HELENA, Mont. — Exercise Regional Cooperation 23, an annual U.S. Central Command-sponsored exercise, is underway in Helena, Montana. The exercise, this year hosted by the Montana National Guard at the Helena Aviation Readiness Center, kicked off Aug. 8, 2023, and brings together military personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as U.S. personnel from across the nation, including Soldiers and Airmen from the Arizona, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana and Virginia National Guard.
“Regional Cooperation is an unmatched opportunity to strengthen relationships with our partner nations and improve our ability to work together,” said Maj. Stephen Jung, the lead planner for RC23.
During the first several days of the exercise, more than 230 exercise participants gathered at Fort Harrison to establish a base of knowledge on the Military Decision Making Process, or MDMP. Then, on Aug. 12, 2023, the exercise officially started, with U.S. and partner nation personnel working together to respond to an international security threat.
“The goal is for a multinational team to work together and develop a combined military response to the exercise scenarios,” Jung explained.
Over the course of six days, RC23 participants will face scenarios designed to enhance regional security and stability; increase national capabilities; sharpen techniques and procedures for the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist elements and narcotics; and increase interoperability and information sharing.
U.S. and Central and South Asian nations have been involved in the annual RC exercise since 2004.
“This exercise is really about collaboration and building relationships,” Jung said. “When you spend time working alongside military personnel from a partner nation, what you’ll inevitably find is commonalities. My hope is that, when we leave Montana, we all leave with a better understanding of our partnerships, as well as stronger relationships, not only between our military forces at the higher level, but also at the individual level.”