By Sgt. Lianne Hirano | 117TH MOBILE PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT (HAWAII)
PABRADĖ TRAINING CAMP, Lithuania — U.S. Soldiers assigned to Ares Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment (1-66 AR), 3rd Armor Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in Exercise Iron Wolf 22 alongside NATO Allies of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania at Pabradė Training Area, Lithuania, Oct. 23-28, 2022.
Hosted by the Lithuanian Armed Forces Iron Wolf Brigade, this large-scale military exercise operates in conjunction with U.S. and NATO allies, including Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. The exercise drills joint defense tasks that facilitate integrated deterrence along the eastern flank.
“Iron Wolf is a multinational exercise with participants from all across NATO,” said Capt. Mack Azbell, commander of Ares Company, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “The purpose is to validate and approve our interoperability, prove that we can fight together and that we are prepared for any eventuality in an uncertain world.”
During the exercise, Allied units would conduct the integration of assigned formations culminating into a ‘force-on-force’ operation that took place in multiple locations and terrains where units train to fight against each other.
“There are two groups here that are in a simulated combat, the eFP Battlegroup and their opposing forces are being played by the Lithuanian battalion with attachments from the United States, the Czech Republic and the UK,” said Azbell. “We are out here fighting each other, working on our standard operating procedures, battle drills and planning, preparing for the eventuality that we will have to fight together one day.”
The facilitation of communication between elements of separate military organizations to ensure mutual understanding and unity of purpose and action is essential to maintaining synchronization and cohesion on the battlefield.
“The most exciting experience was being able to work with our NATO Allies and to see how the U.S. forces are also able to conduct operations alongside them and working with different liaison officers to be able to translate between the different nations,” said Staff Sgt. Trey D. Wogan, platoon sergeant and tank commander assigned to Ares Company, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “Just to be able to see what our allies are capable of within their combat operations, how we can work with them and use our knowledge and their knowledge to put together to make a stronger alliance was a great learning experience.”
NATO allies learned invaluable skills and tactics from each other during the week-long exercise, building interoperability and unity between Soldiers.
“As a first sergeant, the most educational part of this was seeing how the noncommissioned officer system worked for different armies,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Navarro, first sergeant of Ares Company, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. “It opened up my eyes and my perspective about a few leadership changes that I want to implement in my formation to include more open communication with our lower echelon leaders.”
Engagement simulations and training enables the U.S. and NATO allies critical problem-solving skills and tactical synchronization to quickly react, adapt and overcome challenges when transitioning from training to conflict.
“Our partnership with our NATO allies has been great and the communication has been outstanding,” said Navarro. “Our Lithuanian counterparts as well as our Czech and English counterparts facilitated and made a great effort to integrate the Americans and our forces into their planning process.”
The Iron Wolf exercise is designed to evaluate the readiness to plan and conduct military operations of the battlegroup together with one of the Brigade’s Lithuanian battalions.
“It was a good exercise, many lessons have been identified, which have to be turned into lessons learned,” said Lithuanian Lt. Col. Darius Žūkas, commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Algirdas Battalion. “Thank you for your performance, good fight, good spirit, and good tactical decisions.”
Familiarization with Allied Nations’ tactics, assets, equipment and military doctrine fosters interoperability among U.S. and NATO partners.
“Because we are NATO, we come to fight together and train together in order to be successful in a battle,” said Žūkas.
Through critical exercises and engagements such as Iron Wolf, the U.S. Army and NATO allies secure the framework for a strong deterrence and defense posture.
“It’s understood by our Soldiers, by our allies, by the Lithuanian people, by all NATO, that us being here is a very clear deterrent and I believe our purpose has been achieved,” said Azbell. “We’re going to continue to stay here and show that we are resolved to work together and if necessary, fight together.”