US Army

NATO allies, partners call cohesive multi-domain
exercise a success

By Sgt. Zoe Morris

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Hough

Sgt. Casey Trull, a U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, fires upon opposing forces
with a recoilless 84mm anti-tank weapon during a training exercise as a part of Allied Spirit 24 near Hohenfels, Germany.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Hough)

When pursuing total-force readiness in a multinational environment, Army doctrine must survive across all barriers down to a tactical level, allowing for a blending of procedures, technology and cognitive approaches to operations. Military exercises such as Allied Spirit give commanders a practical field in which to test this survivability, hone in on combat preparedness and ready units for the future fight.

Allied Spirit 24 was a large-scale U.S. Army exercise that strengthened deterrence initiatives by testing interoperability between more than 6,500 participants from NATO Allies and partners. Force-on-force operations ran March 9-17, hosted by the 7th Army Training Command at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany as part of the U.S. Department of Defense's Large Scale Global Exercise 2024.

“Very rarely at a U.S. Army combat training center do we have a training audience that's 80 percent NATO Allies and 20 percent U.S. Soldiers,” said 7ATC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Steven Carpenter. “The Bundeswehr [German Army] is an exceedingly professional force.”

Carpenter said that it's always preferable to work through the complexities of interoperability and teamwork inside a combat environment while at JMRC instead of having the first time be in war, should that occur.

The units were run through tactical tasks in an intense crucible of a competitive event at the Hohenfels Training Area over 60 square miles of hilly terrain, around a thousand structures, 200 miles of road and numerous cross-country trails.

Unlike other U.S. Army Europe and Africa exercises, which feature U.S. brigade combat teams in a lead role augmented by allies and partners, Allied Spirit places an allied unit at the forefront. USAREUR-AF directed combat training for the German Army's 41st Panzergrenadier Brigade, the main training audience for AS24.

Under command of German Army Brig. Gen. Christian Nawrat, the PzGrenBrig 41 used AS24 as continued training for their role in alliance defense under the leadership of the German Army's 1st Armored Division or, at times, higher-level NATO commands. From July 2022 to December 2023, the PzGrenBrig 41 was responsible for providing additional protection for Lithuania in the event of “further escalations surrounding the Russian war of aggression” on Ukraine.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Hough

Members of the German Army's 411th Panzergrenadier Battalion push forward towards the enemy during a training exercise as a part of Allied Spirit 24 near Hohenfels, Germany. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Hough)

“Such experiences [like Allied Spirit] now obviously help us at all levels — from the command post of my brigade staff to the individual soldier,” said Nawrat.

German Army Sgt. 1st Class Malte Flint, 325th Field Artillery Battalion, PzGrenBde 41, served as an observer coach/trainer during AS24 — finding the connection between American OC/Ts and his German battalion, testing their interoperability and comparing standard operating procedures.

Flint, who previously participated in the NATO-led Exercise Trident Junction 18, said that it's quite interesting how experiencing these exercises help soldiers connect everything together.

“You see, 'Where are your gaps?' Where are their gaps?' and you compare and find solutions so that we get better,” Flint said. “But it's in a NATO way, we're working together in NATO, so that's interesting.”

The training objectives and related tasks are built to reveal these gaps in interoperability, giving commanders the opportunity to close those gaps.

“I think these kinds of exercises are, at the moment, very important,” said German Army Master Sgt. Frank B. “It's important that we get used to this kind of defense of our countries again … and if you see the world now, it's absolutely necessary to have these exercises.”

Leaders with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, serving as the AS24 high command and control, also stressed how important understanding partner force capabilities and doctrine is in shaping the fight.

“At the end of the day, the threat is very real and it's been growing since we've been over here,” said 82nd Airborne Chief of Staff Col. Liz Curtis.

“We understand how important this is to the total Alliance and this commitment of the U.S. and all the NATO Allies,” Curtis said. “We know we will never fight alone, so this is exactly what we need to continue that relationship.”

The U.S. Army considers improving multinational force interoperability with allies and partners a high priority enhancing the Army's readiness to fight and win.

With the recent accession of Sweden, the NATO alliance is 32 nations strong. NATO's ability to respond to crisis and conflict does not depend on any one nation, but the strength and solidarity of all members.

“The strategic relationship between the U.S. and NATO forged throughout the past seven decades is built upon a foundation of shared values, experiences and vision,” said Carpenter. “Now, more than ever, this shared resolve is absolutely critical; Allied Spirit is a strong symbol of that ongoing relationship.”

AS24 participating countries include Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

U.S. Army units participating include, the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Liberty, North Carolina; the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia; the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas; the 4th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, Fort Carson, Colorado; Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations teams, U.S. Army Reserve; the 919th Ground Ambulance Company, U.S. Army Reserve, the 700th Brigade Support Battalion, Oklahoma Army National Guard and the 153rd Public Affairs Detachment, West Virginia Army National Guard.

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