Rhodope 23 strengthens partnership amongst NATO allies

By Sgt. Jaidon NovinskaSeptember 20, 2023

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) conduct the via ferrata station, which involves traversing across a slope with the help of cables and rungs, during a mountain movement technique training course involving high-angle terrain in the Rhodope Mountains on Sep. 18, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria, during Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23.
Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) conduct the via ferrata station, which involves traversing across a slope with the help of cables and rungs, during a mountain movement technique training course involving high-angle terrain in the Rhodope Mountains on Sep. 18, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria, during Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jaidon Novinska) VIEW ORIGINAL

SMOLYAN, Bulgaria — Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division participated in Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23, from Sept. 11 to Sept. 21, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria.

The exercise, hosted by the Bulgarian Land Forces 101st Alpine Regiment, included U.S. Army Soldiers as well as Soldiers from the Italian Army and the Army of the Czech Republic.

During the two-week training exercise, Soldiers focused on basic mountaineering skills and field craft for high elevation training, completed a live-fire range, enjoyed a cultural day and finished with a two-day field training exercise.

Sgt. Jordan Steinbach, one of the U.S. Soldiers who participated in the attack lane training event, spoke about the importance of working alongside NATO allies and partners.

“It’s important that we train with our Bulgarian counterparts, especially on a task like this,” Steinbach said. “It’s critical to the infantry mission.”

Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, execute a ruck march during the Rhodope 23 mountain living techniques training event on Sep. 13, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria. The mountain living techniques event consisted of a 7-mile ruck march over 3,000 feet of elevation and rough terrain within the Rhodope Mountains, followed by a class on mountain field craft and survival. This exercise demonstrates 10th Mountain Division’s ability to deploy, fight and win in austere Alpine environments.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, execute a ruck march during the Rhodope 23 mountain living techniques training event on Sep. 13, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria. The mountain living techniques event consisted of a 7-mile ruck march over 3,000 feet of elevation and rough terrain within the Rhodope Mountains, followed by a class on mountain field craft and survival. This exercise demonstrates 10th Mountain Division’s ability to deploy, fight and win in austere Alpine environments. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jaidon Novinska) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Stephen Bono, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division fires an AK-47 rifle during a live-fire event on Sep. 15, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria during Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Stephen Bono, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division fires an AK-47 rifle during a live-fire event on Sep. 15, 2023, near Smolyan, Bulgaria during Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jaidon Novinska) VIEW ORIGINAL

The 10th Mountain Division’s continuous training and involvement in exercises such as Combined Training Exercise Rhodope 23 allows the division to rapidly deploy combat-ready forces across the globe to support the NATO alliance and project forces.

After the two-day FTX, Bulgarian Land Forces Lt. Col. Stefan Dimov, the commander of the 101st Alpine Regiment, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise and the participants’ performance.

“Overall the exercise went very well,” Dimov said. “I think the soldiers showed their capabilities with climbing skills, shooting and everything else we did during this exercise.”

Capt. Maxwell Burbidge, the officer in charge of the U.S. Soldiers participating in the exercise, spoke about the expertise and knowledge of the 101st Alpine Regiment.

“It’s important for us to build as much partner capacity as possible, and we also want to learn from the expertise of the 101st Alpine Regiment,” Burbidge said. "We want to take that expertise, knowledge, and skillset with us back to Fort Drum.”