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Capabilities Day leads to better understanding between NATO members

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Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 4:30 am

HOHENFELS, Germany — As a prelude to Combined Resolve II exercise the Joint Multinational Readiness Center hosted a Capabilities Day on Saturday, as a way of developing technical and tactical interoperability among U.S., NATO and partner-nation forces.

Combined Resolve II is the largest scheduled multinational exercise in Europe this year, including more than 4,000 soldiers from 14 NATO and partner nations, at the Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr Training Areas in southeastern Germany, May 15 to June 30.

“This is a pre-emptive chance to learn rank, culture and equipment of partnering nations,” said Sgt. James Walsh, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Walsh said the unit will conduct air assault training with the Austrian Army throughout the coming weeks. He said it’s an “amazing privilege,” while pointing to Capabilities Day as an opportunity for “all forces to know what each other have.”

“While deployed to Iraq, I worked with Ukraine; while deployed to Afghanistan, I worked with Poland,” Walsh said. “I had no idea I would be working with the Polish. We never know who we will be fighting alongside.”

With such a day and the impending multinational training mission, there come challenges with the benefits, said French Capt. Hugues de Bonnieres, 1st Company, 126th Infantry Battalion.

“The language is the biggest challenge,” said de Bonnieres. “This is my first opportunity to work in a multinational partnership. This partnership gives us everyday tactical and technical stuff to use.

“I will keep in my memory small things, and suspect the U.S. will do the same,” de Bonnieres said.

“We are here to provide combat support, and present our capabilities and become aware of our allies. It’s both fun and great experiences,” said Capt. Sergey Vogrin, of the Slovenia army.

Col. Herbert Krassnitzer of Austria’a 25th Infantry Battalion, said something as simple as Capabilities Day has real life implications.

“It is a real-life possibility to conduct multinational operations. We expect a very interesting and demanding exercise,” Krassnitzer said.

Capabilities Day and the impending Combined Resolve II will help NATO maintain the lessons learned during the past 12 years of war.

“In the current climate, we must train to work and think like other countries,” Walsh said. “In any and all contingencies, we have to be prepared for what life and war may bring us.”

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