HOHENFELS, Germany - More than 5,000 Service members from 17 nations have convened here for a semi annual multinational exercise. In a joint effort including North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and partners, U.S. Soldiers with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, (ABCT) 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Hood, Texas, are participating in Combined Resolve XIII which runs through February 5 on expansive ranges across the Hohenfels training area.
Combined Resolve XIII is a headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) Multinational Unified Land Operation event that exercises the U.S. Regionally Aligned Force (RAF) Brigade in support of European Commands (EUCOM) objectives.
This exercise allows U.S. Forces to demonstrate their ability to fight and win against an equally capable force along with allies and partners in the European theater.
Short of war, this is one of the most dynamic, situational training exercises that these Soldiers will undertake.
"We're trying to fight as a combined force between not just one or two nations, but 17 fighting together with different tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP's), planning methods, and different ideas on how to fight and we have to merge that into one cohesive force," said 2ABCT battle captain, Capt. Joe Frechette.
The goal of the exercise is to assess and increase the military readiness and lethality of all the joint participants. Combining forces on such an enormous scale showcases our interoperability, and promotes regional stability, thereby enhancing relationships between the allied and partnered militaries.
Prior to descending upon the Hohenfels training area, Soldiers with the 2ABCT conducted training that culminated in live fire exercises January 14-16 at Grafenwoehr, Germany.
They will now put all of their collective training into force on force activity as the Soldiers, allies and partners will work together to defeat the opposing force (OPFOR) beginning January 24.
Any successful mission starts with clear, timely communication. Combined Resolve XIII integrates Soldiers from 17 nations into one unified fighting force. Despite the language barriers, not everything gets lost in translation.
"I think its just experience. It's just understanding that other person and working through it together as a team," said Sgt. Maj. Johnathan Dickey, 2ABCT operations sergeant major. "This is a unique opportunity to give Soldiers an experience as to how they're going to integrate with NATO forces, so that we can bring those lessons learned if we actually have to fight in a conflict."
Winning or losing can be ascertained by degrees. Ultimately, each side will take away aspects of this exercise that they can build upon moving forward.
"Success for us is if we get to a point in the box where we're not just controlling the immediate fight, or reacting to things that are happening, but we're seeing what is happening now and we're putting in the analysis that's necessary and coordinating so that we're ready for the next two, three steps that are coming forward," said Frechette. "We need to set conditions ahead of time. The motto of the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) has become 'better everyday' as long as everybody in every section has done one thing better today than they did the previous day, then by the end of the exercise, we'll have a TOC that's functioning very efficiently."
Despite paying the price that the elements, endless hours and the temporary family separations exact, the Soldiers never stop to count the cost. Endless refinement of skill across the military is a common understanding.
"The better you do, the harder it gets," said Dickey.
Soldiers from all 17 nations have been and continue to work toward achieving seamless interoperability together on the battlefield. Countless hours of training, endless logistics and their collective fighting spirit make for a very formidable force that continues to protect the freedoms and independence of all within the European theater.