Combined Resolve VII marks final Europe rotation for Fort Stewart unit
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 6, 2016
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The seventh iteration of the U.S. Army-led Combined Resolve series of international training and war gaming is nearing its final days at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels.
The Combined Resolve exercises began in 2013, partly as a way for U.S. European Command to test its regionally allocated force in a multinational environment. During these large-scale events, U.S. Army units join with NATO and other allied nation armies to learn how to fight more effectively together.
Only two U.S. Army units have fulfilled the brigade role in Combined Resolve in the years since, said 7th Army Training Command spokesman Christian Marquardt. The first was the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.
The current allocated force is the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. Together with a Polish mechanized unit and a Romanian mountain unit, it served as the bulk of the land force during Combined Resolve VII.
“This is where it all comes together, when you put all those pieces together in a live-fire event, just like you would in combat,” said Col. Phil Brooks, the brigade combat team commander.
Brooks, along with the rest of his brigade combat team, will be saying goodbye to the European theater for a while. This rotation is the third and final time his unit will serve as the regionally allocated force. It will be followed next spring by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo.
The unit’s leaders took a break from the shooting, marching and strategizing to reflect on what their deployments to Europe have meant. Most, including Lt. Col. Mike Owens, commander of the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, focused on the training aspect of their time on the Continent.
“It’s also been a great training opportunity for the BCT, so we’ve been out here three times. Where we’ve been able to, at different levels we’re training with multinational partners,” Owens said during an artillery exercise leading up to Combined Resolve VII.
“But we’re also given a great opportunity to train ourselves and get after some high-level training that this deployment has afforded us the opportunity to do,” he added.
Of those opportunities, it was the chance for junior leaders to take a more active role that most interested 1-3’s top brass. With combat deployments dwindling across the Army, the next generation of soldiers need these training exercise to hone their leadership skills, Brooks said.
Training junior leaders is one of the purposes of both large and small training events. That aim has been driven home through presentations, hip-pocket classes and countless PowerPoint presentations throughout the military.
While it may be tiresome to some, soldiers like Staff Sgt. Tyronne Linder of the 9th Engineer Battalion still take the concept to heart.
“The reason I spend so much time with my soldiers is there is a chance I’m not going to be there all the time and they need to know that, have confidence in themselves that they know what they’re doing,” he explained.
“They need to know what right looks like, and I want to show it to them now, in a training environment, so when it does become a real event they know what they’re doing.”
A 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment tank fires downrange at the U.S. Army training grounds in Grafenwoehr, Germany, on Aug. 18, 2016. The tanks were participating in a combined live-fire exercise as part of the Combined Resolve VII multinational training event that is scheduled to wrap up Sept. 15, 2016.
MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES