery. "So it's a challenge to quickly, within 96 hours, build a fighting task force, conduct a tactical convoy to the HTA and engage a near-peer threat."
Navin said these skills are basic tasks that need to stay sharp, and that's why units train in exercises like Saber Junction.
Saber Junction is an annual U.S. Army Europe-directed exercise designed to assess and certify the readiness of the U.S. Army's two Europe-based combat brigades to conduct unified land operations with an emphasis on tactical interoperability among the Allied and partner-nation forces.
This year's exercise features approximately 4,500 participants from 13 Allied and Partnership for Peace nations.
It was on all the regiment's elements to collectively work together to execute the operation order in the specific timeline, all while dealing with the pressure of being evaluated.
"We're using some maneuver rights areas that are outside the HTA, which is unique compared to other exercises that actually start in HTA," Navin said.
The maneuver area is larger than some rotations, so accountability of personnel and equipment, maintenance and logistics became even more crucial aspects to keep in mind.
Having the ability to move through maneuver rights areas validates the regiment's or any unit's capability to react to a situation in a real-world environment.
"This is a phenomenal training opportunity," said Mark Ziegler, the Headquarters and Headquarts Battery commander of 2CR's Field Artillery Squadron. "This gives us the ability to see how fast we can react to an enemy force and respond to defend our NATO allies."
While certifying can add another level of stress and pressure to not make mission-detrimental decisions, Navin understands that units are going to make mistakes.
"The purpose of training is to continually progress and make all units better," said Navin. "At the end of the day, if they are better at the end of the rotation than they were at the beginning, then the rotation was a success."