EGYPT -- Eleven Soldiers from the 101st Expedition Signal Battalion, New York Army National Guard, provided real-world signal communications for U.S. Forces in support of Operation Bright Star 2018 at Mohamed Naguib Military Base near Alexandria, Egypt, from Sept. 8-20, 2018.

The Guardsmen, who were already deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, joined nearly 800 U.S. military service members and 7 partner nations for an exercise designed to enhance regional security and cooperation, and promote interoperability in irregular warfare scenarios.

Alongside the U.S., participating forces came from Greece, Jordan, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

"Providing signal support to Bright Star 18 was a tremendous opportunity for the 101 Expeditionary Signal Battalion to be part of U.S. CENTCOM's efforts at building and maintaining regional alliances," said Lt. Col. Ian Seagriff, the 101 ESC's commander.

Bright Star 2018, a biennial exercise that first took place in 1980, builds on the strategic security relationship between Egypt and the United States, which plays a leading role in counterterrorism, regional security, and efforts to combat the spread of extremism.

According to CENTCOM, the exercise included a Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal, a coastal patrol boat missile and gunnery exercises, as well as command post and field training exercises.

The trainings were aimed at exchanging experience and coordination between the forces participating in the exercises, standardizing concepts and improving skills of participants, as well as developing methods of operations and training on counterterrorism and non-traditional warfare.

"I enjoyed working with the Egyptian forces and other allied nations along with broadening my knowledge on the equipment," said Spc. Leighann Soto, a SNAP (SIPPR NIPPR Access Point) Team Operator with the 101 ESC.

"My experience was absolutely amazing," Leighann said.

Along with the benefits of interoperability, it also gave junior Soldiers and leaders an opportunity to hone various skills developed over the last 18 months leading to deployment, noted Seagriff.

"We stayed flexible, overcame obstacles in the dynamic environment, and completed the mission successfully," said Capt. Elissa Ho, a signal team officer in charge with the 101 ESC.

In additional to the benefits of tactical training in a joint environment, Soldiers also gained exposure to other cultures and visited world heritage sites.

"Along the way, we were able to immerse ourselves in Egyptian culture and food, and at the end of the mission, we were rewarded with the chance to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and tour Alexandria," said Ho.