Tennessee Guard Soldiers participate in Thracian Warrior 24 in Bulgaria

By Sgt. 1st Class Timothy CordeiroJune 5, 2024

Tennessee National Guard completes Thracian Warrior 24 exercise in Bulgaria
Members of the Tennessee National Guard's 1-181st Field Artillery Regiment, headquartered in Chattanooga, plan for a fire mission, June 3, while at Koren Training Ground, in Bulgaria. The Tennessee National Guard is here in Bulgaria participating at Thracian Warrior 24, a multi-national, combat arms exercise showcasing capabilities of participating countries' armed forces. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by gt. 1st Class Timothy Cordeiro) VIEW ORIGINAL

HASKOVO, Bulgaria — Members of the Tennessee National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment, headquartered in Chattanooga, participated in exercise Thracian Warrior 24, which took place at Novo Selo and Koren training areas of Bulgaria, from May 28 - June 4, 2024.

The exercise, hosted and organized by the Bulgarian Land Forces, featured units from Italy, Albania, Greece, North Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro, in addition to Bulgaria and the Tennessee National Guard. More than 2,000 service members and 700 pieces of equipment were featured, including two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, from the 1-181st.

Thracian Warrior 24 is the largest exercise of the year for the Bulgarian Armed Forces, and showcased aerial evacuations, formations, combat firing with mechanized tanks and more. The final day of the exercise concluded with a large-scale, combined arms demonstration featuring air support, small arms fire, mechanized tank assaults, and long-range artillery, to include Tennessee National Guard’s HIMARS crews.

“Getting the chance to come out here and train laterally with their staff was truly an amazing experience,” said Capt. Drew Gentry, commander of A Battery, 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment. “We were able to integrate and learn from each other on all levels, and all missions and intent were accomplished, resulting in flawless success for all parties involved.”

This exercise is one of many completed by both Bulgaria and the Tennessee National Guard, and coordinated through U.S. Army Europe and Africa, as these military forces have been partners for over 30 years with the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. In this program, allied nations’ armed forces are paired with a state’s National Guard that shares similar size and demographics to build relationships and learn from each other’s military capabilities.

The Tennessee National Guard and Bulgaria were paired together more than 30 years ago and were one of the first partnerships unveiled by the National Guard. Now, after hundreds of exercises and engagements, the relationship is stronger than ever. Thracian Warrior 24 was another example of the strength of a partnership like the one that has been built over the past three decades between Tennessee and Bulgaria.

“Our relationship with Bulgaria is invaluable to our success as an organization,” said Maj. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s adjutant general. “We learn so much from them, and continuing to be able to come out here and participate in these exercises alongside our partners is going to continue to improve our overall readiness and our capabilities.”

The 1-181st has been busy as of late, in addition to this exercise in Bulgaria, they returned from a deployment to the Middle East in 2022 and also completed a training mission in Japan in 2023. Next year they will be traveling to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, as a full battalion to complete their Table XII certification.

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