WIESBADEN, Germany -- U.S. Army and British army signal soldiers are building interoperability, trust and relationships through technical and tactical skills training during exercise Stoney Run at the Sennelager Training Area, Germany.
Stoney Run is an annual U.S.-U.K. signal exercise between the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, and the 250th Signal Squadron, Queen's Gurkha Signals, designed to test and validate communications and network capabilities, and enhance interoperability and partner capacity between the two NATO allies. In addition to the technical signal interoperability objectives, this year's exercise has been expanded to include training on Soldier skills, small unit tactics and battle drills.
1st Sgt. Adam Dement, Bravo Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion first sergeant, explained that understanding each other's basic Soldier tasks allows the two sides to come together as a single force and establishes the basis for technical interoperability.
"Here in Europe we're dependent on our partners and allies to provide the total network architecture of what we're going to need, and in order to operate effectively together you have to understand the basic Soldier skills of each other," Dement said.
U.S. and British army instructors led the Soldiers through classes and practical exercises on various tactical skills, including patrolling, land navigation, entering and clearing a room, tactical combat casualty care, and reacting to contact drills.
Spc. Aaron Vasquez, assigned to B Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, was the primary instructor for the enter and clear a room class. He said while there wasn't a language barrier, there were some style differences between how the two armies execute tasks.
"I tried to teach them that you need to keep moving, because if you stop to engage then you make yourself a target," Vasquez said.
He said previous Stoney Run exercises have seen great accomplishments in technical signal interoperability, and said training now also includes the tactical Soldier skills that helps both sides really get to know each other better.
"At the end of the day, we are the biggest allies and we do a lot of NATO missions together, so it's very important that we create that interoperability so when we do have a serious event that we can work very well together," Vasquez said.
While Stoney Run is primarily a signal interoperability exercise, Soldiers from both sides agreed that the exercise is about more than just that -- it's about creating an environment of shared understanding.
Maj. David Lish, commander of the 250th Signal Squadron with the British forces, said Stoney Run is about building a better understanding of the people, equipment and processes on both sides.
"It's understanding the other side a little bit more, what motivates them, how they are different to us, and just strengthening that tie so that if we deploy with them somewhere, or someone that's tied to them, then we already got that relationship there and we're starting from a position of trust rather than an unknown quantity," Lish said.
During a visit to the training site April 24, Col. Jeff Worthington, commander of 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, told the Soldiers, "Stoney Run is about establishing a bond of trust and building a common understanding, and I thank you all for everything you are doing to accomplish that."
Exercise Stoney Run is from April 17 to May 1 in the British Army's Sennelager Training Area in northern Germany.
2nd Theater Signal Brigade conducts Department of Defense Information Network operations to enable mission command in support of U.S. Army, Joint and multinational operations throughout the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of operation.