HOHENFELS, Germany – U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and Rangers from the Italian Army 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment participated in the Joint Warfighting Assessment April 6-26, 2018 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.
JWA is a signature multinational training event which focuses on joint and multinational interoperability. The exercise provides units with a venue to achieve key training objectives such as force development, readiness and integrating multinational armed forces under one command structure.
The Rangers exercised interoperability with conventional units by falling under U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade.
“We came here to support the 173rd efforts for their portion of the JWA,” said Capt. Kyle Payne, Bravo Company commander, 2nd Ranger Bn. “As a component of their efforts, we conducted light infantry sustained operations at the JMRC against a near-peer opposition force, striking high-payoff targets that would allow the brigade to continue in its efforts to clear its objective across the training area.”
The two units developed their ability to operate with an allied unit while simultaneously integrating special operations forces activities into a larger multinational conventional framework.
The Rangers conducted their planning based on intelligence passed up from U.S. Army Green Berets assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), who worked alongside Macedonian Rangers. Their combined force infiltrated enemy held territory early on in the exercise.
“We went through the entire deliberate planning process for our objectives,” said Payne. “Then we did time sensitive target planning with [4th Alpini], so [after] a couple hours of planning, we're going on an air assault to conduct a raid with them. We primarily focused on destroying and neutralizing high payoff targets for our higher headquarters, which then enables conventional forces to achieve their mission.”
To successfully accomplish their task, the U.S. and Italian Rangers worked together to bring their mission command systems together and streamline the planning process critical to mission success.
“A few years ago, we established the basis to work together, so this has been a good opportunity to increase our sharing of experience with the Rangers,” said Italian Army Lt. Col. Massimiliano Max, commander of the Italian Ranger Bn. “Interoperability between our units is fundamental for us to work together in this environment. From the first day, we exchanged standard operating procedures and our ways of working, and we shared our experiences in order to do everything in the best way possible.”
To ensure mission success, the units placed liaisons throughout the ranks to improve communications.
Captain Walter Haynes, a civil affairs officer with the 2nd Ranger Bn., acted as the liaison to the 173rd Airborne Brigade during JWA.
“We are able to operate ahead of friendly forces and set conditions by getting into contested areas that our conventional force wouldn't be able to do in a timely manner and destroy threats that allow them to mass combat power,” said Haynes. “That is a significant training objective for future real-world contingencies that we don't often get the opportunity to train.”
The two units found their stride early on and combined to make a highly-effective fighting force.
“They fight very much like us, and they have very similar equipment to us, so really beyond the language piece the learning curve was relatively shallow,” said Payne.
The final training event for the Rangers conducted at the end of JWA was multinational airborne operations. The event allowed Rangers from both countries to earn their foreign jump wings--a traditional gesture that symbolizes cohesion between the two units.
“We jump all the time, typically at night with combat equipment out of a C-130 or a C-17, and the Rangers are used to those jumps,” said Payne. “Days like today are unique because we jumped with the soldiers we have been training with the last 10 days, and our bonds are made stronger by that.”
After four days of successful force-on-force action at JMRC, the camaraderie and mutual respect between the two units were high following the conclusion of JWA.
“The fight went well,” said Max. “We have been very impressed by the ability of the 75th to move during the night to the objective and to be aggressive.”
“We don't always get opportunities like this in training environments, especially to work with European [allies],” said Payne. “In the end, it was a phenomenal opportunity for our guys to see their tactics, and for us to share techniques with their teams.”