173rd, saber junction, hohenfels, nato
Stars and Stripes September 9, 2022
HOHENFELS, Germany− The 173rd Airborne Brigade is back as the main focus of the annual Saber Junction exercise after a short hiatus since 2020.
This year’s exercise focused on assessing the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s ability to deploy and work in a joint environment with other allied nations. So far the Airborne has successfully completing missing dropping equipment and personnel in training environments. Unfortunately, the weather has delayed some of the training due to safety concerns of the jumpers.
The hiatus came after a change in its parent commands back in 2020. This change drew them out of the realm of responsibly of the Saber Junction exercise. Previously falling under the responsibility of the 7th Army Training command, the 173rd was then transferred to Southern European Task Force which later became part of the larger U.S. Army Europe and Africa command.
The Airborne Brigade based out of Vicenza, Italy made the 250-mile journey on short notice to participate in this year’s exercise. Instead of taking a week to settle into their new training environment, the 173rd wanted to simulate a realistic scenario by having their soldiers ready in seven hours versus seven days.
4,400 participants from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Kingdom will test their ability to work together at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center from Aug. 29 to Sept. 20.
The exercise will entail air borne missions supplying different drop zones with paratroopers and equipment. In coordination with foreign ground elements, logistics and other operational elements, the training challenges counties to communicate effectively to complete a common goal.
The 173rd hopes to demonstrate their ability to deploy equipment and personnel in short time fames in support of its allied forces. This type of training fulfills two of the Army’s key objectives, being able to deploy rapidly and being able to work in unison with allied nations.
“We can never get enough opportunity work with our NATO allies and partners,” said Col. Tim Shaffer, officer in charge of training for Southern European Task Force Africa.
Shaffer also stresses the importance of training in joint environment. It is import to the Army’s mission in Europe and Africa that all the countries are on the same page when it comes to the equipment and operating systems but also a human element as well.