Exercise Rapid Trident 2013 comes to a close

July 19, 2013

By Maj. Mike Weisman, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

YAVORIV, Ukraine -- Paratroopers from Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) provide security during movement on a training lane as part of exercise Rapid Trident 2013, July 9. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Cole)

YAVORIV, Ukraine -- A Moldovan soldier returns fire during a field-training exercise during Exercise Rapid Trident here. The 12-day U.S. Army Europe-led multinational field training and command post exercise finished with a closing ceremony July 19. The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between forces and promote regional stability and security. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Cole)

YAVORIV, Ukraine -- After two weeks of training, Exercise Rapid Trident 2013 officially ended July 19 with a closing ceremony at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center here.

Approximately 1,300 soldiers from 17 nations came together July 8-19 to participate in the U.S. Army Europe-led, U.S. European Command Joint Training and Exercise Program event designed to enhance interoperability between forces and promote regional stability and security.

“I thought Rapid Trident 2013 was a great opportunity for multinational training,” said Col. Alfred Renzi, director of assessments for the USAREUR operations directorate (G3) and this year’s exercise co-director. Between tactical platoons, STX (situational training) lane instructors, staff officers and observer/trainers, we took advantage of experience from 17 countries.”

Soldiers from host nation Ukraine, along with forces from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey and the U.S., participated in this year’s exercise.

In the first week of the exercise, soldiers from each nation rotated through situational training exercises, honing small-unit tactics and exchanging techniques and methods with their multinational counterparts. Infantrymen trained on key tasks such as countering improvised explosive devices, convoy operations and dismounted patrolling.

Each of the situational training lanes was set up and run by a different partner nation, offering a broad range of expertise and giving participants a different perspective on tasks on which they may train routinely.

“Rapid Trident provides the Canadian Forces a unique opportunity to work with our multinational partners to advance our skills and those of all participating nations,” said Canadian contingent commander Maj. Stephen Hale, part of Land Force Atlantic Area based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Our counter-IED trainers are among the best in the world. The skills they have gained on recent operations are passed on to prepare other soldiers for future operations.”

Several of the forces rotating through the situational training lanes were formed into multinational companies consisting of one or more platoons from one nation combined with troops from other nations, under a single company commander.

“Rapid Trident has been a great exercise for improving small-unit tactics and multinational interoperability, especially at the company level,” said Maj. Brent LeGreid, whose group of observer/coach/trainers from USAREUR's Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany provided oversight and feedback to units during Rapid Triedent. “This training has given these soldiers and leaders a great opportunity to share techniques and develop long-term relationships.”

“It is important to understand how other nations work together because we can learn different tactics and show other nations,” said Capt. Joshua Keatts, commander of Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

The diverse units were formed into a single multinational battalion during a field training exercise that involved conducting combined maneuver and wide-area security operations against an opposing force. The battalion was built around a Ukrainian airborne infantry battalion staff and augmented with multinational staff elements. Several of the companies combined one or more platoons from multiple nations.

“We built a multinational battalion, even down to the company level,” said Renzi.

The multinational battalion received direction from the Ukrainian 95th Separate Airborne Brigade headquarters staff, allowing both staffs to conduct command post operations to stress their planning and execution capabilities.

“In addition to trainers, Canada provides staff officers within the headquarters elements,” said Hale. “Training in this way with partners ensures we are ready to work together on real operations when we are called upon.”

This year marked the 11th iteration of the Rapid Trident exercises. The exercise was conducted under the name “Peace Shield” from 1998 to 2002.

USAREUR units that participated in the exercise included an airborne infantry company from USAREUR's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), the JMRC observer/coach/trainers, elements of the 21st Theater Support Command and the USAREUR headquarters. Additional U.S. forces were provided by the California Army National Guard.

As in past iterations, this year's Rapid Trident continued the exercise's focus on airborne and air-mobile infantry operations, with paratroopers from participating countries conducting more than 300 individual jumps from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on three exercise days.

Another important facet of the exercise was the participation of several Ukrainian units in a NATO Operational Capabilities Concept Evaluation and Feedback Program. A team of inspectors from NATO's Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey evaluated units via a variety of technical inspections and skills demonstrations.

“We signed our evaluations with the NATO monitors,” said Ukrainian Lt. Col. Ihor Zenin, deputy chief of the IPSC and director of the self-evaluation. “The result is (that) we are certified as combat ready. These units are able to conduct operations with NATO forces.”

Renzi said the most valuable thing the units participating in Rapid Trident gained from the exercise was experience working with their partners and overcoming obstacles such as language barriers and differences in tactics and equipment.

“Participants have to fight their way through those frustrations, and they did,” he said. “It was really gratifying to see units from different countries exchange tactics, techniques and procedures.”

USAREUR Commanding General Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. paid a visit to the exercise July 17 as part of a group of two dozen senior military and civilian officials from several nations. Campbell said he planned to discuss future Rapid Trident exercises with Ukrainian Land Forces Commander Col. Gen. Genadiy Vorobiov.

“It’s too good of a training exercise to not talk about it for the future,” said Campbell.

Visit the Rapid Trident website for up-to-date photos and information.

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