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A Mine-Clearing Line Charge is fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
A Mine-Clearing Line Charge is fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
A Mine-Clearing Line Charge is fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
A Mine-Clearing Line Charge is fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
A Mine-Clearing Line Charge  explodes, clearing a path for soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
A Mine-Clearing Line Charge explodes, clearing a path for soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
The aftermath of a Mine-Clearing Line Charge, fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
The aftermath of a Mine-Clearing Line Charge, fired by soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
An Assault Breaching Vehicle with soldiers from the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team enters the training battlefield during a combined-arms exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 25.
An Assault Breaching Vehicle with soldiers from the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team enters the training battlefield during a combined-arms exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 25. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
An M1 Abrams tank with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team fires during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
An M1 Abrams tank with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team fires during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
An M1 Abrams tank with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team fires during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
An M1 Abrams tank with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team fires during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team in an M1 Abrams tank use smoke to signal their reinforcements during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017.
Soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team in an M1 Abrams tank use smoke to signal their reinforcements during a training event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Monday, April 24, 2017. (Martin Egnash/Stars and Stripes)

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.”

egnash.martin@stripes.com Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

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