Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
“It’s extremely important that our NATO Allies realize that the United States has their back,” said Capt. Vincent Franchino, platoon leader and AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot with C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, fires on enemy forces during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 1 of 9: A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, fires on enemy forces during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446 Download full-resolution version
An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, flies towards an objective during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-412
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 2 of 9: An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, flies towards an objective during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-412 Download full-resolution version
Bradley Fighting Vehicles from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 3 of 9: Bradley Fighting Vehicles from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446 Download full-resolution version
An AH-64 Apache from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, assaults an objective at Koren, Bulgaria, during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel on July 15. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-432
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 4 of 9: An AH-64 Apache from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, assaults an objective at Koren, Bulgaria, during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel on July 15. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-432 Download full-resolution version
An AH-64 Apache helicopter flies low behind a line of flags during a training area titled Peace Sentinel in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-436
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 5 of 9: An AH-64 Apache helicopter flies low behind a line of flags during a training area titled Peace Sentinel in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-436 Download full-resolution version
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-443
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 6 of 9: A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-443 Download full-resolution version
A line of flags at a training area in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19 during exercise Peace Sentinel, a combined arms live fire exercise between Bulgarian Land Forces, 4th Infantry Division, and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, as part of a larger exercise. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-123
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 7 of 9: A line of flags at a training area in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19 during exercise Peace Sentinel, a combined arms live fire exercise between Bulgarian Land Forces, 4th Infantry Division, and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, as part of a larger exercise. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-123 Download full-resolution version
An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, hovers during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 17. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-396
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 8 of 9: An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, hovers during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 17. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-396 Download full-resolution version
A Bulgarian Land Forces tank moves to an objective during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel  at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-295
9 photos: Task Force Falcon and Bulgarians combine forces for Saber Guardian
Photo 9 of 9: A Bulgarian Land Forces tank moves to an objective during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-295 Download full-resolution version
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, fires on enemy forces during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446
An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, flies towards an objective during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-412
Bradley Fighting Vehicles from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-446
An AH-64 Apache from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, assaults an objective at Koren, Bulgaria, during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel on July 15. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-432
An AH-64 Apache helicopter flies low behind a line of flags during a training area titled Peace Sentinel in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-436
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, defends a position during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-443
A line of flags at a training area in Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19 during exercise Peace Sentinel, a combined arms live fire exercise between Bulgarian Land Forces, 4th Infantry Division, and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, as part of a larger exercise. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-123
An AH-64 Apache helicopter from C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, hovers during a combined live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 17. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-396
A Bulgarian Land Forces tank moves to an objective during a combined arms live fire exercise titled Peace Sentinel  at Koren, Bulgaria, on July 19. Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in the Black Sea Region that builds readiness and improves interoperability among the 20 Allies who participate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs) 170717-A-TZ475-295

1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade, currently assigned to Task Force Falcon, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), worked alongside Soldiers from the Bulgarian Land Forces and 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during a combined arms live fire exercise (CALFEX) titled Peace Sentinel in Koren, Bulgaria, July 19-20.

The CALFEX was part of a larger U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led annual exercise that took place in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria titled Saber Guardian 17 and involved more than 25,000 service members from over 20 Ally and partner nations.

“It’s extremely important that our NATO Allies realize that the United States has their back,” said Capt. Vincent Franchino, platoon leader and AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot with C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade. “Through the process of planning and executing missions together, we get a real strong understanding of each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures. That understanding improves our interoperability and success in future missions.”

The planning began with a capabilities briefing to the Bulgarian Land Forces’ brigade commander, which offered information on what the AH-64 Apache helicopter can offer to troops on the battlefield. The two groups then formulated a training scenario that would be challenging and require them to work together closely to successfully defeat the enemy forces.

During the CALFEX’s first day, the exercise intentionally concluded with the Bulgarian Land Forces becoming enveloped by the enemy. The second day saw the aviators placing direct fire in front of the Bulgarians, allowing to gain the advantage and breach the enemy’s forces.

While the eye can often be drawn directly to the “action” during large-scale training exercises like Saber Guardian, it’s important to realize that there is a lot of work and training that goes on behind the scenes to ensure these missions are a success.

“The operations tempo at Saber Guardian has been really high,” said Sgt. Jacklyn Rockwell, an AH-64 Apache helicopter repairer with C Company, 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade. “Due to that high op tempo, we’ve had a lot of aircraft maintenance. Our Soldiers have taken a lot of ownership and responsibility for their aircraft since being out here at Saber Guardian, just wanting the aircraft to drive on and be able to participate in these missions.”

Saber Guardian is an annual, multinational exercise conducted since 2013 that rotates among Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The exercise is part of U.S. European Command's Joint Exercise Program designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations.

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