BULBOACA TRAINING CENTER, Moldova -- U.S., Moldova, and Romania forces came together for a first-of-its-kind exercise in the Republic of Moldova, Sept. 10-22, 2023.
U.S. soldiers with the 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade, and the North Carolina National Guard participated in Exercise Rapid Trident 23.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us to hone our skills," said U.S. Army Capt. Vinny Bartram, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment commander. "Working with our Moldovan and Romanian partners is a great opportunity. I think it'll be a great chance to focus on some basics and how we can work better together."
Moldovan Armed Forces Maj. Vitalie Creciun, the 21st Infantry Battalion commander, echoed the sentiment. He said it was important to train together to enhance American and Moldovan collaboration for a situation such as a crisis, a mission, or a peacekeeping operation.
Exercise Rapid Trident 23, conducted simultaneously with Exercise Fire Shield, was designed to enhance the U.S. and Republic of Moldova partnership by increasing interoperability and readiness through training in peacekeeping and stability operations.
Rapid Trident 23 began with a strong emphasis on building a solid foundation. During the first few days of the exercise, the soldiers completed interoperability training and infantry academics with U.S. forces-led classroom instruction, followed by practical exercises. Key components included troop leading procedures, defensive small unit tasks, and land navigation. Tactical Combat Casualty Care was another crucial aspect, ensuring that soldiers could provide immediate medical aid to wounded comrades. Reacting to combat situations was also drilled, preparing them to respond effectively under pressure.
A five-person linguist team assigned to Task Force 10th Mountain and Area Support Group - Black Sea in Romania provided real-time translation throughout the exercise, facilitating smooth communication among the multinational troops.
Following the comprehensive academic sessions, the troops transitioned to the rehearsal phase. They took the theoretical knowledge gained and put it into practice through realistic simulations. These rehearsals were pivotal in preparing the soldiers for the upcoming field training exercise.
The four-day field training was conducted outside of the military training area, which made the exercise unique.
"This training was different because we used our national territory," said Creciun. "We didn't know the terrain; we did it like in a real situation, which was a big challenge for us."
This immersive experience allowed soldiers to put their skills to the test in a realistic and challenging environment. They practiced tactics, techniques, and procedures they had learned during the earlier stages of the exercise. The exercise aimed to mimic real-world combat scenarios, allowing soldiers to hone their decision-making abilities and teamwork under pressure. The soldiers spent the nights out in the field, conducted convoys, conducted route clearances, and reacted to enemy contact.
"We conducted route clearance into a vehicle dismount, secured the area, and moved from there towards an operation rally point," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bunch, an infantryman with 2-327 IN BN. He explained how the unit and Moldova counterparts used Unmanned Aerial Systems for reconnaissance, reacted to enemy fire, and successfully secured an area.
The culminating event was the Distinguished Visitors Day. Among the attendees were the U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Kent D. Logsdon, Romania Ambassador to Moldova, Ţurcanu Cristian Leon, Moldovan Minister of Defense, Anatolie Nosatîi, NCNG Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, 1BCT, 101 ABN DIV Commander, Col. Trevor Voelkel, multinational bilateral affairs officers, and other dignitaries.
The troops performed a live demonstration that integrated everything they had learned throughout the exercise to meet the purpose.
"The purpose of this exercise is to integrate the infantry with the artillery world and forward observants," said Bartram. "Tying those three together and how they can make us more effective."
As the infantry battalion demonstrated their ability to call for artillery fire, U.S., Romanian, and Moldovan artillery troops participating in exercise Fire Shield responded in real-time. Fire Shield is an annual exercise between the North Carolina National Guard and Moldova that focuses on developing artillery and fire support capabilities.
"In this training was involved artillery and infantry, the main goal was to how to maneuver infantry and the use of artillery to call for fire," said Creciun. "I think it was a very important goal for us."
Distinguished visitors had the unique opportunity to observe these activities on three screens while seated in a classroom, providing a bird's-eye view of the action.
The live demonstration highlighted the soldiers' proficiency. It demonstrated the close partnership between the U.S. Army, the North Carolina National Guard, the 4th SFAB, and the multinational forces. It showcased the synergy of joint training exercises, reinforcing that no military operates in isolation and that international collaboration is paramount in today's global security landscape.
As Rapid Trident 23 ended, a final formation marked the end of the exercise, where all participants received certificates. This symbolic gesture acknowledged the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the soldiers who devoted themselves to improving their skills and fostering international relations.
Rapid Trident 23 was not merely a military exercise, but a testament to the enduring bonds between nations and the soldiers' dedication.
"We got a lot of partners here that we worked with in the past," said Bartram. "Increasing overall security and interoperability in this region is something we want to strive for."