Across the European theater, U.S. forces and NATO Allies and partners showcased unrivaled levels of interoperability over the past ten days by conducting multiple operations and exercises from Belgium to Romania, and from Sweden to Greece.
As armored military equipment for bilateral and multinational training was offloaded from ship to shore in Antwerp, Belgium, special forces conducted operations across Sweden's rugged archipelagos, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and crews rapidly deployed to Romania, and multi-national forces tested air defense capabilities in Greece, all while taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"The versatility and resilience of our forces and the militaries of our European Allies and partners are undeniable," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard Lebel, U.S. European Command’s deputy director of operations. "While we smartly and deliberately take all necessary health protection measures to protect our forces and the communities in which we operate, our commitment to remain ready, relevant and responsive never wavers."
As part of the seventh armored rotation to support Atlantic Resolve, the U.S. Army 21st Theater Support Command, headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, offloaded mission-critical equipment for the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team at the Port of Antwerp. Teams offloaded nearly 2,100 pieces of equipment from two ships to support the unit's nine-month European deployment.
“While each of these exercises and operations dramatically demonstrated our collective conventional and special operations abilities to defend every region across Europe, logistics played an instrumental role,” according to U.S. Navy Capt. Jeffery Rathbun, USEUCOM J4’s plans and exercises division chief. “From quickly moving forces and delivering the full complement of military equipment and vehicles that allowed those forces to be so effective, logistics was front and center.”
Further, in Sweden, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe trained alongside the Swedish Armed Forces and Home Guard as well U.S. Navy Forces-Europe’s forward deployed Navy destroyer, the USS Ross. The 16-day joint, bilateral air, land and sea exercise honed the participants’ ability to operate in lockstep with conventional forces for possible Baltic Sea region contingencies.
With USEUCOM's air, land, sea and special operations components and Romanian land forces, the seven-day bilateral, joint training exercise Rapid Falcon culminated Saturday. Featuring the U.S. military’s long-range, mobile, precision HIMARS, the exercises again demonstrated the ability to rapidly deploy forces and fires to support NATO as part of the Dynamic Force Employment construct.
"Rapid Falcon is one in a long and impressive list of operations and exercises illustrative of USEUCOM's strength in rapidly deploying forces via air, sea and land at a moment's notice anywhere across Europe to respond to any crisis," Lebel added. "This exercise also demonstrated without question our command's ability to deliver long-range precision fires capabilities to support our Allies and partners."
The German-led, Greek-hosted multinational air defense live-fire exercise NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) 2020 is one in a line of exercises enhancing the readiness of NATO forces through the integration of land component air missile defense capabilities. With 250 specialized military members from four nations – Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the U.S. – the 16-day exercise, which concludes Friday, is designed to enhance the combined U.S. and European ability to control defensive fires in Eastern Europe, while increasing readiness through the integration of land component air and missile defense capabilities.
While those live exercises and operations were occurring simultaneously across the European theater, USEUCOM’s J5/8 Directorate was leading the command’s annual 12-day Strategy Implementation Conference. Bringing together country team representatives from 13 NATO Ally and nine partner nations as part of the virtual gathering, the high-level planning focused on ensuring that all elements of the four-star command’s overarching strategies were well aligned. Enhancing and improving interoperability remained at the heart of those strategic discussions.
"From air, land, sea and space, USEUCOM, along with each of its service components, continually focuses on honing its craft in synchronicity with America's Allies and partners across Europe. There is not one day that passes during these varied and vigorous exercises that Europe's collective defense isn't being strengthened and further solidified," Lebel concluded.
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for U.S. military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of more than 64,000 military and civilian personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and partners. The command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. For more information about USEUCOM, visit https://www.eucom.mil.