By Sgt. Gregory SummersJanuary 31, 2018
HOHENFELS TRAINING AREA, Germany -- Soldiers with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are working seamlessly alongside their Czech counterparts in aviation, intelligence, and operations training during Exercise Allied Spirit VIII.
Over 4,100 participants from 10 nations have come together to train during the exercise, which is designed to strengthen relationships among participating militaries and NATO allies while deterring Russian aggression, at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, from Jan. 15 - Feb 5.
"Our role for Allied Spirit VIII is to provide aviation assets for all of the ground forces," said 1st Lt. Julia Frassetto, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.
Czech Republic airmen with the 22nd Helicopter Air Base have combined efforts with 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Soldiers and are fulfilling the aviation role together since both countries arrived at HTA.
"Some of these ground forces, both U.S. and multinational, are not used to having an aviation force to call on," said Frassetto. "It allows multinational forces to add us into their plans and use what we offer as a strategic advantage to accomplish the mission more efficiently."
Czech airmen were embedded within the aviation task force prior to moving to the tactical training area, also known as "the box."
"Before we jumped to the box, we established a relationship and began to understand each other's capabilities and differences," said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Kitchen, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter repairer, Company A, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion.
The head start paid off as both nations worked together prior to the exercise's movement.
"The Czechs are very well equipped. Our dialogue has increased together over the time frame we have been here," Kitchen added. "They've also provided force protection and manpower for our tactical assembly area."
"Since we started engaging each other early, we are able to utilize each other's strengths while providing air support with our aviation task force," Kitchen explained.
The airmen also provided information from lessons learned during the last Allied Spirit exercise when Czech aviation assets were on ground and engaged.
The task force tactical operations center's intelligence and operations shops can be seen as an exchange of dialogue between two countries working together to successfully accomplish missions during the exercise.
"Our intelligence guys are with their intelligence guys and our operations guys are with their operations guys working and learning together," said Czech Capt. Filip S., 22nd Helicopter Air Base.
Filip is an operations officer, who stated he is only able to provide his last initial due to the Czech military's security policies.
"We are enjoying this training because it allows us to go deeper in regards to our interoperability with U.S. Army operations," Filip said.
Frassetto, who is also an operations officer, said working together has provided opportunities to approach missions differently.
"It allows us to see a different side of things," Frassetto said. "Combining our strategies together is mutually beneficial for everyone."
The Czech airmen also agreed that there is plenty to take away after working with their U.S. allies.
"We see some differences, but we are here to help and learn," said Filip. "Together, we are operating successfully," he added, stating that he is happy with the new point of views and approaches his team has gained.
Soldiers of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade have also enjoyed working their Czech allies.
"The biggest benefit out of working with them has been that some of our Soldiers haven't had the opportunity to work hand and hand with other nations," Kitchen said.
With a unique, combined approach, the aviation task force has been able to provide aviation assets for multinational and U.S. ground forces throughout the exercise.
Those assets include medical evacuations with HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and air-to-ground fire support with AH-64 Apache helicopters. Also included are troop and supply movements with CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
"We are active with each other on many levels and are better prepared for every scenario moving forward regardless of which airframe is needed," said Kitchen.
"Based on experience from this exercise, we are interested in training together at this magnitude back in the Czech Republic," Filip said. "Working with U.S. Soldiers is the highlight of the exercise."