TAPA, Estonia | The U.S. Army prides itself on being able to respond with no notice to potential global threats. For the Soldiers of the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, that kind of decisive action was recently put to the test during a rapid response readiness exercise in eastern Europe.
After being given less than 48-hours notice, the “Blue Babe” Soldiers of the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion tested their unit’s ability to operate, move and communicate by transporting their equipment and Soldiers over 1,500 miles to conduct training operations in Estonia Mar. 5-14, 2018.
“We can flex the capabilities of the Dagger Brigade to any NATO nation,” said 1st Lt. Nate Hinesley, a platoon leader with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion. “We demonstrated commitment to both to our allies and to potential adversaries that we can get to where we say we can get, and do what we say we can do when we get there.”
The mission for the Fort Riley, Kansas-based Soldiers required them to assemble and relocate Nuclear, Biological, Chemical reconnaissance vehicles, as well as other essential military equipment, across several countries. For this to work, the Soldiers had to communicate efficiently with both U.S. and civilian logistical personnel.
Hinesley, a Chardon, Ohio native who has been leading the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion Soldiers throughout the exercise, said that he credits the mission’s success to his hardworking Soldiers and their allies.
“My Soldiers always go above and beyond to make sure they do what it takes to keep us mission capable,” said Hinesley. “Without them we would never have been able to do this mission, and our Allies wasted no time in making sure we could get up here (Estonia) quickly and allowing us to best demonstrate our capabilities. They did a great job integrating and accommodating us to make sure we meet the training objectives.”
Once the Soldiers arrived in Estonia, Estonian soldiers operating as liaisons met with the U.S. troops to help coordinate the final steps of the multinational equipment transport, and to help plan the following days of operations during the U.S. Soldiers’ mission.
“Cooperation between our militaries isn’t just something we like to talk about; for us, it is something we always do to the best of our ability,” said Estonian Jr. Sgt. Sander Palm, an enhanced forward presence liaison with the 1st Infantry Brigade. “By doing that we help tell the world that we are ready to make our relationship stronger for NATO and the defense of Europe.”
The U.S. Soldiers conducted their training operations at Estonia’s NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group.
The battle group is part of a unique collection of NATO allies who are deployed for the defense of allies and deterrence of aggression in Eastern Europe. The “Blue Babe” Soldiers trained alongside British, Estonian, and Danish troops, who are all deployed with the battle group.
“Estonians, Americans, Danish .... this training helps to show that all of the members of NATO fit together likes pieces of a puzzle,” said Palm, who is also a Soldier with Estonia’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group. “We can show the world that the picture that puzzle makes is that of the clear and defensible [nature] of NATO.”
The U.S. Soldiers are deployed as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. commitment to the collective security of Europe through the deployment of rotational U.S. forces in cooperation with NATO allies and partner nations.
“I feel like we are playing a big role here,” said Spc. Anthony Yang, a San Diego, California native and a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion. “We have a chance for everyone in Europe to be able to see what we are capable of doing; not only as the U.S. Army but as Soldiers helping to defend our allies.”