HOHENFELS, BY, GERMANY
HOHENFELS, Germany — The German pilot lowers the helicopter’s ramp. The Armenian major instructs his men to rise. They file out of the aircraft, running swiftly through the wet grass to the designated rally point. The major walks over to the American engineer and medics to discuss how to best approach the villagers.
Soldiers from Armenia, Germany and the United States are working together to learn how to operate together in a tactical environment to prepare for the challenges they will face during their upcoming peacekeeping mission to Kosovo.
“We came here in a German helicopter, moving the first half of our platoon here, and the other half on a second trip,” said Capt. Davit Aleksanyan, a platoon leader for the Armenian Peace Keeping Brigade. “We did our patrol mission, we gathered information and we gave it to our commander who is now negotiating with the town leaders to go and engage them and start meeting with them.
Maj. Adrian N. Priester, Air Training Officer for the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade helped coordinate the logistics of the movement as part of an exercise at Joint Maneuver Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany.
“We had multinational troops, multinational aircraft and U.S. command and control,” said Priester. “We had troops from across borders, boundaries, and also the use of ground and aviation assets to support this mission from the beginning to the end.”
Priester, a native of Fairfax, S.C., said that this was the first time they had executed a multi-layered mission with their international counterparts.
“The fact is that the German’s had control of the air operations, the Armenians carried out the ground mission, and we, the 218th, ran the command and control element, from air to ground and throughout the area of operations,” he said. “It all came together seamlessly.”
“There is always the unknown and the uncertainty,” continued Priester. “As a soldier you always use all your resources. We have the language difference that becomes a barrier, but the mission objective, the mission intent and the mission drive is the same across the board. Whether Armenian, Romanian, or Ukrainian we all have the same intent, and all the barriers are almost eliminated, because it all just becomes about the mission. All that other stuff, just sort of disappears as we carry on.”
Aleksanyan, who has spent the last 10 years serving his country says that the more exposure soldiers get to working with other nations, the better equipped they will be to assist the people of Kosovo.
“The overall objective is to incorporate NATO and Partnership for Peace countries who are serving in Kosovo so that they can understand each other, and the situation in Kosovo,” he said. “In order for everything to work we all have to understand each other, we will joke together, and we will be a team so we can help the people of Kosovo.”
“When I look around, I can see a lot of faces that I have seen before, so this is not the first time we have had to work together, and we are beginning to get familiar and learn each other and as far as I can tell we are doing great,” said Aleksanyan. “Of course it can be difficult to communicate with each other sometimes and to understand the different procedures that each army has, but when it comes to this mission, when it comes to working together we are doing well.”
The communication and working relationship between the different nations has been going smoothly, agreed Priester. The depth of training the soldiers are receiving is an experience that will be taken advantage of.
“This is a great opportunity, it allows American soldiers to learn their limitations as well as their capabilities, and it allows them to see what others soldiers are capable of,” said Priester. “Multinational soldiers bring a vast amount of experience to the table we have got to embrace that and learn from it.”
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