Between 15th January and 4th of February 2022 Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22 took place at the Hohenfels Training Area in southern Germany, reports Carl Schulze.
A-Days to R-Days ~ the Phases of the Exercise: ALLIED SPIRIT 22 was divided in four main phases, starting with the A-Days (Arrival Days, 15-18 January) during which the participating forces deployed to the Hohenfels Training Area and Operational Orders (OPORD) as well as Fragmentary Orders (FRAGO) for the upcoming tactical phase were given. As part of this phase various Combat Enhancement Training (CET) and Force Integration Training (FIT) activities were also conducted.
Next followed the D-Days (19-21 January) that saw the forces taking to the field on the Hohenfels Training Area in Bavaria, including their deployment to assembly areas and battle positions. During the D-Days the headquarters at all levels also went through the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP).
The actual force-on-force tactical training phase took place during the X-Days (22-31 January). In this period the multinational brigade-size force, led by the HQ of the Latvian Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde, a mechanised infantry brigade, had to initially fight a delaying action, then a defensive battle, and finally on the last day launch a counter-attack. The enemy during this phase was provided by the 1st Battalion, 4th US Infantry Regiment, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s in-house opposing force (OPFOR) – the Men In Black.
Finally the R-Days (Reverse RSOI / AARS) saw the participating force going through the Reverse Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (RSOI) process while beginning their deployment back home. This phase also included After Action Reviews at all levels, conducted by the Observer Controller / Trainer (OC/T) Teams of the JMRC.
Participating Forces: Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22 saw the participation of troops from 15 nations, namely: Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The largest contingents were provided by Latvia (3,000), Germany (1,500) and the USA. (1000).
As already mentioned in our intro, the HQ of the German 1. Panzer Division served as high command during the exercise. Based in Oldenburg, this division is one of only two armoured divisions of the German Army; it’s commander is Brigadier General Heico Hübner. For the headquarters of the division the exercise was an important step on its way to achieving its national combat readiness certification in 2023, from when it again will be fully available as headquarters of a multinational force for high intensity war fighting operations as part of NATO’s collective defence.
During the exercise at Hohenfels the HQ was in charge of three combat brigades and an Aviation Task Force. Two of these brigades participated in Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22 only in the form of a Computer Assisted Exercise (CAX) type of training; namely these were the 43 Gemechaniseerde Brigade (a mechanised brigade) of the Netherlands Koninklijke Landmacht, which is an integrated part of the German 1. Panzer Division, and the 132a Brigata Corazzata ‘Ariete’ (an armoured brigade) of the Esercito Italiano. Attached under command of the Italian brigade was the UK’s 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, which only participated with its HQ team.
The third brigade was the Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde (a mechanised infantry brigade) from Latvia. This brigade is the only major combat asset of the Latvian Land Forces and its home base is Ādaži, situated to the north-east of Riga. During the exercise the brigade was in charge of combat forces not just from Latvia but also from several other nations.
¤ At a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) on the Hohenfels Training Area AH-6E Apache Guardian attack helicopters of the Aviation Task Force are refuelled [© Carl Schulze]
The Aviation Task Force was centred around the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade of the 1st US Cavalry Division, out of Fort Hood Texas. It included assets from all elements of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and its helicopter inventory during the exercise numbered seven AH-6E Apache Guardian attack helicopters, five UH-60L utility helicopters, three UH-60M Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopters and two CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters.
Multinational Forces under Latvian Command: During the exercise the Latvian Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde was in charge of the following formations or elements:-
- Mehanizētās Kājnieku Brigādes Štāba un Sakaru Rota: the Headquarters and Signal Company of the Latvian brigade.
- Spanish Military Police Platoon.
- Hungarian Military Police Platoon.
- 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons: a Mechanised Infantry Battalion of the Latvian brigade, equipped with vehicles of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) or CVR(T) family, including the FV103 Spartan armoured personnel carrier, FV104 Samaritan armoured ambulance, FV105 Sultan armoured command post vehicle, FV106 Samson armoured recovery vehicle and FV107 Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle. This battalion was reinforced by a Lithuanian infantry company, mounted on Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG trucks.
- Panzer Grenadier Bataillon 401: a German armoured infantry battalion of Panzer grenadier brigade 41 of the 1. Panzer Division, equipped with Schützenpanzer Marder 1A3 armoured infantry fighting vehicles. For the exercise this battalion was reinforced by a Polish tank company equipped with Leopard 2A4 tanks of the 1 Batalion Czołgów of 10 Brygada Kawalerii Pancernej.
- 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment ‘Burt’s Knights’: An armoured battalion of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) of the 1st Infantry Division ‘The Big Red One’ of the US Army which took part with its Headquarter and Headquarters Company, two tank companies (A Coy and B Coy equipped with M1A2 SEP (V2) Abrams Main Battle Tanks) and its assigned Forward Support Companies (FSC). One of the two tank companies was reinforced by an Italian tank platoon of the 132a Brigata Corazzata ‘Ariete’ armoured brigade equipped with four C1 Ariete main battle tanks.
- Artillerie Lehr Bataillon 325: A German artillery battalion which provided indirect fire support to the brigade. It participated in the exercise with its headquarters, its headquarters and support battery, its artillery reconnaissance battery and one gun battery equipped with Panzerhaubitze 2000A2 self-propelled howitzers. Under command of this battalion were also the gun battery of the Latvian Kaujas Atbalsta Bataljons, equipped with 155mm M109A5Ö self-propelled howitzers, and a US Army artillery battery of the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) equipped with 155mm M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzers.
- Aufklärungs Bataillon 6: A German reconnaissance battalion which served as eyes and ears of the multinational Latvian lead brigade. It took part in the exercise with its headquarters, its headquarters and support company and one reconnaissance company equipped with Spähwagen Fennek wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicles. Assigned to this battalion were a Latvian reconnaissance company and a Portuguese section equipped with UAVs.
- Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC): Formed by elements of the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion of the US Army and also including Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) personnel from Hungary and Spain.
- Electronic Warfare Company: 102 Elektronische Oorlogvoering Compagnie of the of the Koninklijke Landmacht of the Netherlands
- Engineer Support Assets: Provided by the engineer company of the Latvian Kaujas Atbalsta Bataljons, a Lithuanian engineer company, the 112 Pantser Genie Compagnie of the 11 Pantser genie bataljon and B Company of the 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion (1BEB) of the US 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). Heavy equipment of the various engineer units included US Army M1074 Joint Assault Bridge Systems (JABS) and M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV), as well as Dutch Kodiak armoured engineer vehicles.
- Air Defence: Consisting of two Latvian platoons equipped with Stinger MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) and RBS 70 (Robotsystem 70) MANPADS, as well as a section from the 5th Battalion, US 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, equipped with AN/TWQ-1 Avenger Air Defense System.
- Multinational Combat Service Support Battalion: Centred around the Kaujas Nodrošinājuma Bataljons of the Latvian mechanised brigade, the formation included the German 4. Kompanie, Versorgungs Bataillon 142 logistic company, as well as an American Combat Service Support Company.
- Multinational Medical Battalion: Centred around the Sanitätsstaffel Einsatz Torgelow medical squadron, the formation also involved medical assets of the US Army such as the 557th Medical Company (Area Support).
While the Latvian troops taking part in the exercise almost all originated from the Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde, the German personnel participating in the exercise mostly belonged to organic units of the 1. Panzer Division. Most of the participating US troops are deployed to Europe under the current Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE rotation and originated from the 1st Cavalry Division ‘First Team’ and 1st Infantry Division ‘The Big Red One’.
We plan to briefly look at the Aviation Task Force in a future feature.
[images © Carl Schulze]
- See also:- Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22 ~ An Introduction