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    Multinational SOF and Sky Soldiers combine unconventional and conventional warfare at Saber Junction 19

    Multinational SOF and Sky Soldiers combine unconventional and conventional warfare at Saber Junction 19

    Photo By Sgt. Patrik Orcutt | Special Forces Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Patrik Orcutt 

    U.S. Special Operations Command Europe   

    “For us being Special Forces, we are the first on the battlefield, then we are the last to leave,” said a Bulgarian Special Operations Tactical Group Commander.

    The Bulgarian Lt. Col. was the commander of the SOTG for exercise Saber Junction 19. Approximately 5400 participants from15 NATO and partner nations including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuanian, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and the U.S. took part in the exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Sept. 3-30, 2019.

    The exercise partnered about 100 Multinational SOF from Bulgaria, the U.S., and members of the Lithuanian National Defense Volunteer Defense National Force, or KASP, with conventional forces to improve integration and enhance their overall combat abilities.

    “SOF coalition force integration is a large part of this exercise for us,” said a U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), acting as an Observer Coach Trainer for the exercise.

    To determine the best use of SOF capabilities to support larger combined maneuver, the Bulgarian SOTG Commander coordinated directly with his conventional force counterpart U.S. Army Col. Kenneth Burgess, the commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The SOTG also placed SOF liaison officers within the brigade staff to facilitate communication directly between the staff and SOF on the ground.

    This gave the SOTG the ability to support critical portions of the exercise such as the joint forcible entry, a multinational airborne operation delivering paratroopers from Ramstein Airbase into the exercise to seize key terrain. Paratroopers from the Italian Army’s Folgore Brigade jumped from Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 aircraft to set the drop zone for the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Bulgarian and U.S. SOF provided early reconnaissance of the drop zone and secured the area for the pathfinder’s jump, ensuring they had up to date information from the moment they hit the ground.

    This multinational coordination was one of the key objectives of the exercise.

    “From my point of view, this is the most important exercise for my unit in that it helps prepare us for future NATO missions,” said the Bulgarian commander. “We are currently on standby in my country [as a quick reaction force], so this exercise is beneficial for us.”

    Lithuania’s KASP also worked alongside SOF to set conditions for the conventional force. Exercising their real-world mission of unconventional warfare, the KASP integrated with Special Forces Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 5th SFG(A). This combined time conducted operations ahead of friendly lines in enemy-occupied territory to enable the multinational conventional joint force..

    The KASP are structured similar to the U.S. National Guard, with about 500 professional soldiers and 5,000 reservists, but have a very different mission.

    “Our mission is to conduct territorial defense, so we must be ready to defend our country against any type of threat, either hybrid or conventional,” said Col. Dainius Pašvenskas the KASP Commander.

    Pašvenskas added that the demand to come to exercises like these within his unit is so high that they have placed internal requirements to be selected. After completing rotations in exercises like Saber Junction 19, they share the techniques they have learned within their units, and teach the unconventional warfare tactics to the rest of the force.

    The KASP’s missions at Saber Junction 19 included long-range reconnaissance, direct action and personnel recovery.

    “We may have different tasks but we will operate in a similar area as Special Operation Forces,” said Pašvenskas. “Working with Special Forces and learning from their experience is an excellent opportunity for us.”



    Date Taken: 09.30.2019
    Date Posted: 10.28.2019 09:12
    Story ID: 349417
    Location: HOHENFELS, BY, DE 

    Web Views: 226
    Downloads: 0