Georgia Army Guard Joins DEFENDER 24 Exercise in Sweden

By Sgt. Allison Gilstrap, 124th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentMay 8, 2024

Soldiers assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 214th Artillery Regiment, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard set up an antenna group during exercise DEFENDER 24 in Skillingaryd, Sweden, May 6, 2024. DEFENDER 24 is linked to NATO's Steadfast Defender exercise, and the Department of Defense's Large Scale Global Exercise March 28 to May 31. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Christophe Chin)
Soldiers assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 214th Artillery Regiment, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard set up an antenna group during exercise DEFENDER 24 in Skillingaryd, Sweden, May 6, 2024. DEFENDER 24 is linked to NATO's Steadfast Defender exercise, and the Department of Defense's Large Scale Global Exercise March 28 to May 31. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Christophe Chin) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Christophe Chin) VIEW ORIGINAL

SKILLINGARYD, Sweden - This year’s DEFENDER 24 exercise emphasizes the significant partnership between the United States and Sweden, NATO’s newest member, with the Georgia Army National Guard putting boots on the ground in Skillingaryd. The exercise highlights the importance of interoperability and shared defense capabilities.

The U.S. units participating in the exercise include Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Batteries, along with 1214th Forward Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, from 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. The units attached to the 214th for this exercise are the 420th Signal Company and the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), U.S. Marine Corps. These units are participating in essential exercises, such as live-fire coordination, combined arms fire, artillery portions and other mission-essential tasks.

During DEFENDER 24, the 214th stands out for delivering crucial firepower support.

“The 1st of the 214th Field Artillery Battalion is part of our combat operations and effective mobilization across the globe,” observed Maj. Samuel Wolfson, the battalion operations officer for the 214th. “Being able to use our combat arms units and integrate them seamlessly with our NATO counterparts contributes to overall strategic defense and achieving those objectives.”

The battalion’s expertise and coordination are instrumental in shaping the battlefield and achieving mission objectives. As a key component of NATO’s collective defense strategy, the 214th’s role in DEFENDER 24 exemplifies the alliance’s commitment to interoperability and unified military efforts, safeguarding regional stability and security.

NATO’s involvement in DEFENDER 24 also reinforces its commitment to regional defense and safety.

In the context of DEFENDER 24 and the collaborative efforts between the U.S. Army and Sweden, the role of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) emerges as pivotal. The alliance, which encompasses 12.16 percent of the world’s population, has 32 member states — 30 in Europe and two in North America. During DEFENDER 24, the presence of NATO forces underscores the alliance’s commitment to regional security and stability.

“Anytime that we can increase the interoperability of our forces is extremely beneficial to both countries, and any other countries that are involved in the exercise are essential,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Pirtle, the command sergeant major of the 214th. “Being able to ensure how we understand each other and how we operate individually is extremely important to the overall NATO mission.”

Jonas Frohlund, chief of operations for the Göta Engineer Regiment, Eskjö, Sweden, echoed these sentiments.

“The Americans have been easy to work with, and it is not the first time we have worked together,“ Frohlund said. “During operations in the last decade, we have understood each other quite well, so it is nothing new for us to welcome them to our country.”

As the exercise concludes this month, the strong partnership between the Georgia Army National Guard and Sweden demonstrates the enduring strength of transatlantic alliances. In today’s complex security environment, such collaborations are essential for maintaining readiness and resilience.

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