M1A2 Abrams tanks arrive at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Jan 31, 2014. The vehicles are part of the European Activity Set, a combined-arms battalion-sized set of vehicles and equipment pre-positioned at the Grafenwoehr Training Area designed to support the U.S. Army's European Rotational Force and the NATO Response Force during training exercises and real-world missions. The tanks will be used for the first time in May during exercise Combined Resolve II at the U.S. Army's Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas.

Markus Rauchenberger | U.S. Army

As the designated European Response Force, 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will join a dozen other nations for about two months of training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany.

The training exercise, known as Combined Resolve II, was created specifically to prepare the response force for any situation that could arise during its one-year mission.

“This mission is not just another rotation,” said Col. John Norris, the center’s commander, during a phone interview from Hohenfels. “Because of the current situation going on in Europe right now with the Ukraine, this is a strategically important mission. ... We have 12 nations all coming together ... all working as one unit, one element toward a common goal toward a common mission. That’s the future of NATO and future of interoperability. It’s how we’re going to fight future wars.”

More than 700 soldiers from the “Ironhorse” Brigade’s headquarters and 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, are already arriving in Germany and training will begin May 15.

“As soldiers we continuously train to remain proficient in our skills and maintain readiness to answer the nation’s call for any mission we are assigned,” said Lt. Col. Kirk Luedeke, 1st Cavalry Division spokesman. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to partner alongside our European counterparts, reaffirming our commitment to our NATO partners.”

Aside from the U.S., participating nations include Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

“That multinational piece — that’s the biggest deliverable that we offer here,” Norris said. “As you know from the drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq, these partnerships that we’ve built over 12 years at war ... if we don’t sustain that in a training environment we are going to lose a lot of the gains we’ve achieved in terms of friendships, access and common operational procedures.”

The Army developed regionally aligned forces as combat operations closed in the Middle East in response to the increasing complexity of the global security environment that ensures responsiveness, consistent availability and a higher level of training and expertise.

This will be the first big training exercise for a force aligned with Europe.

“They are getting ready to have a tremendous training experience, one they will not soon forget,” Norris said. “What we see going on is absolutely, strategically important and even more so in today’s time.”

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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