Soldiers from two brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division will participate in large multinational exercises this month — one in Europe, the other in Africa.
A Coastal Courier reporter will be embedded with 3rd ID soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they work with militaries from other nations in several training events.
Anakonda 16 is a massive multinational exercise organized by the Polish military that takes place every two years. The 1st ABCT and other American forces will participate with militaries from more than 20 NATO and partner countries in the exercise, which takes place across Poland before the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July.
More than 30,000 participants, thousands of vehicles, 12 naval vessels and more than 100 aircraft will be involved in the exercise, according to the Anakonda 16 website.
Col. Phil Brooks, the commander of 1ABCT, talked about the upcoming exercise Wednesday in a phone interview from the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland.
“It demonstrates how we’re rapidly — we the participants — are able to come together under one unified command here and train in a hybrid or real complex scenario,” he said of the exercise.
“It also reassures our allies and partners that we’ll remain committed to our collective defense if required here,” Brooks added. “So we can rapidly deploy to a country in Europe anywhere, mass people and equipment, and then be able to sustain that combat power…” with a variety of equipment and personnel.
Before coming to Poland, 1ABCT soldiers participated in several other exercises across the region to prepare.
Brooks said his soldiers were still training before the exercise, and then units will continue with more training in other countries after the Polish exercise. The 1st ABCT’s current mission is as U.S. Army Europe’s regionally allocated force.
During Anakonda 16, 1ABCT will work closely with several countries, including Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania and Sweden, according to Brooks.
Some of the events that Anakonda 16 will have for participants include airborne jumps, air assault operations and a massive-causality exercise.
One of Brooks’ training objectives is “to focus on interoperability.”
“And by that, I mean being able to work with different countries because we all have different standards in how we operate,” he said.
“We’re excited to be here,” Brooks wanted to tell people back home. “It’s going to be great fun, and it will be a great training event.”
“I appreciate their continued support of our families back there because we couldn’t do what we do now without the support from the community,” he added.
Central Accord 2016 will be hosted by Gabon to prepare participants for regional security issues and the ability to conduct joint United Nations peacekeeping operations. The 2nd IBCT will send soldiers from its headquarters and 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment to participate and support the exercise.
The brigade is currently U.S. Army Africa’s regionally allocated force under United States Africa Command. Soldiers from the brigade recently participated in Western Accord in Burkina Faso.
The exercise will have more than 900 participants from 14 countries, including from Central African Multinational Force member nations Belgium, France, Germany and Netherlands, along with the United Nations, according to a 2IBCT fact sheet.
Lt. Col. Brian Ducote, the commander of 3-7 Infantry, said the exercise will provide his soldiers with readiness, interoperability between militaries and capacity building.
Interoperability means sharing best practices, techniques and procedures “from all the participating nations so that we really can work together if need be in the future,” he said.
Training from the exercise will allow participants to expand their current skills and capabilities, Ducote said, “and a lot of these individuals who are training are going to fight violent extremist organizations or conduct peacekeeping operations, and they face all these different threats in their home nations.”
“So really, they’re going back with this awesome, unique skill set that you can’t get anywhere else other than from kind of working with the United States Army and the 3rd Infantry Division,” he added.
Exercise events during Central Accord include jungle warfare school, live-fire exercises, and multinational airborne jumps.
Having training like this in a peace-time environment allows participants to gain skills to protect their people, according to Ducote.
“What a great opportunity to be able to provide someone a skill set to then apply to protect their own people,” he said. “That’s awesome. So it’s actually the Phase Zero that we always talk about before major combat operations are even required. So it’s just a good feeling.
“So it’s not always about fighting the war — we do that when called upon when we have to, absolutely — but this is about helping people before major conflict breaks out to shape the environment and to honestly promote regional stability,” he added.
Overall, both commanders emphasized the readiness component that the exercises will provide for their soldiers and the interoperability that comes with working with other nations.