CINCU, Romania - While they've been feeding Soldiers the "old-fashioned way" atop a hill in Romania for the last two weeks ahead of the multinational exercise Getica Saber 17, food service specialists from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepared an American barbecue for the Fourth of July.
And this barbecue is no small undertaking.
"Since we are out here, we thought it would be a good idea for the Soldiers to have an opportunity to celebrate the holiday while they are away from home," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenroy Anderson, the senior culinary sergeant for 3/4 ABCT.
"Our head count is more than 1,500 Soldiers, and that's not including our host nation or coalition forces who we've invited. We have four containerized kitchens set up, and each of them can feed 600 people," said Anderson.
While some food services are contracted by the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program to ensure participating nations, enablers and other U.S. forces are fed during Getica Saber, the Iron Brigade has been serving meals from its mobile kitchens.
"We still serve the unitized group rations meal, which we are still going to distribute during the holiday meal," said Anderson, a day ahead of the Independence Day celebration. "Today, we are going to do a pig roast as something special for the Soldiers along with soda and chips. We want the Soldiers to have that opportunity to celebrate with good food."
Getica Saber 17, which runs from July 8-15 here, is designed to strengthen interoperability among the six participating nations of host Romania, Armenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Ukraine and the United States.
The Independence Day meal is a morale booster for the Soldiers who would typically celebrate the Fourth of July at home with a barbecue and fireworks. This year the Iron Soldiers are serving as the regionally allocated land force for U.S. Army Europe's Operation Atlantic Resolve, standing as a deterrent to acts of aggression against central and eastern European allies and partners.
"We also have the National Guard from 732nd Forward Support Company, 5-113th Field Artillery Battalion, out of Reidsville, North Carolina, as well as Soldiers of 497th CSSB, 101st Airborne Division, who are out here supporting us as well," said Anderson. "The they have provided us with field artillery support as well as engineer support. This mission and what we do brings everyone together and combines our skills."
Although the exercise has yet to begin, already Soldiers from different units and nations are finding common ground as they set up assembly areas and draw up plans for the fires coordination support exercise and combined arms live-fire exercise that will highlight Getica Saber.
"We have a wide range of experience here," said Anderson. "It's not just about rank. We have people with different backgrounds and skill sets. Some of the National Guard Soldiers, for example, are actually chefs on the civilian side. Those experiences have a positive effect on how we enhance the food out here to increase the morale."
The Soldiers think the pig roast is a great idea.
"I have years of experience cooking and have never done a pig roast before, especially in a field environment," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Hoiten, a food service specialist for 723rd Forward Support Company. "I'm up for the challenge and really happy that I can do it."
The Iron Brigade deployed to Europe in January on a nine-month rotation in support of USAREUR's Atlantic Resolve mission. The armored brigade combat team is the first of a continuous rotation of heavy brigades based in the United States that are bringing their entire equipment set to Europe to train alongside allies and partners as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to NATO.