Heat and dust fill the air as the earth yields under 125 tons of steel and armor, engines roar to life and tank tracks begin to pulverize the ground beneath them. The Leopard A2 and M1 Abrams tanks are on the prowl. Working in tandem with mechanized infantry, helicopters and artillery to eliminate objectives through communication, firepower and maneuverability as a singular force, the United States and the Hellenic Republic defined interoperability during Olympic Cooperation 2021. Olympic Cooperation was a joint live-fire maneuver exercise held at Triantafyllides Camp near Xanthi, Greece from Nov. 6 – 16. For almost two weeks, U.S. and Hellenic forces have trained and grown together as NATO partners and allies to be a more effective fighting force for the alliance.
Throughout the exercise, soldiers from the U.S. and Hellenic Republic learned from each other through a series of challenging and realistic training events in many environments. Olympic Cooperation integrated troops at a tank section’s lowest possible tactical level with a wet-gap crossing operation on the Nestos River— days of force-on-force training, live-fire gunnery and platoon exercises. Among the principal goals of the exercise was to enable the planning and execution of joint operations at a tactical level. These insights found amongst the soldiers complement the individual training of both armies and lead to integrating different methods, procedures, tools and techniques that develop interoperability between the Hellenic and American armies.
The exercise focused heavily on offensive and defensive operations, with joint forces utilizing armor, mechanized infantry, artillery, helicopters and combat engineers. The soldiers examined defensive and offensive operations semi-autonomously using DISE (Deployable Instrumentation System, Europe) gear. DISE is an instrumentation system for soldiers, their weapons and their equipment. Like MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) gear, soldiers also wear an array of sensors that allow other soldiers to “kill” them during training. The DISE vest soldiers wear also includes a Global Positioning System receiver, a computer that identifies the soldier who wears it, and a radio that broadcasts data about the user to an array of antennas around training ranges.
The combined aspect of the exercise in his closing remarks at the closing ceremony. After completing Olympic Cooperation, soldiers from both nations can fully appreciate the warfighting capability of each other’s army and equipment. Working together, integrating and successfully training to fight as a single force presented challenges that required patience and communication to overcome. Still, it has left everyone involved stronger, more resilient and better prepared for any challenge that may arise in the future. Exercises like Olympic Cooperation and its real-world results, hands-on training and tactical, low-level joint unit integration are strengthening the NATO alliance and reinforcing the fact that we are stronger together.