National Guard volunteers return from Bulgaria, Romania mission

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BADABAG TRAINING AREA, Romania — Spc. Lee T. Williams, a supply specialist for the 730th Quartermaster Company out of Johnson City, Tenn., fires a Degtyarov-Shpagin Kruphokaliberny - Russian/Soviet 12.7 mm heavy machine gun at the firing range here Aug. 13. Tennessee Army National Guardsmen trained side-by-side with Romanian Land Forces on a variety of Army Warrior Tasks and small-unit infantry tactics for their annual two-week training time. (Department of Defense photo by Sgt. Marla Keown)

BABADAG TRAINING AREA — Romania — A Romanian Land Force soldier instructs Spc. Lee T. Williams, a supply specialist for the 730th Quartermaster Company out of Johnson City, Tenn., how to fire the Degtyarov-Shpagin Kruphokaliberny - Russian/Soviet 12.7 mm heavy machine gun Aug. 13 as part of the unit's participation in Joint Task Force-East for their annual training. The DShK takes a 50 round belt and fires at a rate of 550 to 650 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 860 meters per second. (Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Marla Keown)

BABADA TRAINING AREA, Romania — Soldiers of the Tennessee National Guard give a class on how to properly apply camouflage Aug. 15. After the class, Romanian and U.S. service members practiced painting their foreheads, cheekbones, nose, ears and chins with dark color and painting low, shadowy areas with light color. (Department of Defense photo by Sgt. Marla Keown)

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR FIELD, Romania — Approximately 350 Tennessee Army National Guard service members from units across the state returned to the United States Aug. 20 after they completed three weeks of training in Romania and Bulgaria. The service members participated in the third annual Joint Task Force-East rotation of a combined military exercise with the Romanian and Bulgarian Land Forces from Aug. 5-20.

The 176th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion headquartered out of Johnson City, Tenn., and their supporting elements arrived in Romania Aug. 5. The 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment, headquartered out of Chattanooga, Tenn., and various elements arrived in Bulgaria Aug. 6 to conduct training with their counterparts.

The three-week exercise fulfilled the reserve annual training requirement. They conducted training at platoon level and completed one major task per day. The types of training included dismounted infantry tactics, moving in squad formations, react to contact drills and a series of live fire ranges.

The purpose of JTF-East is to build interoperability capabilities and develop relationships with other militaries in regional security cooperation, said JTF-East commander Col. Gary R. Russ. More than 3,800 Romanian, Bulgarian, U.S. troops and civilians are participating in the three-month exercise.

"It was a complete integration of personnel, skills and resources," said Capt. Joe G. Smith, commander of the 730th Quartermaster Company of the tri-cities area.

JTF-East continues to be one of U.S. Army Europe's strategic priorities, and it plays a key role in the U.S. European Command's Theater Security Cooperation program.

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