ZLOCIENIEC, Poland – Six members of the Indiana National Guard worked shoulder to shoulder with their Slovak armed forces counterparts while participating in Operation Anakonda 2016.
Anakonda ’16 was among U.S. Army Europe’s premier training events for the year. It is an exercise designed to strengthen military cooperation, cohesion and interoperability among participating nations.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, U.S. Army Europe commander said the exercise demonstrates American commitment to the region.
“There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind about the commitment of the United States in the security and stability in Europe,” said Hodges. “We have committed a large number of Soldiers and capabilities to include a significant number of our reserve component Soldiers and our National Guard soldiers from the states to participate in this exercise.”
Members of the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division staff represented elements of the fires, intelligence, mission command, maneuver and sustainment warfighting functions.
Lt. Col. Jens Pedersen, 38th Infantry Division logistics management officer, commented on the strategic value of the State Partnership Program.
“By being integrated into the Slovak 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade staff, we were able to learn from each other and share experiences and expertise.”
They worked in unison with the Slovak Armed Forces, through the State Partnership Program, to test and evaluate a headquarters reaction, and methods of battle pertaining to its management and execution abilities, through a virtual battlefield.
Brig. Gen. Martin Stoklasa, commander of the Slovak 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, highlighted the significance of Anakonda ’16 and what it means for the Indiana-Slovak partnership.
“I am very happy with how well we combined our skills together and focused on each section. There are many moving parts throughout the exercise, and we all integrated seamlessly to accomplish one mission.”
Anakonda ’16 hosted more than 31,000 troops from more than 20 nations. This further validates American, allied and partner defense capabilities to deploy, mass and sustain combat power.
The State Partnership Program has been successfully building relationships for 20-plus years that includes 70 unique security partnerships involving 76 nations around the globe. The SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense – a state’s National Guard – with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
Indiana and Slovakia have had a long and enduring partnership going back well over 20 years to the early 1990s. Operation Anakonda offered a unique opportunity for both partners to work closely together in a decisive action training environment.
By SSG Jeremiah A. Runser