HOHENFELS, Germany- As the last of the tanks and military vehicles streamed into the quiet town of Kittensee, a trove of heavily armed soldiers quickly set up defensive positions on rooftops, homes and roads triggering the beginning of a forceful occupation. This was the simulated scenario that took place at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

The Azerbaijan Peace Keeping Company, a NATO partner, and U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment partnered up as opposing forces (OPFOR) for the occupation of the fictional town of Kittensee during Saber Junction 19, from Sept. 3 to 30, 2019. This is the first time Azerbaijan soldiers participated as OPFOR.

Their task as OPFOR is to invade and occupy simulated towns to defend against U.S. Soldiers of the 173rd Infantry Airborne Brigade and multinational partners testing the unit's readiness in executing land operations in a joint, combined environment.

"We are learning from each other in these exercises especially when it comes to conducting urban defensive operations and overall enhancing communication," said Azerbaijan 1st Lt. Samir Yusubob, the company commander of the Peace Keeping Company. "I see massive improvements from my soldiers."

Simulated scenarios like this provide an ideal training opportunity for multinational allies and partners like the Azerbaijan Army, and for U.S. Soldiers alike. The joint training allows all involved to exercise and fine-tune their full combat capabilities and communication short of real combat.

"We had to overcome a language barrier by using lots of hand and arm signals which helped the missions become an overall success," said U.S. Army Capt. Kyle Chase, company commander of 1-4th Infantry and OPFOR. "We all learned a lot from each other."

Unilateral cooperation in a joint environment like the ones played out in Kittensee is meant to build more capable forces and establish military cohesion between U.S. and NATO allies and partners.