US Army Assures European Allies With Tanks, Bradleys and Relationships

1-nato

By: Michelle Tan, Defense News.

From massing an entire armored brigade combat team in Poland to a lone major serving in Greece, the U.S. Army is continuing its push to build partnerships across Europe.

“Why would we go alone with anything? It’s important that we are strong members of the [NATO] alliance,” said Col. Jason Riley, commander of the U.S. Army NATO Brigade.

Col. Phil Brooks, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, which just completed a year as the regionally-allocated force to Europe, agreed.

“As the regionally-allocated force, we had the opportunity to train daily with multiple countries from the Baltics to the Black Sea, and that’s important because that’s the way ahead,” he said. “This is the strongest alliance, and we have to be able to fight together every day.”

The work Riley, Brooks and their soldiers have been doing across the European continent is part of U.S. Army Europe’s effort to reassure America’s allies in the face of Russian aggression. This push includes Operation Atlantic Resolve, which deploys American soldiers to train with their NATO partners, and the addition of an armored brigade combat team rotation into Europe beginning next year.

On Wednesday, Riley and Brooks spoke to Army Times about their respective missions during the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.

For full AUSA 2016 coverage:   www.defensenews.com/ausa

Soldiers from 1st BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, just came home from a six-month deployment to Europe, Brooks said. This was the unit’s third rotation into Europe in the past year, with soldiers spending time in Hungary, Poland, Germany and the Baltic States.

“We had companies and teams throughout each and every one of those countries, with additional forces in Germany,” Brooks said. “We were there to assure our allies, and the rapport we’ve built with our allies over there has just been amazing.”

During their time in Europe, company commanders from the brigade got the chance to interact daily with general officers and chiefs of defense, Brooks said.

The soldiers also conducted crew- and platoon-level gunneries on their Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M1 Abrams tanks and Paladins, he said. In a series of firsts, they also fired the Abrams tank for the first time in Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia, Brooks said. They also fired Paladins and Howitzers in Estonia.

“The armored brigade sends a strong message,” he said.

US M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams MBT.

US M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams MBT.

In addition to assuring their allies, the soldiers gained valuable training while in Europe, Brooks said.

“As we’ve transitioned from counter-insurgency to decisive action, these soldiers have gotten repetitions of shooting the tanks, shooting the Bradleys, so the young leaders were building a strong foundation of crew and platoon gunneries,” Brooks said.

One of the brigade’s key events during its regional allocation to Europe was Exercise Anakonda 16, which saw the entire brigade come together in Poland for the live-fire, multinational exercise, Brooks said.

In addition, about 200 soldiers attended the Basic Leader Course, which is a requirement for promotion to sergeant, while they were in Germany.

His soldiers enjoyed their time in Europe, Brooks said.

“Aside from the training benefits, there were also cultural benefits where they got to see some of the cultural experiences in each of those countries,” he said. “It’s been a great opportunity to interact with leaders from other nations, our allies.”

Now that their regional allocation to Europe is complete, soldiers in 1st BCT will continue to build on the training they received in Europe, Brooks said.

“We’ll train through our platoon level tank and Bradley and Paladin certifications … and in the spring we’ll go to the National Training Center to continue with those exercises,” he said.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas is greeted by Lt. Col. Chad Chalfont, commander of 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Walker, the task force's senior enlisted soldier, at Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania. The soldiers were deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which demonstrates the United States' commitment to a strong Europe by training with NATO allies and showcasing the Army's capabilities for support. Photo Credit: Sgt. Uriah Walker/Army

Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas is greeted by Lt. Col. Chad Chalfont, commander of 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Walker, the task force’s senior enlisted soldier, at Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania. The soldiers were deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a strong Europe by training with NATO allies and showcasing the Army’s capabilities for support.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Uriah Walker/Army

While Brooks focused on building readiness for his brigade, Riley and his team worked to build individual readiness for the soldiers serving in NATO billets across the continent.

The U.S. Army NATO Brigade, which isn’t very well known outside U.S. Army Europe, is responsible for the readiness of all Army personnel assigned to NATO organizations. The brigade, which has its headquarters in Sembach, Germany, and its two subordinate battalions provide training, logistics and human resources support to soldiers serving in 28 locations in 18 countries.

“If you’re an Army soldier assigned to a NATO headquarters, we are your Army support element,” Riley said.

The noncommissioned officers and officers assigned to NATO get to work largely on their own in unique missions, he said. In many cases, they also earn joint credit, a critical career requirement for field-grade officers, he said.

“There are a lot of people who are looking for something different,” Riley said. “This is our representation of the U.S. Army, so we have to send our best out to these positions. It’s good for the individual soldiers, it’s good for NATO.”

5 responses to “US Army Assures European Allies With Tanks, Bradleys and Relationships

  1. The only problem is the requirement to spend 5% of the national budget on defence. Some of the countries mentioned here, particularly the ex-Warsaw pact ones, are desperately poor and depend a great deal on EC handouts. There may be a problem with this money when the EC starts to totter, with no British money going in and the ordinary Germans becoming increasingly fed up with the behaviour of many of the almost a million refugees they have accepted. I just wish the Russians would be a little wiser in their dealings with their neighbours.

    • The. Germans certainly have troubled times ahead John. The burden of economic responsibility will fall to millennial and the generation that follows, as generation x has produced fewer children than any other post-war generation in Germany, focusing instead on personal careers and building the economy. This is going to leave Germany in some serious trouble financially as the present generation struggles to pay for a large population of retirees. Some have suggested that the current government have taken in so many refugees in order for young refugees who become German citizens to shoulder this economic shortfall, though this theory is open for debate, as it has also been suggested that the German people still feel a sense of responsibility over the holocaust, and it is this issue that has prompted them to accept so many asylum seekers. Either way, the economy of Germany and Europe has been set on a Rocky path. Thanks as always for your input.

  2. It’s good to see that, despite the words of Obama and the rocky political stance of the two new U.S. Presidential candidates, that the U.S. Army is still committed to working with NATO and her Europeans allies. Any weakness in the European countries will create a zone similar to Europe’s ‘soft underbelly’ of the First World War. These ex Warsaw Pact nations are the front line against enemies old and new and they need to be fully prepared for such events. A bolstering by U.S. forces in these training operations can only go to support the European nations.

    • America’s decision to bolster its forces in support of it’s European allies in NATO has been an extremely reassuring move, especially for the countries located on the eastern flank, like Poland and the Baltic States. The present political climate here n the US, is however, creating some uncertainty. If Trump wins the election he has said that he will withdraw all funding for US army rotational forces heading for Europe. Whether he would follow through with his plan, is another matter entirely. Thanks for your input Andy.

      • Good grief! The political situation here and there is getting ridiculous. If that funding is removed it could potentially destabilise the European alliance and put the defence of Europe at risk. Ok the U.S. Forces are not responsible for Europe’s borders, but it would go some way to creating a vacuum that could be taken advantage of by those with desires on the area. I do believe that the security of the U.S. relies partly on the security of Europe. You are welcome Rich as always.

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