U.S., German soldiers pair up for annual exercise

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
May 28, 2010

Hohenfels, Germany -- Capt. Keith Tyler of the Grizzley Observer-Control team conducts an after action review with members of the 472nd Logistics Battalion, a German reserve unit, after the soldiers completed a vehicle recovery mission in a replicated Afghan village in the Hohenfels training area on May 25, 2010. Hosted by JMRC's Falcon Aviation Support Observer-Controller Trainer team, the annual exercise continued the German-American partnership between JMRC and the reserve component units of the Bundeswehr communities at surround Hohenfels. (Army photo by SFC Tyrone Walker)
Hohenfels, Germany -- Capt. Keith Tyler of the Grizzley Observer-Control team conducts an after action review with members of the 472nd Logistics Battalion, a German reserve unit, after the soldiers completed a vehicle recovery mission in a replicated Afghan village in the Hohenfels training area on May 25, 2010. Hosted by JMRC's Falcon Aviation Support Observer-Controller Trainer team, the annual exercise continued the German-American partnership between JMRC and the reserve component units of the Bundeswehr communities at surround Hohenfels. (Army photo by SFC Tyrone Walker)

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- At times, this year’s annual Operation Open Gate in the Hohenfels training area looked like a scene yanked off a battlefield in Vietnam. On this morning, five UH-1 Hueys swept into a valley and touched down in a landing zone outside of a small village. About two dozen soldiers with weapons in hand piled out of the helicopters, fading into the surrounding grassy field. Just as quickly as the thunderous helicopters had landed, they took off and disappeared over the surrounding hill top.

The German soldiers in this air movement exercise were not foot soldiers. Rather, they were members of the 472nd Logistics Battalion, a German reserve unit from Holzheim. For many of the soldiers who hoped off the helicopters before conducting a vehicle rescue mission in a mock Afghan village, the experience at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center was something they had waited for all year.

“This is the highlight of the year,” said Lance Cpl. Hubert Speer of the 472nd Logistics Battalion. “We get a lot of training, but nothing like this.”

The German reserve and American soldiers paired up for the 8th annual air movement exercise at JMRC during Operation Open Gate in the Hohenfels training area here.

The German-American exercise involved JMRC pilots, Grizzly Team Observer-Control Trainers and 48 German reservists from the Logistics Battalion. Hosted by JMRC’s Falcons Aviation Support Observer-Controller Trainer team exercise continued the German-American partnership between JMRC and reserve component units of the Bundeswehr in communities that surround Hohenfels.

“They help us as much as we help them,” said Maj. Jonathan Tackaberry, Falcons Aviation Team executive officer.

Two platoons from the logistic battalion each completed the air movement and vehicle recovery mission. Still, there was more to the exercise than two dramatic combat air movements aboard helicopters. It also required the German soldiers to make their way into a populated Afghan village to talk with civilian leaders in an effort to locate and retrieve a disabled vehicle. To turn things up a notch, JMRC scenario planners included sniper fire, which required the German soldiers to use platoon level combat tactics and procedures to neutralize the sniper.

With the chance of that some of the Germans will deploy someday to Afghanistan, many of the soldiers looked at the exercise as an introduction to American-styled counter-insurgency operations.

“If you’re going to Afghanistan, you need to know this,” said Lt. Markus Koch of the 472nd Logistics Battalion.
At the end of the day, Grizzly Team OC-T Capt. Keith Tyler, who led after action reviews with each platoon, praised the Germans’ effort. “They did pretty good,” he said.