A series of multinational exercises that took place at the Army’s largest overseas training command over the last 12 months are expected to take place again within the next year, officials said.
“I put them in two buckets: There [are] those exercises where we are the lead, and then there are those exercises where we support U.S. Army Europe and Africa,” Brig. Gen. Joseph Hilbert, the head of 7th Army Training Command, said in an interview with Army Times.
The command, which is based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and falls under the purview of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, is responsible for providing training to all of its troops as well as to NATO allies and other partner nations.
Hilbert discussed the four following major exercises that 7th ATC ran this past year, before also reviewing updates to the command’s other renovation projects.
The largest of 7th ATC’s exercises, Defender Europe, took place in May and included 11 allied and partner nations. The annual war game, which began in 2020, is considered a defense exercise meant to build readiness and demonstrate the strong U.S. commitment to NATO.
“You will see the Defender series continue in U.S. Army Europe and Africa in the years to come. We are finding that to be a very critical and valuable exercise,” Hilbert said.
Of the more than 13,000 multinational troops participating in the exercise, nearly 10,000 of them were U.S. forces, according to 7th ATC spokesperson Maj. Tabitha Hernandez.
Described by Hilbert as an “artillery exercise pure and simple,” Dynamic Front this year offered a chance for the U.S. and its allies to increase their technical cooperation and readiness.
Led by 56th Artillery Command, 19 nations met at Grafenwoehr in July for a series of live-fire tests and other drills.
“You don’t have to look any further than the current conflict in Ukraine to see the importance of being able to mass artillery fire. This is an exercise where we’re able to do that at the multinational level,” said Hilbert, who was not authorized to share more about training Ukrainian troops.
Of the nearly 3,000 multinational troops participating in the exercise, a little more than 1,500 were U.S. forces, according to Hernandez.
Another major warfighting exercise with 7th ATC this year, Allied Spirit, provided an opportunity for U.S. forces to operate under the leadership of an allied brigade.
It took place at Hohenfels, Germany, in January and February with 15 different nations. Germany provided the higher headquarters in this installment of the exercise.
Of the more than 6,000 multinational troops participating, a little more than 1,700 of them were U.S. forces, Hernandez said.
“You can think of this as the inverse of Allied Spirit. If Allied Spirit is an allied brigade with a U.S. battalion, Saber Junction is going to be predominantly a U.S. brigade, but we’re going to throw allies in there,” Hilbert said.
Saber Junction, which began at the end of August at Hohenfels, is similarly designed to other 7th ATC training operations to test the readiness of U.S. troops and some allied and partner nations.
Of the more than 4,400 multinational troops participating in the exercise, Hernandez said, a little more than 3,500 of them were U.S. forces.
Updating training areas
In addition to repeating its major combat exercises in the next year, 7th ATC is also pursuing initiatives to update its training areas, especially as some special operations troops at the Stuttgart garrison are repositioned to the more rural Baumholder installation.
“A total of 10 projects are programmed through [fiscal 2027] at Baumholder, with the last project completion projected in FY29,” Hernandez said in a statement, highlighting modernization projects that include “small arms ranges, a sniper range complex, live fire shoot houses and breaching facilities.”
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media