AZ Guard Soldiers participate in multi-national training exercise

AZ Guard Soldiers participate in multi-national training exercise

Arizona National Guard Soldiers patrol the outer-perimeter of a village, on the Stanford Training Area, United Kingdom, during the culminating event of Steppe Eagle 2016, on July 29. Nearly 800 Soldiers from five countries participated in the multi-national exercise that focused on peacekeeping and peace support operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Monette Wesolek)

Wretham, Great Britain - Soldiers from the Arizona Army National Guard spent 15-days training with British, Kazakh, Tajik and Kyrgyz soldiers, at Stanford Training Area in the United Kingdom, during exercise Steppe Eagle 2016.

Members of the 850th Military Police Battalion and a squad of engineers from the 253rd Engineer Battalion departed Arizona mid-July to participate in the annual multinational training exercise focused on peacekeeping and peace support operations.

Soldiers from the five nations worked together to provide support during scenario-based training that placed the participating troops in a notional country that was experiencing unrest and required the support of multinational forces to bring stability to the nation.

“I am certainly confident that the more than 700 Soldiers and officers that have been exercising have been well tested, have learned a huge amount,” said British Army Brig. Gen Martyn Gamble, Commander 160th Infantry Brigade and exercise director for the British Army.

Gamble also observed that this event allowed for increased friendships and relationships between the members of the five participating nations.

In addition to the exercise participants, observers and mentors were also present to provide guidance and feedback following each training scenario.

Army Staff Sgt. Eric Hawes, who spent much of his time mentoring Arizona Soldiers, said the exercise was a great experience.

“It was clearly apparent that [Arizona Guard Soldiers] were ready to take on the challenges of the exercise,“ Hawes said. “They were quick to adapt and learn from each scenario that was thrown their way.”

The culminating event came on July 29, when command representatives from each participating nation arrived to observe the final scenario, a riot and attack in a small village on the training grounds, that utilized elements from each participating nation.

Among the observers were Army Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, Commanding General of U.S. Army Central, the Right Honorable Mike Penning, Britain’s armed forces minister, Erzhan Kazykhanov, Kazakhstani ambassador to the UK, and Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, The Adjutant General, Arizona National Guard.

McGuire said he was pleased to see the partnerships that had grown and the interoperability that was evident during the final event of Exercise Steppe Eagle 2016.

McGuire explained that the Arizona National Guard was partnered with Kazakhstan in 1993 through the State Partnership program, facilitating partnership and capacity building between Kazakhstan and the United States.

He said the Arizona National Guard and the Kazakh Army regularly visit each other’s training sites, building on this partnership, sharing lessons learned, as well as tactics and techniques to better accomplish their goals and missions while increasing the interoperability between the two organizations.

“Exercises like these are an opportunity, for not only our partner nations but for our own Arizona Army National Guard Soldiers, to get some great multi-national training on requirements as they get assigned to different deployments and peace-keeping missions around the world,” McGuire said.

During the closing ceremonies Garrett expressed his gratitude to all the participating nations, stating the value of each partner and emphasizing the impact of the relationships built and expanded upon during the 13th year of the exercises execution.

This was the first time since Steppe Eagle’s inception that the United Kingdom has hosted the training event.