US rotational forces in Europe conduct largest training event since arrival
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 25, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The rotational armored brigade deployed to Europe has carried out its largest exercise so far, with nearly 1,400 troops and more than 800 vehicles conducting a live-fire exercise here.
“This is the first time we’ve conducted a brigade-level field exercise since our arrival in Europe,” said Capt. Scott Walters, the public affairs officer for the Army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, which contributed the bulk of soldiers.
The Army has had an armored brigade on rotation since January of this year as part of the U.S. military response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
Army officials say the exercise — Combined Resolve VIII — helps the rotational troops assess how they will react to an attack on a NATO ally by a conventional force. It runs from April 19 to June 16 and will be conducted in three phases, the longest of which will last 10 days in the field.
“They are doing exactly what they would be expected to do in the event of a crises,” said Lt. Col Jake Larkowich, a senior trainer with the Timberwolves Maneuver Team, Joint Multinational Readiness Center. “This is as close as you can get in the training environment.”
During the training, the soldiers cleared more than 140 yards of inert landmines, using a Mine-Clearing Line Charge, then carried out an assault through the area with M1 Abrams Tanks and Bradly Fighting Vehicles, setting up a hasty defense and engaging targets.
The brigade destroyed more than 100 targets, including some resembling Soviet-era infantry-carrier vehicles currently used by the Russian and Chinese armies.
“This simulated a battle with a near-peer enemy,” said Capt. Sergio Loynaz, the officer in charge of the the training range. “It went really well. They were fast, they had smooth transitions, the breach was effective. Their rehearsals paid dividends.”
Monday’s training was the first phase of Exercise Combined Resolve VIII. The next phase, beginning mid-May, will have the rotational force work with soldiers from NATO allies and partner nations.
“Working with our allies is absolutely essential,” Larkowich said. “That’s how we are going to fight in a crisis.”