Inside Exercise Allied Spirit VI
NATO and Partner for Peace Nations Fight It Out in Germany
Allied Air Assault Training
Czech Helicopter Gunships and Transports in Air Assault Simulation
A Czech Mil Mi-24 helicopter of the 221st Helicopter Squadron and 22nd Helicopter Squadron flies to its mission destination while conducting a simulated Air Assault during Exercise Allied Spirit VI at 7th Army Training Command’s Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, March 25, 2017.
The Mi-24 is a Russian-made helicopter gunship, attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers. As a combined armoured gunship and troop transport, the Mi-24 has no direct NATO counterpart. It has a max speed of 335 km/h and a range of 450 km. The Czech Air Force currently operates 17 Mi-24s.
Dutch soldiers of the Air Assault Company, 13th Infantry Battalion, Airmobile Brigade (Luchtmobiele Brigade) also boarded a Czech Mi-171 helicopter of 221st Helicopter Squadron and 22nd Helicopter Squadron, during the air assault simulation phase.
The Mil Mi-171 is a variant on the Mi-17 (specifically the export version of the Mi-8AMT), also a Russian-made helicopter. It is a large transport helicopter capable of holding 24 troops. It has a max speed of 280 km/h and a range of 800 km. The Czech Air Force has 24 Mi-171s.
Thunderbirds Train with Latvian Army
“This annual training gives us a chance to step back and see things from the next higher level,” said Col. Chris Chomosh, commander of the 45th IBCT. “It’s a great opportunity to work alongside our multinational partners and train with some capabilities we don’t normally have at the brigade level.”
Allied Spirit VI Highlights U.S. Operational Development
Allied Spirit VI highlights another trend – increasing use of the National Guard and Reserves to augment U.S. Army operations. In addition to the Oklahoma National Guard, guardsmen from Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana and Michigan, as well as Army Reserve units from Minnesota and North Carolina are augmenting the command and control, public affairs, maintenance, medical, engineer, and civil affairs capabilities for this exercise.
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. contingent in Allied Spirit VI are reservists performing their annual training, providing a vital role in boosting the capabilities of the land force.
“National Guard and Reserve support is huge,” said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Rummage, the Division Operations Center noncommissioned officer in charge, Joint Multinational Readiness Center, 7th Army Training Command and native of Atwood, Tennessee. “Significant parts of our opposing forces, observer controller trainers, and over half of our division controllers have come from the Guard. Some of the best observer controller trainers I’ve ever worked with have been guardsmen.”
Enhancing Multinational Spirit
With increased reservist participation in U.S. Army Europe activities, opportunities for guardsmen to develop multinational relationships has also increased. For this exercise, multiple areas of the division staff have been augmented with Latvian liaison officers, and the working relationship has been especially effective in the division intelligence section.
“Getting an understanding of the approach the Latvians take to intelligence gathering, and realizing that, other than some different terminology, we approach things very similarly is awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Todd Anderson, an intel analyst for the 45th IBCT from Lantana, Texas. “The insight the Latvian analysts have been able to provide of their capabilities has been really helpful. They are a vital part of our battle rhythm and responsible for some important products.”
“Being able to partner with other NATO nations, and see everything we’ve been training in Latvia working in this exercise has been great,” added 1st Sgt. Dainis Gudermanis, a staff assistant with the J2 Intelligence Branch of the NATO Force Integration Unit Latvia, and a division intel analyst for this exercise.
French Army Provides Logistics Support During Exercise
The Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s Adler Observer, Coach, Trainer (OCT) Team is taking the lead in mentoring the combined French and U.S. Army units in the exercise.
“The French company and the U.S. Company are sharing the mission,” French Forces Capt. A. Aemy, Resupply Company Commander for the 511th Trans. Regt.
This training exercise has already delivered revelations for both teams regarding equipment compatibility and communication.
“On one of the early training days, the platoon leaders discovered the moveable pallets (flat racks) were compatible with both U.S. and French truck models,” said U.S. Army Capt. Elvin Santos, JMRC Adler’s primary OCT with the combined French-U.S unit.
Flat racks are a versatile piece of equipment for carrying supplies such as ammunition, meals, and other essential supplies.
“They are able to maximize these assets during convoys for troop movement,” said Santos.
The French regiment also fields a platoon with seven light-armored vehicles dedicated to force protection and convoy escort.
“The 511th Transport Regiment’s traffic control and escort platoon provide traffic control and security at resupply points during the convoy,” said Santos.
The battalion has transport and security forces working together to refine communication in the event of any future real world incidents.
Pitching camp after a quick move, the communications, maintenance and medical elements are fastidious in blending with the varied terrain of Hohenfels.
“There are a few friction points we are discovering,” said Aemy. “This is not negative when training together.”
“It is better to have the dialogue start in exercise,” he said. “We are finding where our systems are compatible, and finding where we can smooth rough areas.”
Exercise Allied Spirit VI includes about 2,770 participants from 12 NATO and Partner for Peace nations, and exercises tactical interoperability and tests secure communications within Alliance members and partner nations.
Featured Image: A German soldier of 8th Reconnaissance Battalion, 12th Armored Brigade provides security while conducting a reconnaissance operation during Exercise Allied Spirit VI at 7th Army Training Command’s Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, March 24, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Danielle Carver)