By Sgt. Brian SchroederMay 8, 2018
HOHENFELS, Germany (May 8, 2018) -- The Polish Army's 12th Mechanized Division leads a multinational force in the Hohenfels Training Area against an opposing force as part of U.S. Army Europe's training exercise Combined Resolve X, from April 9 -- May 12.
During Combined Resolve X, the largest number of Polish forces to train outside of Poland comprise part of the ground forces, and also take charge of all operations at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. However, this is not the first time Polish Army Maj. Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak, 12th Mech. Div.'s commander has trained in the area known locally as "the Box."
"The culture here is a military culture, not a national culture," said Andrzejczak. "Our main goal is to increase interoperability within a multinational fighting force. It is more about how we approach (each other) and communicate between different parts of different units, and build our mission around the differences in where we are from."
Col. David W. Gardner, commander, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Div., Fort Riley, KS, said participating in the exercise helps his unit maintain mission readiness, but also gives him an opportunity to work with allied forces.
"The U.S. Army will seldom, if ever, do anything alone," Gardner said. "We have a commitment to the NATO alliance, and we have to train together to show we are a capable alliance. This allows all of us to get better at what we do."
Lt. Col. Pawel Bednarz, 3rd Motorized Infantry Battalion, 12th Mech. Bde.'s commander, said his main goal during the exercise is to see if his unit is on par with tactical and sustainment procedures compared to their U.S. Army counterparts, 2nd ABCT. He said the JMRC rotation is a way for his unit to do that and train in an environment close to reality.
"For us, it is a great opportunity to train in a completely different composition," Bednarz said. "In Poland, there is no field training capabilities to use anything like the MILES (multiple integrated laser engagement system) gear simulation system. Here, we train in an environment where everybody can 'kill' you, and you are able to fire some rounds and see if you are good enough to stay alive on the battlefield. It is increasing the will of soldiers to behave naturally, just as they would on the battlefield."
Command Sgt. Maj. Andrzej Woltmann, 12th Mech. Div.'s senior enlisted advisor said one of the main challenges on the modern battlefield is effective communication between nations.
"The future of warfare will happen between the cooperation of different NATO nations, so we have to train our cooperation with each other," said Woltmann. "The NATO glossary of terms and procedures is not standard. They have their own acronyms and procedures, just like U.S. and Polish soldiers do. In my opinion, we have to do everything we can to make things simpler. We have to find a common way of communication."
Andrzejczak said all who participate in multinational exercises at JMRC walk away with lessons learned they can take back to their unit, no matter where in the world that may be.
"What I do like here at JMRC is that it is a win-win; everybody wins," he said. "Even if you make mistakes or bad decisions, even if you lost equipment or soldiers, you feel the impact. You are getting nervous or tired and fighting with less combat power, but at the same time, the lessons you are taking are absolutely great.
"This exercise is about cooperation, it's about NATO," he added. "We are a big team. Without knowing each other and with the differences in equipment and the tactics, techniques, procedures, culture -- we will not be affective."
Overcoming those differences is a shared challenge between all participants and one that brings them together rather than apart. Gardner attributes this to the NATO alliance becoming smaller in terms of the people he knows.
"We talk about how small the Army is in terms of people you know," said Gardner. "Now, I often run into more and more allied officers I know.
"Some of these soldiers will come back to JMRC one day, and they are going to operate with the same people they work with now," Gardner added. "It will be meaningful for many people, if not all."
The training exercise involving approximately 3,700 participants is a U.S. Army Europe-directed, multinational exercise designed to give the Army's regionally allocated combat brigades in Europe a combat training center rotation within a joint, multinational environment.