American and Greek military friendship marches forward
VOLOS, Greece --1st Air Cavalry Brigade (1ACB) command team embraces military partnership with Hellenic Army during area visit on Dec. 27, 2021.
Seated squarely in the heart of the port city of Volos, Greece along the plains below the foothills of Mount Pelion, Camp Georgoulas is home to the 32nd Marine Brigade of the Hellenic Military and, for the past few years, the stanchion of U.S. and Greek bilateral military cooperation. Unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, the Hellenic 32nd Marine Brigade falls under the Hellenic Army.
Col. Reggie Harper and Command Sgt. Maj. Tyrone Murphy visited Camp Georgoulas on Dec. 27 to engage with their Hellenic Military counterparts and meet with Air Cav Troopers currently assigned there.
Upon arrival to the camp headquarters, Col. George Gavounos, deputy commander of the 32nd Marine Brigade, greeted Harper and Murphy and provided a brief history of the brigade by Cpl. Taxiarxis Chrysikos just inside the entrance, where the unit had constructed a small gallery of notable brigade historical artifacts.
After a tour of the headquarters, Gavounos, Harper and Murphy exchanged bilateral talks regarding training cooperation and the logistical support for American Soldiers. Removing barriers and building partnerships is mutually beneficial and increases strategic military capability for both units and the future cooperation between armies.
“We are flexible, we are capable and we can operate in a complex environment for bilateral training cooperation,” said Lt. Col. Vlasios Makris, chief of logistics for the 32nd Marine Brigade as he presented a 32nd Marine capability brief to the “Air Cav” command team. “We’ve made categorical improvements over the last four years to the facilities to make everyone’s lives better, certainly better than the first deployment here."
The recently renewed Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and Greece and the ongoing European Defense Initiative mission has resulted the preparation of multiple sites across Greece for multinational training. For the past few years, U.S. Army aviation regionally allocated force units have been able to train and live alongside Hellenic military partners at Camp Georgoulas, Stefanovikeio Air Base and Litochoro Range located at the foot of Mount Olympus.
“We realize that one of the main reasons we are here is the tactical cooperation,” said Harper when speaking with Gavounos. “We can make each other better at the tactical level, but ultimately it's about being good allies and partners.”
“I'm happy to have our unit here. We are all interested in this as an enduring partnership that lasts. So, we want to make sure that we're doing the right things as guests.”
The moderate climate and varied terrain make Greece an ideal training location for maximum flight hours during deployment and increase flying experience near mountains and coastal waters.
Leaders also toured Stefanovikeio Air Base where 1ACB shares hangars and an airfield with the Greek 1st Army Aviation Brigade.
“The airfield here is very good for us,” said Harper when speaking with Col. Nikos Biniatidis, executive officer of the Greek aviation brigade. “Down here the weather is good enough to fly almost every day.”
Biniatidis described the partnership by saying, “we are one big family. If you need anything, you only need to ask.” 1ACB leaders echoed his sentiment.
“It’s beautiful here in Greece, with great training areas to fly in and friendly cooperation to deconflict airspace with the Hellenic forces,” said Lt. Col. Matt Minear, commander of the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and leader of the aviation task force from 1ACB assigned to Greece. “It's been an exceptionally good partnership so far.”
Minear has invited the local Hellenic military partners to participate in an upcoming “Spur Ride,” a challenge where American Cavalry Troopers earn the right to wear the coveted cavalry spurs. Sharing friendship and culture enhances trust in one another and builds an unbreakable bond between countries. It was clear throughout the visit that partnership and cooperation is at a peak, but not yet at the summit.
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has led the Department of Defense’s Atlantic Resolve land efforts by rotating units based in the U.S. to Europe. There are four types of U.S. Army Atlantic Resolve rotations – armored, aviation, sustainment task force and division headquarters. Rotational units conduct bilateral, joint and multinational training events across more than a dozen countries. Atlantic Resolve is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, which enables the U.S. to enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support NATO.
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