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U.S., partner countries enhance interoperability during Swift Response

By Cpl. Tristin Maximilian June 21, 2018

LAND FORCES TRAINING CENTER DRAWSKO, Poland -- National Guard soldiers assigned to the 143rd Airborne Infantry Battalion joined the 173rd Airborne Brigade in exercise Swift Response in Poland this year.

The Swift Response series of exercises are conducted annually to train and validate what is known as the Global Response Force and have been very successful in both enhancing interoperability between U.S. allies and regional partners.

As in past iterations, ground and air forces worked together to strengthen the development of joint leaders and teams across all layers of the battle-space.

The joint effort between the units is part of a relatively new program called the Associated Units Pilot Program. The association offers new training for both reserve and active components of the Army. The AUP Program is a multi-year test of a new concept to increase readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force.

"It's been a really great experience for us," said Spc. Marcus Mantano, a team leader assigned to the 143rd Airborne Battalion. "We've been able to pull in a lot more talent from the active duty side. It's improved our training value and training rotation as we are doing more intense high-tempo training."

This is the second time the unit has participated in an overseas exercise with the 173rd Brigade Combat Team.

During the exercise, the unit conducted an airborne insertion with the Polish army, Italian Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Force.

"Being [a Guardsman] is a good opportunity, and we get good training," said Spc. Ethan Kryla, an infantryman assigned to the 143rd Airborne Battalion. "I got to be attached to the Italians, and they are a very professional unit."

Multinational exercises enhance interoperability among nations, as service members from the Israel Defense Force and U.S. Army experienced. .

"It's great. We learn a lot from each other," said Maj. Amir Puri, a platoon commander in the IDF. "We have learned how to organize better in a platoon during a fight.

Mantano says that he took the skills he learned from Saber Guardian 17 to apply them here on how to effectively give and receive information. Thus far, he says, it has worked out here at Swift Response.

"While sitting in [our aircraft], we literally broke bread with the Israelis, which was a great honor and a pretty cool experience," said Mantano. "It's not something that I expected that I'll ever be able to do."

As the units waited for their Chinooks to arrive, they shared food, music, and stories.

Another focus of these multinational exercises is to develop cohesion and camaraderie among allies and to create opportunities for each partner nation to achieve mission goals.

"I feel like the Americans are like our big brothers," said Puri. "Getting to serve alongside with [Americans] is something I will take with me for the rest of my life."

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