L’VIV, Ukraine — By sight and sound, it seems to be a standard Army Tactical Operations Center with maps, computers and communication equipment, but the team working there is anything but ordinary. The battle captain is Canadian, the intelligence officer is Polish, the operations officer is Ukrainian and the other key personnel represent nations across Europe; this is the TOC for Rapid Trident 15.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 18th Military Police Brigade partnered with military personnel from nations across Europe to form the 18th Multi-National Brigade during the multinational training exercise Rapid Trident 15 held at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center July 20 to 31.
The ever-vigilant brigade, stationed in Grafenwoehr, Germany, arrived in Ukraine with their brigade headquarters’ element and immediately began constructing their TOC. As they set up their equipment, they began integrating with partner nation military from Canada, Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Romania. Together, this team would be responsible for command and control of more than 1,800 Soldiers from 18 nations including their own.
“We have military personnel here from Ukraine, the United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Turkey,” said Col. Zane Jones, commander of the 18th MP Bde. “We have augmented our brigade staff with officers and leaders from several of these nations, proving the interoperability of Europe’s armed forces.”
During the 10-day exercise, the 18th MNB conducted a Command Post Exercise to develop the capability and interoperability of U.S. forces working alongside their multinational partners. Meanwhile, U.S. Soldiers from the 709th Military Police Battalion, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Airborne, and military personnel from the 18 partner nations conducted military tactics training together. This training culminated in a Field Training Exercise during which multinational battalions conducted simulated battles while the 18th MNB exercised command and control.
“In the scenario, our armed forces are on established operating bases with a pervasive enemy in the area,” said Canadian Capt. Robert Hastings, 18th MNB battle captain. “Our mission was to combat the enemy and clear the area of threats. All the partner nations came together as one in the (multinational) brigade. We are all here with the same intent and mission, so even with some language barriers, we got the mission done.”
The brigade multinational team worked together to control and coordinate their battalions as they fought in simulated battle. Its personnel were responsible for aligning forces to engage enemy threats in reacting to specific incidents, gathering intelligence, resupplying ground forces and even accounting for equipment. The team also reacted to simulated events involving displaced personnel and humanitarian assistance.
“The interoperability of our U.S. forces with these partner countries was truly amazing, and it was the key to mission success here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckenridge, 18th MP Bde. command sergeant major. “Within 48 hours of our arrival and integration with our partner nations, this team was ready to conduct the mission.”
The exercise concluded July 31 with a closing ceremony during which personnel from all participating countries stood together in formations by battalion and brigade, not nationality. As the formation was dismissed and everyone prepared for the journey home, Breckenridge reflected on the exercise.
“It was incredible to see all of these countries come together as quickly as they did and perform this mission,” he said. “Everyone, from our Canadian battle captain to our Ukrainian intelligence officer, did an outstanding job here. It’s great to see such teamwork in such a short period of time.”