HOHENFELS, Germany — Approximately 5,200 soldiers from 15 nations concluded exercise Allied Spirit 22, led by the Latvian Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, from Jan. 11-Feb. 5.
The German Army’s 1st Armored Division provided the higher headquarters for this most recent installment of the Allied Spirit series exercise, developed to enhance NATO and key partner readiness across specified warfighting functions.
“The Latvian, German and American battalions that formed parts of the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade each had unique strengths, capabilities and weaknesses,” said U.S. Army Maj. Edward Gibbons, a 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade Team Leader embedded within the Latvian brigade. “The brigade commander did a great job of connecting battalion commanders to understand and better leverage the unique capabilities of the battalions while developing operational plans.”
Participating nations included Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"The preparations for this exercise took more than a year," said German Brig. Gen. Heico Hübner, commander of the 1st Panzer Division. "The possibility that Allied Spirit offers us — to plan with the commanders of the brigades and battalions in this multinational configuration, to give orders, to see how we tactically work together — is unique. This is a huge enrichment for the management process at the multinational level.”
U.S. units participating included the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas; 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment stationed in Ansbach, Germany; and the 2nd Squadron, 227th General Support Aviation Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas.
“We have grown into a task force here during the exercise. Dutch and Latvian engineers and Polish battle tanks support us directly. American battle tanks, German reconnaissance aircraft and Latvian specialists are in our battle sector,” said German Cpt. Sebastian Lauerbach, rear post commander of Panzergrenadier battalion 401. “The multinational aspect is visible just by looking at the individual soldiers.”
As the U.S. Army’s only overseas Combat Training Center, JMRC is uniquely positioned to host an exercise like Allied Spirit; the training center hosts several large exercises each year bringing together allies and partners to strengthen and test interoperability between NATO Allies and partners.
“Every rotation we have has ally and partner inclusion, but this is the biggest by far,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jason Turner, JMRC’s chief of plans. “We have four brigades’ worth of combat power here all from different nations with another 5,000 soldiers in the training area, in the mud training together. All different nations, all coming together to fight one fight together.”
Unlike the two other main exercise series at JMRC where U.S. brigade combat teams are the core of the training audience, Allied Spirit provides an allied brigade as the primary training audience augmented with U.S., allied and partner units. Poland provided the lead brigade in Allied Spirit 21.
Exercises like Allied Spirit enhance the exchange of ideas, techniques, tactics, and procedures across militaries.
“The exercise is designed to bring multinational units together,” said German Army Lt. Col. Christian Wagner, exchange officer and exercise planner to JMRC. “We can learn and experience the difficulties of different nations working together. Having different procedures in every army, you have to synchronize and compare procedures to select which is best for the task at hand.”
The Joint Multinational Readiness Center provides a mobile training capability to Europe that trains leaders, staffs, and units up to Brigade Combat Teams and multinational partners, to dominate in the conduct of Unified Land Operations anywhere in the world,
“Within about a seven-day window, the nations will have to use existing tools of interoperability to establish their systems and operations together and improve upon the human, procedural, and technical domains of interoperability,” Turner said. “Improving how they fight so that ultimately they can win.”
For more information, photos and videos from the exercise visit the Allied Spirit DVIDS page.