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Third Army partners with Kazakhstan Army during Steppe Eagle

Sep 16, 2009

By Sgt. Beth Lake, Third Army/U.S. Army Central Public Affairs

In keeping with its mission to shape the future, Soldiers from Third Army/U.S. Army Central are working alongside representatives from the United States, Kazakhstan, and British Armies during the multinational exercise, Steppe Eagle, which began Sept. 14.

Kazakhstan minister of defense, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, officially opened the exchange, emphasizing the important role it plays. "This exercise will considerably increase the level of regional security and capability in our armed forces," Dzhaksybekov said.

"Steppe Eagle is in its seventh year and is military exercise designed to improve the participants' operational capabilities, combat readiness, and ability to conduct peace support operations as part of internationally sanctioned multinational operations," U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Richard Hoagland, said as he welcomed participants to the exercise. "I look forward to what I know will be an extremely rewarding and successful exercise for the warriors of KAZBRIG, Seventh Rifles Regiment, the Puerto Rico National Guard, NATO and U.S. Army Central."

One of the goals of this year's Steppe Eagle is to assist the Kazakh military as it works towards NATO certification, said Lt. Col. Dave Horn, Third Army/USARCENT Central and South Asia team chief and deputy exercise director for Steppe Eagle.

Robert Simmons, special representative to the General Secretary of NATO, touched on this during his opening comments.

"It permits the elements of the army of Kazakhstan to work with and to in fact operate with forces of allied countries in particular with the United Kingdom and the United States so that they are truly interoperable," Simmons said.

"Third Army's role in Steppe Eagle is to provide a military decision making process information exchange to the Kazakh brigade and two battalions of the KAZBRIG, their air mobile force," Horn said. "Our goal is to assist them in becoming interoperable with the NATO force and eventually deploy with a NATO force."

Horn explained that the KAZBRIG's 1st Battalion went through a NATO exercise last year and will be doing a follow-on exercise next year. This year's Steppe Eagle is also working with 2nd Battalion and the brigade headquarters, KAZBRIG. A third battalion will stand up in the future.

"The culmination of this year's Steppe Eagle will be the self-evaluation of the 2nd Battalion of KAZBRIG - an extremely important element in our efforts to ensure that KAZBRIG is combat ready and deployable in order to support our mutual goals, but more importantly the strategic interests of Kazakhstan as well as its allies and partners," Hoagland said.

In addition to their work towards future NATO certification, Hoagland left participants with an important message about the impact Steppe Eagle will have on them.

"You are a reflection of the commitment of our nations to develop and enhance our mutual cooperation and understanding," Hoagland said. "You are a team that shares the common bonds of a warrior culture. You have shared the field of battle as comrades-in-arms in Iraq, and may soon do so again as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan."

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