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Lariat Response

In June 2000, for the first time ever, American soldiers conducted an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise with a NATO partner, Hungary. Troops from the Southern European Task Force and 1st Armored Division were the main forces for exercise Lariat Response in Kecskemet, Hungary, from June 22-26. 1st Armored Division arrived on 23 June, securing the airfield and preparing for joint training with their Hungarian counterparts. The historic training began in the afternoon of June 22, as a company of soldiers from 173rd Airborne Brigade, Southern European Task Force, jumped onto the Kecskemet Air Base. After the successful jump and landing of all the soldiers, they headed to nearby Taborfalva Training Area for air assault training mission with Hungarian soldiers.

The first two days of Lariat Response tested and demonstrated the ability of SETAF and 1st Armored Division to deploy rapidly and be ready for combat. With the support of V Corps units, 12th Aviation Brigade and 30th Medical Brigade, and the Air Force's 86th Airlift Wing, SETAF successfully brought in its light forces to secure the area and were followed by the heavier combat forces from the 1st Armored Division. During the final two days of the exercise, American and Hungarian soldiers will work more closely together. American and Hungarian soldiers plan to jump together from American UH-60 helicopters at Kecskemet Air Base. The American soldiers plan to stay close with the Hungarian units and conduct tactical infantry training with Hungarian rapid reaction and reconnaissance forces.

In 1999 the Army announced its intent to be able to put a combat-capable brigade anywhere in the world in 96 hours. At about the same time, the staff of US Army, Europe, was working on a very similar goal of its own. During the summer of 2001, the concept became an airborne, airland reality. During June's Exercise Lariat Response, the largest power-projection exercise of its kind to date, USAREUR deployed almost a brigade's worth of combat power from bases in Germany and Italy to an objective in Hungary. The elapsed time from the initial alert to closure on the objective: just over 96 hours.

The exercise, part of the USAR-EUR Emergency Readiness Deployment Exercise training cycle, began with a warning order to plan and eventually deploy forces. The exercise training scenario focused on assistance to a friendly country's armed forces against hostile rebels bent on seizing the country. When the deployment order came, forces from the Southern European Task Force's 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, secured the Kecskemet Air Base in Hungary following an early morning airborne drop.

Meanwhile, aircraft carrying the Medium Ready Company from the 1st Infantry Division waited for the signal that the runway had been cleared and the airfield secured. By the end of the first day, aircraft from Germany, Italy and Charleston, S.C., had flown 25 sorties, shuttling more than 700 soldiers and airmen, 40 wheeled and armored vehicles, and 20 aircraft into Kecskemet. It was the first time USAREUR had ever deployed tanks and Bradleys with the IRF, using C-17 aircraft from Air Mobility Command to land them in Hungary. The armored vehicles add a powerful dimension of lethality to an already agile force.

With an Immediate Ready Company from the 173rd Abn. Bde. forming the nucleus of the IRF, the USAREUR staff designed force enhancement modules that add different dimensions and capabilities to the force. Increased communications capabilities, military police augmentation, scout enhancements, and combat forces in the form of light and heavy armor are only a few of the FEMs that have been designed for the IRF. The modules are then added to the force as needed, based on the mission.

While testing the capabilities of the USAREUR IRF was an integral part of Lariat Response, there was another dimension to the exercise with equal importance: engagement training with NATO partners. Throughout the exercise, IRF units executed a variety of missions with the Hungarians, who were admitted into the NATO alliance in 1999. The 173rd's Company A, 1st Bn., 502nd Infantry Regiment, teamed up with the Hungarian army's 34th Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon to attack and destroy an "enemy" communications network near the city of Tapolca. Training to fight together in urban settings, the units capped their operation with a daylong, live-fire exercise. Task Force 1-63 Armor from the 3rd Bde., 1st Inf. Div., teamed up with recon forces from the Hungarian 1st Cavalry Regt. in a combined arms live-fire exercise at the Taborfalva range complex. Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, M113 armored personnel carriers, Hungarian scout vehicles and soldiers from both armies joined to fight a final battle against the "rebel" armored brigade. Simultaneously, 50 kilometers away, American and Hungarian paratroopers jumped from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Soldiers and airmen of U.S. Army, Europe and U.S. Air Forces, Europe deploy to Hungary on 08 June 2001 for a deployment readiness exercise called Lariat Response. The largest power projection exercise of its kind to date, Lariat Response was designed to test the capabilities of the USAREUR Immediate Ready Force (IRF). The force numbered nearly 700 soldiers and airmen, 40 wheeled and armored vehicles, and 20 aircraft, deploying simultaneously from Germany and Italy to Kecskemet Air Base in Hungary. It will be the first time USAREUR has ever deployed tanks with the IRF, using C-17 aircraft to land them in Hungary.

Lariat Response involved units from the U.S. Army Europe's Southern European Task Force (SETAF) and V (Fifth) Corps. Stateside and European-based assets of the U.S. Air Force, as well as USAREUR's 29th Support Group, assisted these units in their deployment.

During the exercise, units from the 21st Theater Support Command and the 86th Airlift Wing worked with elements of Southern European Task Force to test U.S. Army Europe's quick response capabilities. Troops began moving equipment for the exercise on June 3. Essential to the success of Lariat Response is Task Force 191-- composed of elements from the 191st Ordnance Battalion, 51st Maintenance Battalion, 95th Military Police Battalion, and other 21st TSC units. Some of the things the Task Force will provide are air-drop services, shipping services, soldier and equipment processing, and all types of supplies.

Forces participating in the exercise include elements of SETAF's 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy; V Corps and the 1st Infantry Division, based in Germany; and Special Operations Command, Europe (SOCEUR). U.S. Air Force aircraft and crews came from Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Aviano Air Base, Italy; and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., with U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters deploying from Germany.

During the exercise, soldiers and airmen trained together and with counterparts from the Hungarian Armed Forces. Training events include weapons familiarization, live fire exercises, joint patrols, night vision equipment familiarization training, airland operations and airborne operations. The exercise will promote integration of USAREUR's heavy and light ready forces, increase Army and Air Force interoperability, and strengthen existing training relationships with the Hungarian Armed Forces.

Commanding the exercise forces is Army Col. James C. Yarbrough, Commander of SETAF's 173rd Airborne Brigade. USAREUR Commanding General, Gen. Montgomery Meigs, is the overall commander of USAREUR's Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise program. The exercise ran through June 12th when forces began redeploying back to their home stations.

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