BUCHAREST, Romania/CAPUA, Italy - Approximately two dozen Army Reserve liaison Soldiers of the 209th and 2500th Digital Liaison Detachments, 7th Mission Support Command, recently deployed to Italy and Romania to provide allied partner interoperability support of the U.S. Army´s V Corps and Joint Force Land Component Command during a command post evaluation at the close of exercise DEFENDER-Europe 21 from June 10-15, 2021.
The 7th Mission Support Command is the only U.S. Army Reserve command stationed in Europe. The 209th and 2500th DLDs provide liaison capability between U.S. Army Forces and multinational operational headquarters to ensure interoperability among partnered ground forces in Europe.
That liaison capability comes in the form of both U.S. Soldier and digital communication equipment.
“We serve as a conduit between a host nation partner and the U.S. Army,” said Maj. Allen Rust, air and missile defense chief for the 209th DLD and Defender-Europe 21 exercise planner. “If a host nation needs to communicate with the U.S. Army and they don’t have the means to do it, whether it be digital or even just human capabilities to make a phone call, we’re there to go inside the middle of their joint operations center, integrate with their unit, and connect them to the U.S. Army.”
In Romania, the 209th DLD split into two sections with 11 Soldiers moving to Bucharest to work with the Romanian-led Multi-National Corps-Southeast, while an additional ten Soldiers went to Slobozia under the Multi-National Division-Southeast.
“It’s important to be a part of a U.S. exercise with a NATO unit so young Soldiers can actually understand how we come together, why we’re here in Europe and why we fight the way we fight and the complexities and go with it,” said Rust. “The experience to go travel to another country and understand their way of doing things, their military – the NATO way – it broadens the younger troops that come into the unit to understand why we do what we do.”
Parallel to the 209th DLD’s efforts in Romania, the 2500th DLD was building connections with the Italian Army´s Divisione Acqui in support of V Corps and the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise on Caserma Oreste Salomone at Capua, just north of Naples near the amphitheater made famous by the historical gladiator Spartacus.
Eighteen Soldiers from the 2500th DLD, including a four-Soldier signal support team from Alpha Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, shrugged off the searing southern Italian sun in temperatures exceeding 90°F to set up operations, tents and satellite dishes at the perimeter of the Division Acqui´s tactical operations enclosure.
“The Acqui Division has done a splendid job of being able to talk to us,” said Army Staff Sgt. Tyson Hall, an intelligence noncommissioned officer with the 2500th DLD.
Hall said that potential language issues were easily overcome by the unit, because many of its Reserve Soldiers actually live in Italy near its location in Longare and speak fluent Italian. He also said that the senior Italian Army cadre he met were comfortably fluent in English and working with US Forces.
Maj. Cody Smith, a plans officer with the 2500th, said the deployment gave his unit a great deal of experience as both a team working together and as an integral part of multi-national theater level operations.
“We talk to our Acqui Division partner, we talk to U.S. Army Europe, we talk all the way down to our unit level and we´re meeting the intent and purpose of each one of the commanders at all levels,” said Smith.
Smith said that the learning curve for him personally and the unit was steep, but with flexibility and a good use of after action reviews, he looked forward to exploiting future opportunities to improving the unit´s efficacy as an integral part of the U.S. Army´s plan to meet interoperability requirements in Europe.