CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait, Dec. 27, 2016 —
More than 200 U.S. and Kuwaiti service members carried out a simulated mass ground and air assault against a mock enemy during Operation Lightning Eagle on the Udairi Training Range earlier this month.
Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and Kuwaiti Land and Air forces came together for this combined arms live-fire exercise to test the efficiency of their forces abilities to identify and eliminate an enemies’ anti-aircraft capabilities while maneuvering effectively as a multinational element.
“It feels a lot like Christmas,” Said Lt. Col. Mark Paczynski, commander of the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.
The attack element, comprised of about 30 M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, two Kuwaiti AH-64 Apache helicopters, several Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles, scout sniper teams, mortar and artillery fire, assaulted and destroyed the enemy positions within minutes.
Organizers and planners from both countries worked jointly for nearly three months to coordinate the training for the event.
Paczynski likened the immense planning and coordination to buying gifts for the holidays and seeing them all unwrapped quickly. “We were able to execute the whole operation in about 25 minutes,” said Paczynski.
For many service members, this was their first opportunity to work alongside their Kuwaiti counterparts.
“It’s pretty exciting to get this training opportunity to work side by side with the Kuwaitis and see that they’re not that different from us” said Pfc. Keymy Vasquez, an M1 armor crewman with 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment.
The 3rd ABCT, part of U.S. Army Centrals contingency force, has been deployed for nearly 7 months and have taken part in numerous multinational training engagements.
“If the day comes where we have to fight together, its exercises like this that go a long way to prepare our armies,” said Paczynski.