ZAGREB, Croatia — There are 349 soldiers, from nine nations, training at the Croatian Army Simulation Center for Exercise Immediate Response 13.
This is the third year in a row that Croatia has sponsored this event which is designed to sustain regional partnerships, while given soldiers of the Balkan region a chance to share staff skills with soldiers from the U.S. and the U.K. Each of the Balkan region countries are represented here. Croatia, Slovenia, which will host this exercise next year, along with Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia are taking part.
Brig. Gen. Boris Seric, commander for Croatia’s Motorized Brigade, is the co-exercise director and host for the event, he said, “This exercise is a very good example of increased regional cooperation and to increase regional security.”
Seric added, “We all come here with different knowledge, I think at the end of this exercise all of us will learn a lot because we all have different tactics and procedures and we learn a lot from our partners especially the USA."
Slovenia is represented here by the 132nd Mountain Regiment, its commander Lt. Col. Anze Rode said that these exercises are important to get to know and learn how to interact in NATO.
“We must be familiar with our NATO partners with their tactics for when we deploy, it is good to have friends in other units and nations, the working relations will be much easier, we know each other’s strengths and capabilities.”
Rode indicated he and his soldiers learn a lot from their American counterparts. The U.S. is represented by groups from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels, Germany, the 1st Cavalry Division and the Hawaii National Guard.
Rode said, “I am used to working with Americans a lot; I can work with them easily they help us when we need help.”
Rode and his soldiers will train at Hohenfels later this year.
This exercise is sponsored by the U.S. Army Europe. It is part of a series of exercises which emphasize regional cooperation within NATO, joining the Black Sea area Saber Guardian and the Baltic States Saber Strike events.
USAREUR’s chief of Multinational Training Col. Andrew Heppelmann is the co-director of Immediate Response 13 and he was quick to point out that from his perspective these events give the Americans a chance to listen and learn as well.
“The biggest lesson learned for the American soldier is that our way of doing business is a good way but not necessarily the best way to do business within the framework of a coalition so it’s important to listen to our partners and allies to understand what their tactics, techniques and procedures are and what their capabilities are.”
Heppelmann added cooperation is so important because future missions the U.S. might undertake will almost certainly be in the framework of a coalition and that coalition will come from Europe.
Slovenia joined NATO in 2004 and Croatia in 2009.