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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

Army Re-Activates Historic Airborne Unit, Reaffirms Commitment to Arctic Strategy

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Several hundred Soldiers gathered in formation within the Alaskan Interior on a bright June morning Monday to take part in the activation of the 11th Airborne Division, posturing U.S. forces for strategic advantage in the harsh Arctic terrain.

The 11th Airborne Division unites about 12,000 Soldiers in Alaska under one flag, marking the first time that the Army has activated an airborne division in 70 years. During flag ceremonies Monday at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, shortened as JBER, the Army also re-designated the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, formerly of the 25th Infantry Division, into the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams of the 11th Airborne, respectively.

The activation reaffirms the Army’s commitment to its recently announced Arctic Strategy, which outlines the service’s plan to equip, organize and train with partner units to establish military dominance in the region. The division will be headquartered at JBER and members will wear the unit’s distinctive blue patch with a red and white emblem with angel wings to symbolize the unit’s call sign, “Angels.”

“Wherever you go, you will be the most highly trained, disciplined and fit Arctic warfighting unit in the world; ready to fight and win,” Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James C. McConville said to Soldiers at Fort Wainwright. “That is what you will do. That is who you are. We are counting on you.”

(Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan)

The activation also serves another purpose. By uniting the Army units as one airborne unit, Army leaders hope the activation can ignite a greater a sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm for Soldiers serving in one of the U.S. military’s most remote and desolate locations.

In recent months, the Army’s senior leaders have met with commanders at Alaskan installations to address quality of life concerns of Soldiers. Assessments revealed that the previous unit designations did not support unit cohesion.

“Experience has told us that units that have a common unit identity is a source of pride,” McConville said during a meeting with reporters. “It’s extremely important. And the history of a unit and the patch matter.”

McConville said the Soldiers of the 11th Airborne Division will be equipped with cold weather gear within the next 1 to 2 years. He added that the unit will serve as the Army’s leading experts for Arctic military operations.

McConville said that the Stryker Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Wainwright will transition to become a more mobile, infantry-based brigade combat team bolstered with a stronger air assault capability and the skills to maneuver effectively in extreme cold weather environments.

McConville added that the Army plans to move the armored Strykers out of Alaska by the end of the summer as it continues the acquisition process of Cold Weather, All-Terrain Vehicles or CATVs.

The 11th Airborne Division originally played a critical role during World War II and the Vietnam War. The Army credits the unit with the amphibious assault landing at Luzon, Philippines, and eventually helped secure the liberation of Manila from Japanese forces.

“The 11th Airborne Division has a storied history of valor during World War II in the Pacific and also has a proud history of innovation,” McConville said. “So we expect them to live up to the legacy … We expect them to be masters of their craft in Arctic warfighting and extreme cold weather and high altitude and terrain. We expect them to develop innovative ways of operating in this environment.”

The Army now has a strategically located unit that can quickly deploy to any region, especially those in cold weather climates such as Nepal and India.

“Their focus will be on dismounted and Arctic mobility and capabilities of sustained operation in the Arctic [and] extreme cold weather,” said 11th Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler. “In addition, they will providing those capabilities in other cold weather environments.”

Eifler added that U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Charles A. Flynn traveled to Nepal to meet with Nepalese leaders on coordinating more training opportunities with U.S. Army infantry brigade combat teams. Eifler said that includes the possibility of taking part in a joint expedition on Mount Everest.

By Joe Lacdan, Army News Service

USAF’s ShOC-N Battle Lab Hosts Distributed Command and Control Event

Friday, June 10th, 2022

Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada — The 805th Combat Training Squadron’s Shadow Operations Center – Nellis, or ShOC-N, is the U.S. Air Force’s premier battle lab supporting the development, advancement, and maturation of key technologies and capabilities designed to compress the kill-chain for joint and coalition warfighters.

The ShOC-N accomplishes this mission by utilizing multi-domain, all-domain, and cross-domain solutions spanning all classification levels, working closely with key defense, industry, and sister services such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Missile Defense Agency, and the Defense Industrial Base.

In addition to hosting government sponsors and industry partners daily, the ShOC-N is helping to steer and evolve Joint Staff doctrine and guidance for all-domain and cross-domain solutions and capabilities by focusing on defining and developing instrumentation for data, networks, software, and air component-specific command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence, or C4I, warfighting processes.

Working closely with their wide range of mission partners, the ShOC-N is a vanguard unit on the frontlines of next-generation technologies for the USAF and Joint Staff. With key placement and access to Nellis AFB’s unique mission, the ShOC-N is providing a critical venue to advance and refined key technologies and showcase them to U.S. and coalition leadership in a tactically and operationally relevant setting – to see the technology working in a warfighter environment with real-world operators at the helm vice a clean lab with scientists only.

Normally, ShOC-N leverages existing exercises to meet mission requirements.  But sometimes, when no other appropriate venue exists, the ShOC-N team will host its own organic event to advance and refine technologies. A recent example occurred at the end of April. The ShOC-N hosted an organic Distributed Command and Control Event simulating Agile Combat Employment utilizing new technologies available at the ShOC-N. The ShOC-N set up an austere location simulating a pacing adversary threat environment for the new technologies and their ability to operate in a degraded setting.

“ShOC-N’s ability to operate in the shadows of operational theaters or large-scale exercises allows us to experiment in the most realistic, operationally relevant ways.  Everything we do is nested within the USAF Warfare Center’s Pacing Challenge Campaign Plan. All new technology is vetted against our ability to compete with China,” said Col. Frederick Coleman, 505th Command and Control Wing commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

The Air Combat Command C2 Futures Branch’s Tactical C2 Weapon Systems Division leveraged the event to shape Battle Management Command and Control functions requirements, viewing several mobile and rapidly deployable tactical air component C2 systems at work in an ACE environment.

“Major General Slocum, ACC/A3 [director of operations], challenged the staff to rapidly prototype and field a Tactical Operations Center – Light, or TOC-L, capability,” said Maj. Carl Rossini, C2 Futures Branch chief. “[The] ShOC-N enabled us to meet that challenge by quickly bringing together the event, data, warfighters, test organizations, and acquisitions.”

Not only did this event leverage unique ShOC-N capabilities, but it also served as a risk reduction event for the Pacific Air Forces’ Valiant Shield 2022 exercise, along with ACC’s participation in the U.S. Army Futures Command’s Project Convergence 2022 exercise.

Organizations that partnered with the ShOC-N for the TOC-L experimentation included the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering 5G support team, the Missile Defense Agency, representatives of the ACC staff, the Air Force Joint Test Program Office, the 605th Test and Evaluations Squadron, the 422nd Test and Evaluations Squadron, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Solypsis, Global C2 Integration Technologies, Lower Echelon Analytics Platform – Tactical, or LTAC, and Novetta Systems.

In addition to external mission partner involvement and success, the ShOC-N employed their organic data scientist team to develop methodologies to measure data latency from various systems, data files, and logs. Their analysis proved successful and demonstrated data scientists’ current and future utility, along with the need to advance and automate instrumentation.

“Collecting and storing mass amounts of data without a plan is of no value. Turning volumes of data into decision quality information is where we show value, and I’m proud of our data science team,” said Lt. Col. David Spitler, 805th CTS/ShOC-N commander.

Instrumentation is a core attribute of the battle lab still under development.

“The analytics shown by our data science team and the LTAC cyber team sparked the imagination of what is possible. However, it also showed how much more investment is needed to truly instrument the battle lab,” said Col. Aaron Gibney, 505th Combat Training Group commander, Nellis AFB, Nevada. “We need to be able to define what we’re measuring and then measure it in an automated, objective, quantitative way.”

When data is collected, classified, labeled, properly tagged, and stored with ontologies, the instrumented data provides the basis for objective evaluation of technical performance in the experimental lab environment. Instrumentation is intended to enable objective methods for A|B comparisons, measuring compression of warfighting processes, data latencies, and the efficacies of prototypes against currently fielded hardware and software. With instrumentation, the ShOC-N will provide objective reviews to inform senior leader decisions for the continued prototyping and/or transition to test to deliver capabilities to the warfighter rapidly.

The Distributed Command and Control Event showed how critical the ShOC-N is as the USAF develops and matures advanced technologies to compress the kill-chain and streamline the decision-making process for warfighters. The ShOC-N was able to showcase key technologies in an ACE environment and will continue advancing its mission to support the warfighter. 

“The warfighter ethos is alive and strong in the ShOC-N,” said Coleman.

The 805th CTS reports to the 505th CTG, Nellis AFB, Nevada, and the 505th Command and Control Wing, headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida.  

By Deb Henley

505th Command and Control Wing

Public Affairs

Army Modernizes Pacific Expeditionary Signal Battalion

Sunday, June 5th, 2022

HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii — As the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, or ESB, celebrated its 80th birthday on May 27, the Army is converting the unit to an ESB-Enhanced formation. With this conversion comes a smaller, lighter and faster network communications equipment tool suite that will better serve the unit’s unique and varied mission sets.

With companies in both Hawaii and Alaska, the battalion provides global network connectivity on short notice to U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Army North units, often in harsh locations, from secluded island jungles thousands of miles across the ocean to ice-covered mountains in the Arctic Circle.

“We talk about the tyranny of distance, about the challenges created by the vast number of locations and extreme environments throughout the Pacific; this new expeditionary equipment set will help us to support those missions,” said Col. Lee Adams, commander of the 516th Theater Signal Brigade, to which 307th ESB-E is assigned. “We are always trying to improve and to provide foundational capabilities for the theater Army. This transition to an ESB-E does that for us; it gives us a better capability to enable the theater Army to fight successfully.”

The reduced size and system complexity of the equipment set enables ESB-E units to significantly increase their network support to other units with more nodes and less manpower, while reducing transportation requirements by over 60 percent. The tool suite includes various-sized expeditionary satellite dishes and baseband equipment, high-throughput backhaul radios, and wireless command post technologies. It replaces the unit’s much larger Tactical Network Transport At-The-Halt equipment, formally known as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, which is often transported across the Pacific via cargo ships. The new equipment set can be transported via commercial airline if needed, in hours versus days or weeks.

Prior to his current position, Adams commanded the first unit to be converted to an ESB-E, the 50th ESB-E, during the planning and initial fielding of the unit’s pilot equipment. The 307th ESB-E conversion marks the sixth unit that the Army has fielded with the new equipment package. The Army’s Project Manager Tactical Network, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, began fielding the unit with the Scalable Network Node to the companies in both Hawaii and Alaska in March. Fielding the remainder of the initial baseline systems is expected to be complete by the end of the fiscal year.

The Army’s agile ESB-E acquisition and fielding approach aligns with its two-year incremental Capability Set fielding process, which enables the service to enhance the ESB-E baseline capability in future capability sets if Soldier feedback warrants it, or when evolving commercial technologies become mature enough to be procured. On the current plan, the Army is fielding several ESB-Es per fiscal year until all of the ESBs have been upgraded to the new baseline capability.

“As I talk to the other ESB-E commanders, the [project manager], and its fielding team that is here now, and we get feedback from our Soldiers as they going through the training, I can see firsthand the accumulation of lessons learned and how the equipment set continues to improve,” said Lt. Col. Drew Chaffee, commander of the 307th ESB-E, who also once served as a company commander for the unit.

The ESB-E tool suite is a critical element of Capability Set 21, which delivers smaller, lighter and faster communications systems that are easier to operate and provide increased network communication Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency, or PACE, plan options. The tool suite provides signal path diversity in congested and contested environments, leveraging numerous high-throughput line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight capabilities.

“It’s critical to have a good PACE plan, to be able to incorporate different transport that may be more survivable in a particular terrain. Every commander wants more options,” Adams said. “When we are fighting in a battle environment that is degraded, intermittent or just has delayed latency, I have to have different technologies, different pieces of kit that make me more survivable, make us a harder target to hit, yet allows us to stand still to support multi-domain operations at an assured level. And that is what having these different network transport capabilities provide us.”

To enable additional transport paths for improved network resiliency, the Army is working to deliver high-throughput and low latency satellite communications leveraging emerging commercial technologies and services in non-traditional orbits, such as Low Earth Orbit and Medium Earth Orbit. In April, the 307th ESB conducted a demonstration of commercial high-throughput and low latency satellite communications, at the Helemano Military Reservation on Oahu. The unit plans to further experiment with the capability during upcoming U.S. Army Pacific training exercises.

“The name of the game is operational flexibility,” Chaffee said. “This new kit is scalable and tailorable to the mission. We have the operational flexibility to tailor our teams, our equipment set, and our footprint to the requirements based on the mission and the environment that we find ourselves in. This smaller lighter ESB-E kit is going to get us there much more effectively and it highlights the United States’ ability to support and adapt in some of the most austere and remotely located environments in the world.”

By Amy Walker, Project Manager Tactical Network, PEO C3T, public affairs

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

I had the privilege of visiting and getting a tour of The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam. Talk about a very moving experience. The work that they do is second to known in the world. The United States is the only country that actively searches for its unaccounted for. The mission of DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel from past conflicts to their families and the nation. Within this mission, they search for missing personnel from World War II (WWII), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other recent conflicts. Their research and operational missions include coordination with hundreds of countries and municipalities worldwide.

At present, more than 81,600 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Out of the more than 81,600 missing, 75% of the losses are in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 of the missing are presumed lost at sea (i.e., ship losses, known aircraft water losses, etc.).

One thing everyone can do to help is if you have any family members that are missing from WWII or newer conflicts, is to give a DNA test. This will help them to identify the remains they find. They are only allowed to get DNA samples from families. Contact you casualty assistance office.


Deployable active-duty military are needed to serve as qualified volunteers to fill critical functions across the globe. Volunteering to support humanitarian field activities as a short-term individual augmentee gives you an extraordinary opportunity to exercise your skills and expertise while directly supporting our nation’s promise to leave no one behind from past conflicts. Individuals interested in applying their skills and experience in a unique environment can volunteer for open positions supporting the US Military in foreign theaters.


505th TTG Provides C2 Expertise to 23rd WG‘s Ready Tiger Exercise

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

The 505th Test and Training Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida, provided critical command and control expertise during the 23rd Wing’s execution of their Lead Wing exercise, Ready Tiger 22-01 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Feb. 28 to March 4.

The 23rd WG conducted RT 22-01, an Agile Combat Employment LW exercise, in preparation for their upcoming, certification- exercise Agile Flag slated for later this summer. 

In November 2021, the 705th Training Squadron team provided LW C2 academics to the 23rd WG A-Staff which established base-line procedures for interacting with operational C2.  During RT 22-01, the 505th’s team evolved these procedures by providing a small scale Air Component replication for the 23rd WG.

 “The goal of providing replication, in place of standard white-cell injects, was to give the Lead Wing the realism of having to communicate and coordinate directly with entities at the AOC [Air Operations Center] and AFFOR [Air Force Forces] staff,” said David Hetzler, 705th TRS, ACE LW C2 subject matter expert, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

The four-day, LW exercise focused on maturing the 23rd WG’s ability to employ Air Base Squadrons to generate airpower downrange and maintain C2 in contested environments.

“The 505th CCW provided outstanding support to exercise Ready Tiger and brought realism to the interaction between the Lead Wing and Air Component. This integration, the first during any wing-led ACE exercise, brought valuable lessons learned from both the 505th CCW and 23rd WG, and will ensure future ACE exercises are more realistic and successful,”  said Maj. Paul Ochs, 41st Rescue Squadron RT deputy exercise director, Moody AFB, Georgia.

The future Agile Flag exercise will test the LW’s mission generation, C2, and base operations support elements to prepare warfighters from multiple installations and major commands for what they may encounter deployed while supporting the joint force air component commander. 

 “The 705th is using their subject matter expertise in creating tailored academics that prepare Lead Wings to integrate quickly with Air Components.  Our academics provide a baseline that the Lead Wing can build upon while developing TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures] to integrate with an Air Component’s staffs,” said Lt. Col. Marcus Bryan, 705th TRS commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.  “Our participation in Ready Tiger keeps us current on ACE Lead Wing employment concepts which directly informs our upcoming Lead Wing academic courses.”

Bryan continued, “This was the first time that a Lead Wing exercise used a real-time AOC replication cell to simulate the ‘normal’ back and forth interaction between an AOC/AFFOR and the Lead Wing, greatly increasing training fidelity for the 23rd Wing.  The experimental use of 505th TTG personnel sets the groundwork for using an operational C2 replication team during Agile Flag.”

“During Ready Tiger, I was able to replicate numerous, yet scaled functions such as the Chief of Combat Operations, Senior Offensive Duty Officer and Joint Personnel Recovery Center director directly with the 23rd WG’s WOC,” said Shawn Holsinger, 505th Training Squadron senior Combat Operations Division instructor, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “With extensive doctrinal knowledge and real-world experience on operational-level C2, our team is able to provide critical replication, similar to our AOC initial qualification training for 1500+ students per year.”

The 505th TRS is the USAF’s only AOC Formal Training Unit and trains geographic AOCs and functional OCs joint and coalition warfighters on C2 processes and systems used to employ air, space and cyber at the operational level of war.

In previous exercises, the Air Component was simulated however in RT 22-01 interactions between the 505th TTG replication team provided realistic interaction between the LW WOC and the Air Component.

“Our combined team of 705th Training Squadron and 505th Training Squadron C2 experts created an initial Air Component Replication Team for the Lead Wing exercise successfully providing operational C2 interaction within exercise Ready Tiger.  The connection and growth of Wing Operations Centers within theater battle management constructs and with the Air Component staffs is a necessary evolution to the future success of integrating the Lead Wing construct into ACE concepts,” said Col. Adam Shelton, 505th Test and Training Group commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

By Deb Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing, Public Affairs

USAF RED HORSE Restructures to Elevate Deployment Capabilities

Saturday, March 12th, 2022


When the 819th RED HORSE Squadron was presented with the challenge of accelerating change to increase deployment capabilities across their enterprise, they responded with an innovation that will completely change the way RED HORSE trains at home and how they deploy overseas.

“One of the big objectives is to make sure we are ready to confront the challenges of the future,” said Lt. Col. Javier Velazquez, 819th RHS commander. “The only way we can possibly do that is by building our teams in garrison the same way that they are going to be deployed and working together.”

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer. They are self-sufficient and mobile squadrons capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote environments worldwide. In addition to civil engineers, the squadron includes Airmen from more than 30 career fields.

Over the last several decades, RED HORSE squadrons organized themselves by those career fields. They spent time primarily with people who do the same job while they were in garrison and only built deployment teams when tasked to mobilize. This meant that when a RED HORSE team deployed, they would have to build camaraderie and learn to trust one another in the deployed environment.

“Nowadays we don’t have that luxury,” Velazquez said. “We need to be sure that we can hit the ground running on day one and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve with our new structure.”

Now, the squadrons will be restructured into teams based on their ability to fulfill a specific purpose. These teams include horizontal construction, demolition and quarry, vertical construction, expeditionary engineering, site assessment and support functions.

This means if a combatant commander needs, for example, an airfield built at their location, RED HORSE would send them a horizontal construction team that includes all the right people, tools and assets necessary to complete that task.

“By putting these teams together, we have the ability to not only know each other…but be organized in a way that is capabilities-based,” said Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Laidlaw, 819th RHS senior enlisted leader. “When the combatant commander comes down and says, ‘we need a water well drilled,’ we press the button and they’re there. They are organized, trained, equipped and ready to go.”

The squadron’s leadership emphasized that the idea is to spend as much time at home as possible working together, solving problems and maintaining their readiness.

“This new construct really focuses us on that capability as well as readiness,” said Maj. Keegan Vaira, 819th RHS director of operations. “In the previous way we were doing business, that wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind and under our new structure, a huge piece of what these teams are doing every day is making sure they are ready to execute that mission.”

“Everyone can get ready at once,” said Senior Master Sgt. Serena Goethe, 819th RHS first sergeant. “They all got their shots at the same time, they all did their firing at the same time, they did their (computer-based trainings) at the same time so they knew they were all good to go at once.”

After the initial planning process, the 819th RHS completed the transformation in about five months from August to December 2021.

“At the beginning of any change it’s difficult and it’s a lot of unknowns,” Laidlaw said. “In that initial storming change of this transformation I would say it was a little uneasy to be honest and it should have been because we’re changing the way we’ve done business.

“Once (the Airmen) started buying in and seeing the process and understanding where we were going and seeing the benefits it provided them, the majority have come on board and have been very positive about it.”

Goethe added that while Airmen will spend most of their time working with the teams in their new flights, they will have the opportunity to work with others within their specific career fields for training and mentorship.

“I’m glad to say that the 819th is taking the lead for the entire enterprise with the support of the 800th RED HORSE Group,” Velazquez said.

The 819th RHS is the first RED HORSE squadron to complete the restructuring.

“The cumulative plan came almost exclusively from the 819th” Laidlaw said. “This unit went through a lot to come up with this concept and they deserve the credit for it.”

By Heather Heiney, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

1st SFC(A) Stands Up Special Operations Forces Training & Experimentation Center at White Sands Missile Range

Friday, March 11th, 2022

1st Special Forces Command (A) officially activates SOF-TEC as a formal command directorate, March 8, 2022, at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

The Special Operations Forces Training & Experimentation Center will serve as a leading installation for irregular warfare readiness for both USSOF and our partners around the world.

SOF -TEC will test cutting edge designs, equipment, and techniques, and facilitate cyber, electronic warfare, and Space training.

SOF-TEC is headed by Special Forces Colonel Theodore Unbehagen.

US Army’s 4th SFAB Joins the Fight at Allied Spirit

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

HOHENFELS, Germany – Advisors from the U.S. Army 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade participated in their first multinational exercise in Europe as they worked alongside their Latvian counterparts during Allied Spirit 22 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Jan. 21- Feb. 5.

Approximately 5,000 soldiers from 15 nations including Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States took part at 7th Army Training Command’s JMRC in Allied Spirit 22.

Advisor teams from the 4th SFAB, which is stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, arrived in Europe in September, 2021, and are currently advising land forces in Georgia, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland and Romania. The SFAB concept was developed as special advisory teams to aid in training and advising armies in specific needs that are developed in close coordination with allies and partners. There are five active duty SFABs and one National Guard SFAB, each with a different geographic focus.

Twenty-one 4th SFAB Soldiers serve as team advisors in warfighting functions such as infantry, engineering, medical, logistics, and field artillery within the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade while deployed to Camp Adazi, Latvia, and integrated into positions across the brigade during exercise Allied Spirit.

“Our main mission here is to improve interoperability between us and our NATO allies and partners, while doing whatever we can to gain understanding of how our allies and partners conduct large-scale combat operations,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Andrew Shanks, a logistics advisor team leader assigned to 4th SFAB, who served as a battle captain within the MIB’s Latvian Combat Service Support Battalion during the exercise.

Unlike the Saber Junction and Combined Resolve series at JMRC, which feature U.S. brigade combat teams in a lead role augmented by allies and partners, Allied Spirit places an allied unit as the main training audience. For the second time since 2017, the Latvian MIB served as the allied brigade headquarters for Allied Spirit.

“This is the first large exercise of its kind in which SFAB teams have integrated with a persistent partner as advisors months prior to the exercise, during the exercise and months after the exercise,” Shanks said.

Allied Spirit 22 was led by the German Army’s 1st Armored Division, whose staff provided command and control over a multinational brigade and other constructive elements. Based in Oldenburg, the division is part of NATO’s 1st German Netherlands Corps.

“The absolute best part of the exercise was working closely with our partners, and as much we could hope to teach, we also learned just as much,” said U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Joshua Kirby, a 4th SFAB advisor who worked with fire support officers in two command posts within the Latvian MIB.

In 2018 the first SFAB was activated in Fort Benning, Georgia. The vision was to take mature and experienced Army leaders and utilize them as small teams of select training advisors trained to deploy worldwide to liaise, support, assess and advise our international partners and allies.

The 4th SFAB initiatives include advising, support, liaising and assessments of military capabilities of allied and partner forces. Building trust through persistent presence aims to improve the security environment and to ensure continued interoperability, 4th SFAB will train with partners and allies to deter aggression and defeat adversaries. The 4th SFAB builds on enduring partnerships in multi-domain areas, extending cooperation throughout the European theater.

“Allied Spirit 22 proved a tremendous opportunity for 4th SFAB to enhance interoperability between allies while building readiness for large scale combat operations. Advisors from the 4th SFAB have established our reputation in Europe as a force multiplying asset since their arrival in October of 2012,” said Col. Robert Born, commander of the 4th SFAB. “The experience gained by our Advisors, in support of the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade, will prove invaluable and dramatically increase the effectiveness of 4th SFAB.”

The U.S. Army’s only overseas training command and combat training center is located in Germany, to provide ready and capable theater assigned U.S. forces but also to facilitate testing and strengthening interoperability with allies and partners to support theater operations and drive readiness within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“There’s only certain times we’re able to go through this Combat Training Center rotation at JMRC,” said Maj. Edward Gibbons, 4th SFAB Team Leader. “For us to do this rotation in a multinational context is significant for our own internal professional development. The lessons we learned, and seeing how other brigades and battalions performed, was a great experience for us.”

The 4th SFAB is scheduled to support multiple scheduled exercises in Albania, Bosnia, Germany, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Poland, and Turkey in spring, 2022.

For more photos, videos and news stories from exercise Allied Spirit, visit: www.dvidshub.net/feature/AlliedSpirit

Follow the 4th SFAB on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4SFAB

Follow the 7th Army Training Command on Facebook: www.facebook.com/7thATC

Follow U.S. Army Europe and Africa on Facebook: www.facebook.com/USArmyEURAF

By SPC Nathaniel Gayle