IZMIR, Turkey — Crawl, walk, run is the progression the U.S. Army uses as it’s training philosophy, and at EFES 16 the U.S., Turkish and seven other partner nations are off and running.
The Turkish national exercise, that began May 4, is being held as a mutlinational event for the first time this year, including about 7,000 service members from the U.S. Army and Navy, Azerbaijan, England, Germany, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
As the nations participate in joint training exercises, learn each other’s tactics, and strengthen their ability to operate together, the complexity of their operations increase. This week they set a milestone by participating in the first ever multinational Amphibious and Air Assault operations to combine all the participating nations during EFES.
“I hope they are learning as much as we are from them about how to communicate and maneuver in a diverse task organization with a dynamic mission set,” said U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Westcott, the Commander of A Company, 54th Engineer Battalion, 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).
During both the Amphibious and Air Assault operations, the engineers’ mission was to clear mine and wire obstacles for armor and dismounted infantry elements.
“These operations show the larger NATO force what U.S. engineering capabilities bring to the fight,” said Westcott.
During the amphibious operation the U.S. Soldiers have two elements. The first used bangalore explosives to clear wire obstacles on the beach for the second element that arrived on beach aboard Turkish Armored Personnel Carriers that were delivered ashore by Turkish Navy ships.
“We’re working with nations we have never worked with before, seeing new faces and how they operate,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alex Cansler, a Platoon Leader with the engineer company.
For the Air Assault the engineers had a similar mission, but different ride to it.
They boarded Turkish Cougar helicopters along with their partners from the German and Polish infantry units. They dismounted the helicopters and breached obstacles for the German infantry to continue toward their objective. After both elements completed their breaching missions they fell back to their second task, fighting as infantrymen to help the battalion close with and destroy the enemy.
“Most the time you just breach the obstacle,” said Pfc. Tyler Adams, a combat engineer with the 54th, who participated rode on one of the Turkish Navy ships and armored personnel carrier during the Amphibious Assault. “Doing stuff like that makes it more fun. It makes other missions easier because you think, ‘If I did something that different then other new things will be easier,'” said Adams.
Later in the week the two operations will be combined into one larger exercise that will be performed in front of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, and many other dignitaries.