Queen’s Royal Hussars at Saber Junction 17
In an overcast and densely wooded forest, drenched in rain and lush with green vegetation, a herd of Black Forest deer dash across a gravel road.
They reveal their most recent bedding area, as well as the location of dozens of British troops and the Bulldog armored personnel carriers that they have shared this part of the forest with over the last two days. These troops, along with thousands of others from several other nations, are here at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany for Saber Junction 17.
Exercise Saber Junction 17 is a U.S. Army Europe-directed exercise designed to assess the readiness of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment to conduct unified land operations alongside NATO Allies and partners.
Over the next two weeks, these UK soldiers, along with 1,000 others from NATO allies Albania, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia, and four partner nations, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Ukraine, will be training alongside about 3,500 U.S. personnel. The United States is represented by the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element (4ID MCE), and several other U.S. military units.
Rotations conducted at JMRC are multinational in nature. Allied and partner nations use the opportunities these exercises provide to work through their own training objectives while developing their interoperability solutions.
“In a wider sense, the exercise allows us to practice redeploying within Europe, working within a multinational environment,” said Maj. Mike Whitmarsh of the Queen’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup, 20th Armored Infantry Brigade. “This helps us to achieve interoperability in order to work better with our closest allies, the U.S. armed forces and our other close European allies.”
In fact, Whitmarsh had already sent four of his own tanks deeper into these woods to embed with a Polish mechanized company operating in a valley nearby, and those tanks worked under Polish command for this portion of the exercise.
In addition to gaining the benefits of training in a multinational environment, the participating nations here also have opportunities to work with equipment from other countries to gain experience on their use.
“The Polish mechanized company has some capabilities, specific wheeled vehicles like the U.S Strykers, that aren’t within the British military,” Whitmarsh said. “We are, however, seeking to acquire them in the near future. So not only do we get the benefit of working very closely with our allies but we also get to see how we might employ some of the capabilities that our allies are bringing here,” he added.
For other UK soldiers operating in this exercise, the experience also provides them the opportunity to train in an environment different from what they are accustomed to in their own country.
“For us, training-wise, this is a great opportunity,” Sgt. Ian Longmore, a gunner with the Queen’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup. “The rain and the density of the wood lots, we don’t get this in the UK. We also don’t see the terrain and the elevation changes, so it’s good for us, especially on our armored equipment, to test the crew’s folly in navigating this terrain.”
Whitmarsh also commented on the unique terrain here at JMRC.
“It’s a really interesting training environment for us and we don’t routinely train in this type of terrain,” he said. “Working in this area gives us a chance to refresh old skills and to develop new tactics techniques and procedures as new sort of threats appear.”
Saber Junction 17 is scheduled to continue through the middle of May. The weather and the terrain will continue to challenge these soldiers throughout the exercise.
At the end, the deer will likely return to this part of the forest, and the soldiers will return to their homes with new training and experiences gained.
Source: US Army.
Image: A soldier from the Queen’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup, 20th Armored Infantry Brigade, is followed by a British Bulldog armored personnel carrier through the deep mud caused by steady rain during Saber Junction 17 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, May 2. Saber Junction 17 is the U.S. Army Europe’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s combat training center certification exercise, taking place at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Apr. 25-May 19, 2017. The exercise is designed to assess the readiness of the regiment to conduct unified land operations, with a particular emphasis on rehearsing the transition from garrison to combat operations, and exercising operational and tactical decision-making skills. Saber Junction 17 includes nearly 4,500 participants from 13 NATO and European partner nations.