174th ADA and NATO demonstrate lethality over 16-day span
Story by U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle Larsen
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
As Soldiers from various nations stand in formation at an airfield deep in the woods of Ustka, Poland, with music echoing off the large missiles strategically placed behind the podium, Tobruq Legacy 2019 (TOLY19) comes to an end during a closing ceremony June 19, 2019.
TOLY19 is an annual multinational air defense exercise occurring from June 3-19, 2019, at various locations in Poland. The exercise was comprised of more than 3,000 personnel from 13 different countries.
U.S. Soldiers from C Battery, 1st Battalion, and 174th Air Defense Artillery regiment, joined these allied and partnered nations as part of the approximate 300 U.S. service members who participated in the exercise.
"The primary mission of the U.S. and NATO alliance is to build interoperability and through joint exercises like this we are able to focus on the fundamentals of training," said Col. David Shank, commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "The strength of our alliance comes from the bonds forged during these multinational events, such as the live fire exercise."
The joint exercise included multiple smaller scale exercises, such as a communications exercise and field training exercise (FTX). Adrenaline was high, as the FTX was capped off with an air defense artillery live fire exercise highlighted with Avenger missile systems and a Man-portable air-defense system blasting missiles through the air over the Baltic Sea.
"Firing the missile is probably the greatest feeling there is," said Spc. Matthew Lashley, an Avenger crewmember in C Battery. "Once you pull the trigger everything goes away with a loud bang, and it's just a great experience shooting a live missile."
The U.S. forces impressed the bystanders hitting 6 out of 8 moving targets as crowds gathered and cheered each time a missile pierced the outlaw drone, sending it to the rough Baltic waters.
The American Forces patiently waited down the coastline for their turn to fire their missiles as the Slovakian air defense units fired their missiles through the night sky. Other participating nations include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"For 'Charlie' Battery, 1st of the 1-174 ADA, this was a culminating event," said 1st Sgt. Scott Ralls, C Battery's first sergeant. "I would say the exercise was a success. Our Soldiers were able to come away with a better understanding of not just our weapons systems, but of these other nation's tactics and what they bring to the fight."
The key objective of TOLY19 was accomplished as nations were able to quickly deploy and integrate their land component air missile defense capabilities on a moment's notice to execute international air missile defense protection of allied and partnered territories along the Eastern border of Europe from any potential invasion from all adversaries.
"This exercise was very important because it allowed us to deploy and integrate with our Polish counterparts in the matter of a week," said Charles Vasquez, the battery commander. "We now understand more clearly and more fully what our allies are capable of doing and we could demonstrate what we are capable of doing because we all bring something different to the table."
As the annual exercise rounded out, the U.S. continues to exercise alongside and integrate with their allies and partners to ensure peace in Europe. Participation in TOLY19 enhanced the professional relationships and interoperability between the U.S. forces and allied and partnered militaries because a ready alliance deters real threats.