Exercise Swift Response 22
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley
June 10, 2022
U.S. and NATO allies took part in Exercise Swift Response 2022, which is an annual multinational training exercise that was held from May 2-22, 2022 throughout Eastern Europe, the Arctic High North, Baltics and Balkans.
The purpose of Exercise Swift Response is to build Military Strategic Readiness in support of NATO defense strategy/deterrence objectives and to enhance relationships and interoperability with partners and allies. This exercise includes approximately 9,000 participants from 17 Allied and partner nations that take place at locations in Norway, Latvia, Lithuania and North Macedonia.
Maj. Gen. Peter B. Andrysiak, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, third from the left, is met by Maj. Brent Stolzoff, officer in charge of the medical portion of Joint Forcible Entry Norway during Swift Response 22, from 16th Sustainment Brigade, prior to a guided tour during Swift Response 2022 at the Hollander drop zone, Norway on May 10, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Mort)
“U.S. Army Europe and Africa units routinely conduct exercises with European Allies and partners in the European theater,” stated the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) Public Affairs (ECPA) and the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs (OASD/PA). “Swift Response is conducted annually and has been very successful in both enhancing interoperability between Allies and regional partners, and improving joint operational capability across a variety of mission sets.”
Across the European theater various units from U.S. and NATO allies completed many missions, from Air Assault Operations, Airborne Operations, Airstrip seizures and much more. The 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team was one of many units to experience training alongside NATO allies beginning in Latvia.
“The unit is eager to participate in swift response not only to experience the exercise but to learn from other NATO allies,” stated 1st Lt. Hector Perez, 2-503rd “The Rock”, 173rd Airborne IBCT based in Vicenza, Italy. “To experience their culture, to experience and see how they fight and how they think not only in a tactical manner but in an operational manner.”
While some training varied country to country due to weather and terrain, units were still able to adapt and work together with NATO allies and partners. While in Norway, many other forces were able to take part in a Norwegian foot march which required each participant to complete a 18.6 mile ruck march with a 25 lb. ruck sack in 4 hours and 30 minutes or less.
Paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Airborne) prepare to step off for a Norwegian Foot March during Exercise Swift Response 2022 at Lake Altevatnet, Norway on May 15, 2022. The Norwegian Foot March is an 18.6 mile foot march completed while carrying a 25 pound rucksack. The Paratroopershad to get to the finish line in 4 hours. For those who completed the event they earned the Norwegian Foot March pin. (U.S. Army photo by Spc Kendall Lewis, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)
“Norwegian military members will host these events in the U.S. and U.S. military bases, but to get to do it in Norway is a real honor,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Sutherland, who is assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. “The Norwegians have been amazing hosts to us, we hope someday we can return the favor if they come to the U.S.”
In addition to completing various missions, in North Macedonia, U.S. and NATO partners found different ways to directly connect the military and the local civilian population. A static air display drew in crowds of over 30,000 people to view U.S. and NATO aircrafts up close and to observe a fly-over by An A-10C Thunderbolt II Aircraft from the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard.
“The static air display was one of the best experiences in my entire military career,” remarked Sgt. Jack Trapp, an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Repairer assigned to the 7-17th Air Cavalry Squadron, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade. “I got the opportunity to not only speak with the local nationals here in North Macedonia, but also with operators and maintainers of various aircrafts in the NATO forces; The best part was getting to sit down with the youth and the families and civilians of North Macedonia.”
U.S. and NATO allies utilized CH-47 Chinooks from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade for an Air Assault Operation during DV-Day as part of Exercise Swift Response on May 12, 2022 at Krivolak Training Area, North Macedonia. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley, 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)
While Exercise Swift Response was conducted throughout various countries and executed by service members from a multitude of regions, they were able to accomplish many common goals together.
“It was a great proof of concept that NATO allies can rapidly deploy and work together in an unknown environment,” stated Ljupcho Andreevski, Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Skopje, North Macedonia and Planner for Swift Response 22. “Besides being a great training event, SR22 sent a message of NATO readiness, interoperability, and unity to work as one.”
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