Dragoon Ride will send US troops through eastern Europe in show of support
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 12, 2015
STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. Army soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment will soon begin a 1,100-mile convoy through six countries en route to their home station in Vilseck, Germany as they wrap up months of training with allies in Poland and the Baltics, Army officials said.
Troops will be taking their Strykers on a “road march,” dubbed Dragoon Ride. They will be accompanied by aerial reconnaissance support provided by the Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, U.S. Army Europe said.
Normally, military vehicles would be shipped back to their home base by rail after such a training mission, not by road in a high profile convoy.
To reassure countries on Russia’s western periphery, the U.S. and other NATO allies have been training continuously in the Baltics and Poland since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year.
“This is a complex mission involving a significant amount of international diplomatic and military cooperation,” Lt. Col. Craig Childs, a USAREUR spokesman, said in a statement. “It will allow all units involved an opportunity to test their unit maintenance and leadership capabilities while simultaneously providing a highly visible demonstration of U.S, commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO’s ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation.”
The journey will take soldiers with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, from separate training locations in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland and convoy them through Latvia, the Czech Republic and finally to their home base at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, according to USAREUR.
Along the way, the troops will be camping out during a series of planned stops where they will meet with local community members.
“For those participating in it, Dragoon Ride is a unique opportunity,” Childs said. “Soldiers and their leaders will have numerous opportunities to engage with local communities along the route, deepen their appreciation for the cultural diversity within the alliance and enhance the relationships that are essential to building and maintaining mutual admiration, respect and trust among allied militaries.”
The 4th Infantry Division deployed a headquarters element to Europe in February to command and control U.S. land forces supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve, the military’s effort to train and reassure allies while sending a message of deterrence to Russia. The 4th Infantry Division will be responsible for overseeing the road march from the Joint Multinational Training Command at Grafenwöhr, Germany, and from mobile command group locations forward in operational area, USAREUR said.
Before Dragoon Ride begins, troops will hand over responsibility for USAREUR’s land force training mission in the Baltics and Poland to soldiers with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Stewart, Ga., USAREUR said.
On Monday, hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles arrived in Latvia, which will be distributed across training areas in the Baltics, Poland and German. They will be followed by 3,000 troops from the Georgia-based unit. A battalion-sized element from the 3rd Infantry will take over the 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s mission in the Baltics and Poland while the rest of the soldiers will take part in other exercises in Europe. Their rotation is expected to last until June.
Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct a combined training exercise with Estonian soldiers in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, March 7, 2015, in Rabassare, Estonia. The unit is planning an 1,100-mile trek from Poland and the Baltic nations back to its home base in Viseck, Germany.
KIMBERLY MIANECKI/U.S. ARMY