XANTHI, Greece – Soldiers from the Alabama National Guard 1-167th Infantry Battalion conducted annual training with the Hellenic Army as part of the DEFENDER-Europe 21 Immediate Response Exercise May 13-26.
The United States and 25 other nations are participating in DEFENDER-Europe 21, with 28,000 multinational forces. The Immediate Response portion consists of more than 5,000 troops across 31 training areas in 12 countries.
“This exercise is a small part of DEFENDER-Europe 21. Specifically, we are involved with Centaur-21 with the Hellenic Army in Greece,” said Lt. Col. John Craft, commander of the 1-167th Infantry Battalion. “The overall goal of this exercise is to demonstrate strategic readiness and capability of projecting readiness here in the European theater.”
The Soldiers of the 1-167th Infantry Battalion and the Hellenic Army conducted mounted and dismounted ambush exercises, mortar live-fire exercises, and force-on-force training to improve techniques and readiness.
“For most of the Soldiers, this is the first time they’ve gone out of the country with this unit, so this is the first time they’ve seen how we actually operate in a tactical situation,” said Sgt. Luke Sukow, truck commander from Delta Company, 1-167th Infantry Battalion. “With us coming to Greece, it takes Soldiers out of their comfort zone and helps them pay more attention to the actual training rather than going through the motions.”
DEFENDER-Europe 21 gave Soldiers a glimpse of the Alabama National Guard’s potential and capabilities.
“I was able to work with a Greek medic on the mortar range,” said Pvt. Jacob Evans, combat medic, HHC 1-167th Infantry Battalion. “I got to teach him about our combat casualty care and about how combat procedures work on the medical aspect, and in turn, he taught me how their medical procedures work.”
Soldiers of the Alabama National worked with soldiers of the Hellenic Army with the same job descriptions.
“I had the opportunity of working alongside the Hellenic Army when we conducted a logistic support area exercise where we had to defend a position,” said Cpt. Jeremy McGhee, commander of India Company, 1-167th Infantry Battalion. “We got an opportunity to see their tactics, techniques and procedures on how they operate. They were very professional soldiers that we have enjoyed working with.”
Greece is a vital NATO ally in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. Consistently engaging with the Hellenic Army enables the Alabama National Guard to strengthen the relationship and improve security and stability in the region.