ZAGREB, CROATIA — There is always a certain array of color and curiosity in any multi-national military exercise in Europe. Uniforms are different, the sounds of many languages in the air, which soldiers can tell the most farfetched war stories or who has the best beer. It’s fun and a key component toward building trust and confidence among soldiers.
But during the Immediate Response 13 Exercise ongoing in Zagreb, Croatia, there is a different and curious sight for the Europeans taking part. It’s those black cowboy hats, from Texas, walking around and they soon learn “The Cav” is here.
Thirty-five soldiers from 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are among the 130 Americans taking part in the exercise.
This is the start of a new direction for the troopers at Fort Hood. These soldiers and others from their brigade are now regionally aligned in support of European Command under a program called the NATO Response Force.
“This is new for my soldiers, their deployment experience is either Afghanistan or Iraq maybe Kuwait, so this is a completely novel experience for all of us,” said Lt. Col. Jay Miseli, squadron commander.
Miseli said he and his soldiers are looking forward to their one-year alignment with EUCOM, and there is much to be learned from the other armies.
“We are very fortunate to have highly capable peers across the globe and the three partner battalions we are dealing with here are each extremely professional,” he said. “Every fight in the future will be a multi-national fight.”
The squadron also had an opportunity to get to know their partners in a far different way and with fewer restrictions than they had in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We have played sports, run with them, have had dinners with the various nations,” he said.
The squadron takes great pride in representing the Cav in Europe, Miseli said. His brigade’s motto is, “Relationships plus credibility equals freedom of action.”
“Our feeling is that when you are in the 1st Cavalry Division you are expected to provide a level of expertise which provides credibility,” he said.
While the squadron is contributing, it’s also learning. Miseli said that his group has had limited experience in the decisive action environment. The exercise is helping to focus his men on the year to come as part of the response force.
“Our Division felt this was a great opportunity for us to integrate into (U.S. Army Europe) and to also build our skill sets,” he said.
Then as part of a coalition, he said he felt the squadron would be more comfortable and more in tune with partner units.
“If I’m told I have to fight with the Slovenians or the Croatians or the Brits I know I will have great partners no matter what,” he said.