News: National Guard Volunteers Return from Bulgaria, Romania Mission
Story by Sgt. Marla Keown
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR FIELD, Romania — Approximately 350 Tennessee Army National Guard service members from units across the state are returning to the United States today. 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.
"By the time we left, the Romanians looked normal in the formation," said Capt. Joe G. Smith, commander of the 730th Quartermaster Company of the tri-cities area. It was a complete integration of personnel, skills and resources, he added.
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.