VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia —
Anyone who’s ever played a game of chess knows what it takes to win a match: patience, concentration and a bit of foresight.
Knowing the pieces’ capabilities and limitations for maximum effectiveness is crucial to checkmate the opponent’s king. Simply put, it takes skill.
Skill is exactly what soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment and 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment demonstrated during a combined arms live-fire exercise during Noble Partner 18 here Aug. 12.
Instead of rolling in with rooks, bishops and knights, soldiers brought Bradley fighting vehicles, M1A2 Abrams tanks, Stryker infantry carrier vehicles and AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The training exercise’s goal was to deploy a variety of firepower simultaneously and have a dynamic presence on the battlefield. The units involved practiced interoperability, not only between each other, but also with a platoon of Georgian army BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles with the 4th Mechanized Brigade.
“That’s what the Army is all about: bringing all the warfighting functions to fight and win our nation’s wars,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Aron Alexander, the battalion sergeant major with 2-5 CAV. “It’s a great opportunity to test all of our capabilities in terms of being expeditionary and being able to partner with other units located within U.S. Army Europe and [with] multinational partners.”
Weather proved to be an additional challenge during the exercise. Rain covered the range on the days prior, and the strengths of every moving piece on the battlefield had to be considered during mission planning.
“Tracked vehicles do a little bit better on the mud than wheeled vehicles,” said Army Capt. Richard Williamson, the exercise commander with 2-5 CAV. “To mitigate this, the Strykers move to the higher ground to establish their positions. My tanks and Bradleys will be on the lower ground, where we will have the organic ability to recover them.”
Another challenge was language. Communicating effectively with the Georgian platoon was necessary to maintain the dynamics of the complex area of operations.
“Once we got past the language barrier, we understood they don’t operate too different from us,” Williamson said. “Beyond that, it’s a matter of understanding their doctrine and blending it with ours to provide the most lethal possibilities for the exercise today.”
To break through the language barrier, Georgian interpreters were present, shoulder to shoulder with the Georgian leadership, to quickly translate orders between the host nation and American forces.
“This is my first time translating between the armies,” said Alex Vegiashvili, a college student serving as an interpreter with the Georgian army. “Seeing this live fire is really amazing. When I told my family I was going to be an interpreter for the Georgian army, they were very excited.”
Practicing Warfighting Skills
By employing several different vehicles at one time, younger soldiers learned vehicle recognition on the battlefield and their respective capabilities, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Sasscer, platoon sergeant with 2-5 CAV. Even the more seasoned noncommissioned officers got a chance to refresh their perspective.
“It makes me humble because I feel like I have a good grasp on this, but when you take on something this large in scale, it makes you take a step back and reconsider new ways of executing it,” Sasscer said.
Another successful day of training ended with a checkmate for the allies and partners of Noble Partner 18.
“Across the board, everybody was impressed with the capabilities the Georgians brought to bear, and how lethal those guys were out there,” Alexander said. “I’m very impressed with their performance today.”