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International Ties: Soldiers Become Guardians of the Black Sea in Multinational Training Exercise

When 25,000 Soldiers from over 20 different nations come together for one mission, one might expect difficulties to arise. From language barriers to varying learning tactics, there are many challenges for Soldiers. But at the annual Saber Guardian training exercise, Guard Soldiers thrived in the high-intensity, multinational environment.

This summer, over 25,000 military personnel from 22 countries participated in Saber Guardian, the largest of 18 training exercises held in the Black Sea Region. The training exercise included 14,000 Soldiers hailing from Army National Guard units from around the country working alongside active duty Soldiers in various exercises throughout Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

Saber Guardian was co-hosted by the Bulgarian, Hungarian and Romanian land force components. Held since 2013, Saber Guardian assures U.S. allies and partners of our commitment to the collective defense and prosperity of the Black Sea Region. Many prepared for the exercise by training online, as well as readying equipment and their state of mind.

“I started preparing for this mission late 2015 at our annual training held in Indiana,” said Georgia Army National Guard Fire Support Specialist SPC Christopher Gyening. “I learned a lot from my leadership; I feel like I have one of the best sections!”

For Georgia Army National Guard Human Resource Specialist SFC Cashina Smith, being personally prepared, along with helping to prepare fellow Soldiers, was a crucial part of her training for Saber Guardian. After receiving intel and training in 2015, SFC Smith felt ready for the exercise.

“I had to prepare myself mentally, but more so I was making sure Soldiers were prepared,” SFC Smith said. “We did get photos of Romania from our S1 section [Advanced Echelon] so we knew what to expect. Our annual training in 2015 at Camp Atterbury was a big part of the preparation.”

Saber Guardian consisted of a command post exercise, computer-assisted exercise, an air defense artillery live fire exercise, several river crossings and a mass casualty exercise. Thanks to the preparation, training and their ability to work together, the Soldiers successfully executed their missions.

“We were responsible for making sure there was a river crossing,” said Specialist Abdoulaye Sidibe, who is a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Specialist. “The mission was complete.”

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