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    Air Defense units support DEFENDER-Europe 21, Astral Knight 21



    Story by Sgt. Joshua Oh 

    U.S. Army Europe and Africa     

    ZADAR, Croatia – The 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery has begun training with multinational forces in support of both DEFENDER-Europe 21 and Astral Knight 21 (AK21), May 19, 2021.
    AK21 is a U.S. Air Force multinational training exercise working in association with the U.S. Army-led, DEFENDER-Europe 21, and will provide interservice, as well as multinational training for 5-7 ADA Soldiers.
    Joint integrated air defense is a shared picture of everyone’s respective assets. The air picture that is sent up to a central node requires accurate communication not only between military services but also on a multinational level.
    The meeting of these two exercises makes for invaluable training between air defense units in preparation for a future modernized war or to support exercises like these. Part of the exercise creates an air picture of the region used for the exercise Immediate Response 21 – a logistics focused test of allies’ ability to move a large force and equipment rapidly to and through Europe. The 5-7 ADA will provide protection of the ports used, and the assets as they travel through the theater.
    “Air defense is going to be a lot more important in modern warfare, as we’ve seen in the recent past,” said 1st Lt. Paul Smith, a Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, native, and a fire control platoon leader with the 5-7 ADA. “It’s important that we are able to integrate our air defense with other nations’ air defenses, which requires a lot of coordination and cooperation with host nations as well as our Air Force in the U.S.”
    Building relationships is at the core of DEFENDER-Europe 21. Interoperability is important to smoothly communicate across multiple organizations to accomplish missions and requirements.
    “If we ever had to answer a call together in a joint fight, we will be more capable of doing that,” said Capt. Rachel Skalisky, the commander of C Battery, 5-7 ADA. “It’s important to train like this, not only to build relationships, but also because when the time comes, we’ll be able to come together more readily, more efficiently, and rapidly.”
    In theory, training makes a Soldier quicker and more skilled at what they are assigned to complete. Training with NATO Allies and partner militaries increases these measures by increasing opportunities to learn from one another and increase lethality while staying safe.
    “It helps us to be able to share our techniques and our standards,” said Smith. “The way that we handle air defenses are a lot stricter, as far as what we engage in the things that we do. It helps us integrate our procedures with them to make the air space safer.”
    While training and exercises take long hours and tough work, Soldiers of the 5-7 ADA are resilient and were excited about the chance to travel the distance to work with Croatians in their country.
    “It’s a good opportunity for all of our guys to get to come and see more of Europe and get to meet our partners,” said Smith. “It’s a really big takeaway for them, they really get excited about coming over here, meeting everybody, and getting to see more of the world.”
    DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large scale U.S. Army-led exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO allies and partner militaries. This year, more than 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations will conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in more than a dozen countries from the Balitcs to the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea Region. Follow the latest news and important information about DEFENDER-Europe 21 at



    Date Taken: 05.19.2021
    Date Posted: 05.23.2021 01:56
    Story ID: 396854
    Location: ZADAR, HR 

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