BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland — U.S. Army Soldiers from Task Force Marne and fellow allied troops from NATO's enhanced Forward Presence Battle Groups in Poland and Latvia continued to develop field artillery interoperability during Exercise Wawel Dragon at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Nov. 7.
Wawel Dragon — a unified artillery exercise between the U.S., Canada, Poland, Croatia, Romania and Spain — demonstrated the artillery command and fire capabilities of the allied NATO nations on the battlefield. The exercise also allowed the allied countries to familiarize themselves with each other’s artillery systems.
U.S. Army Capt. Martha Lane Kinnett, commander of Alpha “Ares” Battery, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, supporting 3rd Infantry Division, said the exercise helped promote interoperability between the NATO Battle Groups.
“It’s really working with our allied partners and making sure that we can be combat-effective, working together in between the NATO Battle Groups,” Kinnett said. “The purpose of the NATO Battle Groups is interoperability amongst our allies.”
Setup side-by-side, American M109A7 Paladin howitzers, Croatian Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers and Canadian M777 howitzers fired hundreds of artillery shells down range throughout the exercise.
NATO allies used the exercise as an opportunity to use real-world tactics and coordinate fire support incorporating American and Canadian fire support specialists and forward observers into the fire missions. The observers acquired targets, synchronized artillery fire, and reported the status of the objectives down range for the mission.
The exercise required large-scale logistical coordination amongst the two NATO Battle Groups, according to Kinnett and churned out many positives for the allied countries.
“The positive thing about Exercise Wawel Dragon is working with all of our Allied partners,” Kinnett said. “It’s always cool to work with the personnel of other nations. We’ve gotten pretty close with the Iron Boars — the Croatian counterparts — I’m excited to work with the Canadians for the first time from Battle Group Latvia.”
Kinnett added that the exercise allowed allied troops to run technical rehearsals prior to the live-fire, in order to become more proficient at their roles.
“We’re doing a live-fire exercise, and we’re learning more about the systems that the Croatians and the Canadians use,” Sgt. Kevin Blystone, a paladin gunner with Alpha “Ares” Battery, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, said. “We’re doing a kind of back-and-forth shooting together. It’s a lot of fun.”
Blystone added that the exercise helped to bolster relationships amongst the NATO troops and nations in Europe.
“This exercise and training allows us to get some interoperability with the other units, which we don’t get to do a lot, especially in the stateside,” Blystone said. “It’s very nice to come out here and work with other nations and do what we were meant to do.”
Kinnett shared a similar sentiment.
“The end state for this exercise is interoperability, to prove that we can actually mass fires together,” Kinnett said. “We’re really looking to do some battery-plus fire missions with all of the guns we have out here. We’re trying to do singular fire missions incorporating all of the nations, so that we can get rounds impacting down range at the same time to really show that we can communicate our guns on point for this exercise.”
The 3rd Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe.