NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria — Bulgarian Land Forces and U.S. Army troops demonstrated their interoperability and combat skills Oct. 8 during distinguished visitors' day here. The training exhibition consisted of both militaries engaging an enemy where the coalition neutralized the opposing force. Units of both countries deployed to the Novo Selo Training Area early August to enhance their troops' individual combat skills and improve their coalition cooperation.
The high-ranking officials witnessing the combined exercise were the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov and Minister of Defense Nickolay Mladenov, Bulgarian Land Forces Lt. Gen. Ivan Dobrev, chief of Land Forces Training Headquarters. Additionally, the Charge' d'Affairs to Bulgaria, Ambassador John M. Ordway, U.S. Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, and various dignitaries participated.
Borisov said he supports the interoperability and training operations with the United States and that the training site was a good venue to prepare units for deployment. "Currently, this has been the location for the preparation of our companies." He referred to four Bulgarian units that have rotated through the training exercise.
"We'll keep the cooperation and continue with the construction of the base," Borisov said in reference to the construction of new training facilities. "There are other [nations] that have requested to use the training area." He said Serbia and Ukraine have shown interest in training here.
Ham echoed the prime minister saying, "This is, for us Americans, a great opportunity to train here alongside our Bulgarian counterparts. It allows us to practice here at Novo Selo the kinds of operations that we will work together in Afghanistan and other locations. And as the prime minister said, Gen. Dobrev and I will look for opportunities to bring other partner nations to train at this great facility."
Bulgarian Land Forces Col. Biser Kalinov and U.S. Army Col. Gary Russ accompanied the distinguished visitors through a tour of the site. Displays of military rifles to anti-tank weapons, emergency and combat vehicles, and simulation equipment were displayed. Subject matter experts on each component described their use and answered any specific questions. The officials were also shown the recreational facilities, which provide internet, phone, television and games for troops to increase morale and welfare.
Joint Task Force-East, a combined partnership effort of leaders, special staff and logistics support, facilitates select units rotating through training cycles. The JTF-E exercises consist of tactical field and simulation training including, but not limited to: squad- to company-level size attacks; assault rifle, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade live fire; Stryker and BMP-1 armored infantry carrier vehicle movements and combat lifesaver training.
JTF-E is an element providing combined training opportunities for Bulgarian, Romanian and U.S. forces. U.S. support staff in Bulgaria is the forward operating component of JTF-E, which is headquartered in Romania. Combined exercises are being conducted simultaneously in each country for participating units. Units of the Bulgarian Land Forces, U.S. Army Tennessee National Guard's 1-181st Field Artillery Battalion of Chattanooga, Tenn., and U.S. Army's 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, from Vilseck, Germany, trained at the Novo Selo Training Area.