Moldovan troops join North Carolina Guard counterpart for large-scale training at Fort Bliss
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: August 20, 2018
They don’t wear the same uniforms. And in many cases, they don’t even speak the same language.
But the Moldovan soldiers training alongside the North Carolina National Guard at Fort Bliss, Texas, are part of the same team as their American counterparts.
The N.C. Guard and Moldovan troops have been paired together for almost as long as Moldova — a former Soviet republic — has been an independent nation.
Linked by the National Guard State Partnership Program in 1996, Moldovan troops train with their Tar Heel counterparts dozens of times each year.
The training typically involves small groups of North Carolina soldiers visiting Moldova, or Moldovan troops visiting North Carolina for short periods of time.
But the training underway in Texas and parts of New Mexico is a unique opportunity to fit the foreign soldiers into a massive training exercise involving thousands of troops, not just from North Carolina but from across the country.
More than 4,100 soldiers from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team and supporting units are training for a potential deployment.
The brigade is based in Clinton and includes soldiers from across the state, as well as West Virginia and South Carolina.
Their training is part of National Guard and First Army’s eXportable Combat Training Capability, or XCTC, program, which will prepare the brigade for an even larger exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, next summer.
Next year will mark the beginning of the unit’s so-called “Ready Year,” when it could be tasked to deploy in support of any number of military missions around the globe.
Moldovan troops are working side-by-side with their North Carolina counterparts, embedded with multiple units within the 30th ABCT.
Lt. Col. Matthew Devivo said 95 Moldovan soldiers are in Texas. They include scouts, maintainers, medics and staff officers.
Medics are working with the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, conducting combat casualty care training that mimics battlefield wounds.
And Lt. Col. Bob May, commander of the 1st Combat Arms Battalion, 252nd Armor Regiment, said a Moldovan reconnaissance platoon of about two dozen soldiers has embedded with the battalion’s scouts for the exercise.
And they weren’t simply plugged in, he said.
“They have been sending teams to train during drill weekends at Fort Bragg,” May said. “I also led a team to Moldova in the spring to prepare and train with them.”
The State Partnership Program was created as a way to engage with former Soviet republics, who are provided with non-lethal military assistance, training and mentoring. The partnership also has expanded to other state agencies and cooperation in the realms of education, medicine, agriculture and more.
Officials have said the partnership has three goals: to promote security cooperation, establish links between militaries and share best practices.
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1-252 Armor Regiment had the honor to host Moldovan Armed Forces Brigadier General Igor Cutie, center right, Chief of Defense for Moldova, during XCTC exercise during Annual Training 2018. Cutie was escorted by NCNGs Asst. Adjutant General for Maneuver, Brig. Gen. Todd Hunt, center left. Cutie and his staff were on site to observe how 1-252 integrated Moldovan Scouts into Combined Arms Operations with lethal results.
MATTHEW DEVIVO/NORTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO