When Romania leads a multi-national division in wet gap crossings in the Black Sea region next month, 1st Lt. Joseph Williams will be tracking every move of the linked Saber Guardian 23 exercise, part of DEFENDER 2023.
As the executive officer for 50th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 5th Engineer Battalion out of Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, Williams oversees the 50th Multi-Role Bridge Tactical Operation Center throughout the duration of Saber Guardian 2023.
According to Williams, large scale global exercises like Saber Guardian 23 ensure the 50th MRBC is ready to deploy world-wide and execute engineer missions in support of Unified Land Operations.
An expert in engineering and the more than $94 million in heavy trucks, boats, float bridge bays, and other equipment his Company uses to cross water obstacles that prevent traditional ground maneuvers, Williams provides critical advice to maneuver commanders. Wet gap crossings are a complex and major operation in contested environments.
Hailing from Killeen, Texas, Williams’ U.S. Army career has made him a world-traveler.
“This is my second Defender Europe,” said Williams. “Last year, I was a part of the 5th Engineer Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company where we oversaw 74th Multi-Role Bridge Company conducting wet gap crossing operations throughout Poland. We had the opportunity to bridge with the Polish, Swedish, and French militaries, and it was eye opening. Everyone learned different tactics from one another, and we walked away with our heads held high knowing that our partner countries are skilled and well versed in gap crossing operations.”
Williams is looking forward to learning from and training with the Romanian-led multinational division during wet gap crossings in Frecatei and Bordusani, Romania for Saber Guardian 23.
“I am a firm believer that everybody can learn something from anyone,” said Williams. “The battlefield changes every day, and it is important to keep up with the times. Our Allies and Partners are very competent when it comes to these complex operations, and it is important we synchronize our tactics when it comes to joint operations. We look forward to exercising this equipment and showing the world what 50th MRBC and joint NATO forces can do.”
Williams recently helped tell that story by briefing Romanian, British and German reporters at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base. Media were covering the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s issue of Army Prepositioned Stock equipment to 50th MRBC.
Although not usually part of his regular duties, Williams appreciated the opportunity to put his mass communications degree to work.
DEFENDER 23 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa led exercise focused on the strategic deployment of continental United States-based forces, employment of Army Prepositioned Stocks, and interoperability with Allies and partners. Taking place from 22 April to 23 June, DEFENDER 23 demonstrates USAREUR-AF’s ability to aggregate U.S.-based combat power quickly in Eastern Europe, increase lethality of the NATO Alliance through long-distance fires, build unit readiness in a complex joint, multi-national environment, and leverage host nation capabilities to increase USAREUR-AF’s operational reach. DEFENDER 23 includes more than 7,000 U.S. and 17,000 multi-national service members from more than 20 nations who will participate including, but not limited to: Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.