KRIVOLAK TRAINING AREA, Macedonia - The Soldiers of the Regimental Engineering Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment joined with their Macedonian partners in a combined firing range exercise at Krivolak Training Area, Macedonia on August 1, 2017.
The range was a chance for soldiers of each nation to come together and train as a singular unit. This is a part of the RES' mission in Macedonia to create a working rapport with their partners and enhance the relationship between the two nations. 2nd Lt. Craig Hodge, an assistant planning officer with RES, 2CR, spoke on the importance of these ranges.
"We started training with our Macedonian partners here to get them familiar with our weapons, and we were familiarized with their rifles only a few days ago," he said.
The RES is currently in country as a part of Dragoon Guardian, a 10-day exercise that is an offshoot of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a NATO mission involving the U.S. and Europe in a combined effort to strengthen bonds of friendship and to deter aggression.
The exercise saw U.S. Soldiers guiding Macedonian soldiers on the operation of the M4 rifle. Previously, the U.S. Soldiers were trained to use the Macedonian AK-47 Rifle under the guidance of their counterparts. There was also an M9 Beretta pistol range. Hodge elaborated further on what the RES has accomplished so far in working with their counterparts.
"We've done a lot in the way of relationships here. We've been training together and we even built this range for the Macedonians to use in the future," he said.
The squadron also has been working alongside the Macedonian military in building a new air strip for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, to be finished in the near future.
It's smaller exercises like this that strengthen the relationship between these partnering countries. From constructing new infrastructure projects, to getting soldiers to be able to operate as a single unit, these training events and ranges allow soldiers of both nations to bond and work seamlessly together.
U.S. Army Sgt. Michael McMurphy, a team leader with the 110th Military Police Company, currently attached to the RES, summed up what he felt was the biggest lesson of the day.
"It's good to train with our partners so we understand our capabilities if a real fight comes," he said.