INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier Guardsmen participated in the Blonde Avalanche exercise last week in Slovakia to increase disaster relief cooperation with regional allies and state partners.
The engineer-oriented exercise geared toward the Tisa Battalion, a multinational unit comprising of assets from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine, consisted of bridging and rescue techniques.
Since natural disasters do not respect country borders, it is vital that soldiers, from any given region, are ready to cooperate and work jointly to mitigate catastrophic consequences and provide relief to citizens, said Minister of Defense Peter Gajdos.
The leader of the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, saw value in the exercise as making strides toward U.S. Army Europe’s intent of interoperability and implementing innovative solutions to common problems.
“The strong existing relationships that the Indiana National Guard has developed with Slovakia through the State Partnership Program are a critical component to USAREUR’s efforts to improve allied capabilities and leverage the power of the Army’s ‘Total Force’,” said Carr.
The exercise combined a river crossing and a command-post exercise.
The river crossing was set up at a site near the town of Sered, where the Slovak engineer unit has its headquarters.
The command-post exercise was conducted at the Military Academy in Liptovsky Mikulas. An engineer working group session was also conducted during the exercise, where senior military engineers from the different nations participated in discussions and exchanged best practices.
The Tisa Battalion stood up in 2002 after repeated catastrophic flooding, along the Tisa River, which flows through Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.
“These exercises are a smart investment. They not only build relationships with our allies, but also increase our military proficiency and create trust and understanding between the soldiers and leaders of Europe and the U.S.,” said Carr.
The exercise is held on a rotational basis - Slovakia hosted this year, last year it was held in Hungary, and before that Romania.