By CourtesySeptember 3, 2019
BEMOWO PISKIE Poland-The enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland (eFP BG POL) conducted a Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area Aug. 26-29.
The eFP consists of units from Croatia, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States. During the exercise, all nations had a distinct task and all received support from their colleagues in the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade in some shape or form.
There were several smaller training events leading up to this culminating exercise.
"Every echelon of command conducted field training and live-fire exercises prior to this Battle Group CALFEX," explained Lt. Col. Mark P. O'Neill, the eFP BG POL Commander.
During this particular training event, all four nations worked in sync, the United Kingdom performed reconnaissance and screening missions; the Croatians provided indirect fire capability through multiple launch rocket systems and the Romanians provided air defense.
The U.S. participated with its forward-deployed combined arms battalion comprised of tanks and infantry, added the commander. "This multinational combined arms live-fire exercise is a clear demonstration of NATO interoperability and highlights the fact that we are indeed "stronger together," O'Neill emphasized.
Representatives of the participating nations interviewed for this article agree on one thing: exercises like this are a great opportunity to work together with other nations in a realistic, multinational environment. "I think it is a quite rare experience to see how other people do things," said British Army Lt. Alexander Dzwig, the troop leader of Dragoon Troop, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. He also feels that it is great to work with other nations and be forced to find common ground through it. He predicts that any future operation he and his troops will participate in will likely be along with other nations, so training under similar circumstances "ensures [they] will have the best shot when [they] actually do deploy."
The spokesperson of the Blue Scorpions Air Defense Artillery Detachment from Romania, 1st Lt. Madalin Enache, said that "the advantage of multinational training is the fact that it expands interoperability training with the allied military...[and] increases the competence of security partners in the region..."
Capt. Krunoslav rnugelj, the spokesperson of the Croatian Blaze Battery serving under eFP BG POL shared a similar observation. "Multinational exercises like [this] are the greatest opportunity for Allies and partners to further increase our interoperability while constantly improving our cooperation and deepening our friendship during the period we are at the field. They also show us how compatible we are in the designated areas and what are the things we still need to work on. A very significant thing is that we are showing to Allies that we are here and that we can work together in maintaining a safe and secure environment," said rnugelj. As the eFP BG POL commander explained, the rolling terrain and the sizable woodlots are perfect for a Battle Group built around a combined arms battalion of tanks and infantry.
The battle group is comprised of 3rd Squadron from the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, with US soldiers from the Pennsylvania and Tennessee Army National Guard. Being deployed to Poland gives the unit an excellent opportunity to not only conduct individual, squad and platoon level training but also get a good taste of training at the company, battalion and battlegroup level, with NATO Allies. "As a deployed unit, we are high on the logistics priority list. We often get the parts and pieces we need to keep the fleet running a lot faster than we would when stateside," said O'Neill.
The next major training event for the unit is the Bull Run exercise in mid-September. This exercise will demonstrate how the Battle Group and its Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade partners are capable of responding to any contingency in the Suwalki corridor, said the commander in conclusion.
NATO's eFP BG POL is a multinational task force comprised of soldiers from Croatia, Romania, U.K. and U.S. to increase interoperability amongst Allies and provides a strong signal of support towards Poland.