Black Sea Rotational Force 15.2

Platinum Lynx 16-1 – A new multinational Black Sea Rotational Force exercise

Platinum Lynx 16-1 module took place in the garrison of the 17th Dragos Voda Mountain Troops Battalion from Vatra Dornei, where the opening ceremony and part of the workshops within the exercise took place.

This year, a novelty was the participation of 30 Bulgarian soldiers from the 101st Alpine Battalion from Smolian, who joined the 100 Romanian mountain troops and 100 American Marines from the 8th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion from the Corps of US Marines deployed in Europe.

On the first day of the Platinum Lynx 16-2 module, the soldiers of the three nations began training to become familiar with the weapons provided by the partner armies, an opportunity to get to know and shoot with different weapons of the partners. For example, the American Marines could test their shooting skills using rifles and submachine guns used by the Romanian Army, trying to simulate encountering an enemy as close as possible. Likewise, the Romanian Mountain Troops could shoot with American weapons, including learning how to shoot with a rocket launcher.

The second part of the first day was also dedicated to the exchange of experience between the three nations, being shown alternatively different tactical procedures, such as travel formations, fighting in the cities, or rescuing and evacuating an injured person from mountain areas. Also, the Bulgarian and American soldiers were able to see equipment specific to mountain troops, such as climbing gear and the one for traveling in mountain areas, or the MLVM – an armed vehicle specific of mountain troops – and were able to learn about survival techniques used by Romanian soldiers.

The next two days were connected both by the location, the Rotunda Polygon and by the exercises in which the soldiers of the three nations participated. Also, in this part of the exercise, a novelty was marked compared to the previous exercises, namely “incidents”, attacks either on the convoy travelling to the firerage, or on the military teams that chose to march to reach the polygon, or at the camps installed on the Rotunda Plateau.

Thus, the first attack on the column of trucks and cars, jointly rejected by the servicemen of the three nations, also marked the point of separation of the column, some of the soldiers marching towards the polygon, on a ridge route of about 15 km, the rest part continuing the motorized travel and ensuring the security of the equipment and the ammunition.

As expected, the weather conditions played an important role in the realization of the exercise scenarios in the field, the strong fog increasing the importance of communications, an aspect to which the Romanian side still has to learn and apply from the experience of American partners. The importance of communications was seen not only in the teams that chose the march, but also in those that continued the motorized travel. They were attacked twice, and the transmission of orders and reporting the situation in the column that stretched along the mountain valleys could be achieved only through a very well-developed communications system.

After repelling the two attacks and getting close to the firing range, where the soldiers of the three nations regrouped, the camp, observation points and patrols were set up to ensure security over the night. Near midnight, the last incident of the day took place, the attack taking place on the Romanian part of the camp. The mountain troops responded to the attack with MLVMs and then with the soldiers in the field, thus repelling the attack, benefiting from the support of the Bulgarian soldiers, which were located on the flank of the Romanian camp.

The morning also began with an attack on the column of mountain troops moving to the range, which was repulsed by the soldiers in the field with the support of MLVM. Once on the fiere range, the soldiers from the three armies started firing with real ammunition, using all the categories of weapons at the disposal of the troops. Following different scenarios of attack or defense, the soldiers from the three battalions present at the exercise made the most of the training opportunities offered by the polygon, from the relief with valleys and hills, to long shooting distances and the possibility of landing a helicopter to evacuate the wounded.

Throughout the Platinum Lynx training module, the aim was to develop the training of the participating forces and increase the interoperability, an aspect all the more important as the exercise was attended by soldiers from three nations, requiring better collaboration to act uniformly, to overcome language barriers and to unite different ways of acting in the field.

“I believe that the main goal of the exercise, namely to increase the level of military training of the participating personnel has been achieved. I also believe that the objective of increasing the level of interoperability of the structures involved in the exercise has been achieved. The planned exercises took place in very good conditions, the American partner benefiting from the experience of previous participations, in the other two exercises that took place during 2014 in the same area, and although the Bulgarian partners were for the first time on the training grounds of Dorna’s Mountain Troops, they faced all the challenges of this training week, finally managing to be able for all the three participating structures to share their own tactics and procedures for fighting in mountainous terrain.” Colonel Marian Dragomir, commander of the 17th Dragos Voda Mountain Troops Battalion

It was an excellent opportunity for the three nations to meet and prepare together, to implement the partnership between them and to help build the NATO alliance we have with Bulgaria and Romania and the United States. As a Marine unit, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, the Armament Company gained enormously from the opportunity to collaborate with partners in Bulgaria and Romania. There were exchanges from which we learned the “secrets of the trade” from our partners and, in turn, we shared our knowledge, which is a very good thing, because it makes us all better fighters. I was impressed by the strength, endurance and dedication of the Romanian and Bulgarian servicemen, reconfirming, during this exercise, what I had already seen in the theaters of operations where we fought together.” Lieutenant-Colonel Camper Jones, 2nd Battalion Commander, 8th Regiment, US Marine

I think it was extraordinary that we were able to show from the techniques and tactics used by us and that we were able to learn from those of the Bulgarians and Romanians. During the march I was impressed by the fact that we had the three platoons working together as one and the way in which the march was lead by all nations. It was an impressive demonstration of resistance of the Romanian and Bulgarian soldiers, who moved very well in the field, which challenged us to rise to the same level. It is impressive for a soldier to see the strength of another nation’s armed forces and try to learn as much as possible from those soldiers.” Sergeant Major Paul Costa, Commander-in-Chief of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, American Marine Corps

“It was an extraordinary exercise because it was a very good opportunity for the soldiers of our battalion to train in difficult mountain terrain. In the Rotunda firing range, the shootings with real ammunition were very important because the actual firing is an important component of our training, and this firing range offered us the possibility to execute them in a very wide space, with very long distances to targets.”   Lieutenant-Colonel Dimitar Katsarov, commander of the 101st Alpine Battalion

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