GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Dynamic Front 21 came to close Sept. 20, as the last of the Soldiers from the Illinois Army National Guard began packing their gear and getting ready for the trip back to the U.S. from the Polatli Training Area in Turkey, that served as their home for a month.
"I am extremely proud of the Soldiers in our battalion for everything they accomplished throughout this exercise, and all the hard work that went into the preparation for it," said Lt. Col. Justin Kramer, battalion commander, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois National Guard. "We accomplished the goals of this exercise and met our training objectives. This primarily included interoperability and communication between fire support platforms with our allies. The phenomenal cooperation enacted by our allies enabled sharing of information and best practices throughout the exercise. It was an honor to be the first National Guard unit hosted by Turkey for a NATO exercise and their hospitality went above and beyond."
The Soldiers were part of the second phase of Dynamic Front 21, which was added this year to allow the exercise to expand for the first time into Turkey. The move to add a training location in Turkey was doubly significant as Dynamic Front 21 brought the NATO Allied Land Command’s commander to serve as the exercise’s senior trainer.
“This exercise is critical to building the readiness and interoperability amongst NATO allied and partner land forces, and executing a second iteration allows us to expand our scope of training,” said Lt. Gen. Rodger L. Cloutier, commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command in a press release about the exercise. “I’m excited to have these forces shooting, moving, and communicating together in Turkey, the host nation of NATO Allied Land Command, for the first time in Dynamic Front history.”
Dynamic Front first began as a small artillery-fires exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, in 2016. The next year saw the exercise expand dramatically with participation from nine allied nations and focus a portion of the training on the integration of the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities – a series of protocols that digitally link the artillery systems of ASCA-member nations for seamless execution of fires missions.
In the six years and five iterations since its start, Dynamic Front 20 having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the exercise has grown to see more than 30 nations participate in locations that now span five locations in four countries across Europe – Grafenwoehr Training Area and Weisbaden, Germany; Torun Training Area, Poland; Adazi Training Area, Poland, and Polatli Training Area, Turkey.
“Dynamic Front has progressed every single year,” said Col. Peter Sittenauer, exercise director for Dynamic Front 21 and chief of fires for U.S. Army Europe and Africa. “As we continue to work on interoperability, we learn more and we have a firmer idea of where we want to get the next round.”
This year’s Dynamic Front focused on U.S., allied and partner nations training together to build capacity along the three tenets of interoperability – human, procedural, and technical– while developing solutions to gaps and limitations in the theater fires complex, multi-echelon fires, and improving interoperability at the tactical level.
“Every time we do this, it reassures us - going back to our exercise objectives - how important Dynamic Front is,” Sittenauer said. “There is no other exercise we do within U.S. Army Europe and Africa, amongst the alliance, that is so focused on ensuring that we are continuing to develop a theater-wide enterprise amongst the alliance. As we do this Dynamic Front, we are identifying things we need to do next year and we create more challenging exercises to make us more ready, more resilient, and more interoperable.”
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