By Staff Sgt. Ange Desinor (3rd ABCT, 4th ID)May 31, 2017
HOHENFELS TRAINING AREA, Germany -- Soldiers of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are gearing up with land and aviation forces from six NATO allied and partner nations for a Combined Resolve VIII exercise that will put them through an intense scenario to defend a European nation from attack.
Tanks, wheeled and tracked artillery, helicopters and more have been arriving here over the last week, assembling a multinational contingent from Albania, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Romania and the Ukraine that will directly operate within the U.S. 3rd ABCT's combined-arms structure.
They'll spend a few days getting acclimated to each other's capabilities during enhanced maneuver lanes before entering a nine-day battle period that pits them against a conventional force of equal strength. The complex scenario focuses on how unified land operations would be conducted if a NATO Article V incident was to occur, where an attack on on ally would be considered an attack on the entire alliance.
"We always look forward to these types of training rotations because it brings us all together, creates a larger team," said Lt. Col. George Mitroka, commander, 588th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. "It's always a pleasure working together with people who are from different places with one goal in mind: accomplishing the mission together."
All total, more than 3,400 participants from 10 nations will take part in Combined Resolve VIII, with some working in the capacity of a higher echelon above 3rd ABCT, managing the larger fight. The 3rd ABCT brought more than 2,100 Soldiers to the exercise, which also served as a chance to demonstrate that the brigade can quickly assemble and move a large portion of its forces around Europe.
The environment in Germany offers different challenges to what 3rd ABCT Soldiers have trained on during prior brigade-level exercises, such as a National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California.
"The terrain that were are going to be training on is vastly different than open desert terrain," said Mitroka. "We have done and continue to do a lot of reconnaissance, and we have been working in this type of constricted, highly populated environment for the last four months. We've prepared ourselves the best that we can for what we are about to encounter here."
As part of the mix for Combined Resolve VIII, 3rd ABCT has integrated Romanian infantry and artillery, Hungarian wheeled infantry, Albanian anti-armor and aviation assets, a Kosovar explosive ordnance disposal team, Ukrainian mechanized infantry, and Finnish exchange officers working with U.S. maneuver battalion staffs.
"This training is great practice," said 1st Lt. Imre Nagy, a Hungarian soldier from Bocskai István Infantry Brigade. "I've had experience working with the U.S. Army before and appreciate what we can share during training. I'm looking forward to another successful mission with the U.S. Army and other countries."
Training with multinational forces is an experience the 3rd ABCT has grown accustomed to as its served since January as U.S. Army Europe's regionally allocated land force under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"This exercise differs from the last brigade-level training we conducted at NTC in that now we're training to defend against a near-peer threat who's just as strong as we are rather than a counter-insurgency fight," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Alvarez, a senior telecommunications sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd ABCT.
"The training location and the opportunity to work with other nations and combine our forces also makes this more complex. We are touching up on the basics with things like warrior tasks and battle drills as we join with our allies and partners," he said.
Also participating is the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment from Fort Bliss, Texas, which is serving as part of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade's regionally allocated force for Atlantic Resolve.
Integration allows all of the elements supporting and working with the brigade to strengthen interoperability -- the ability to move, shoot and communicate together.
"The first challenge is that most of the enablers that come to work with our organization, we are meeting them for the first time. You only spend a few days getting to know each other and build a relationship in a short amount of time," said Mitroka.
"But we embed them into our battle rhythm, planning sessions, integration in companies. Building the team and getting over the initial friction of not knowing each other quickly mitigates any initial challenges."