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By Maj. J. Scott Detweiler
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
More than 120 Vermont Army National Guard Soldiers will participate in training exercise Swift Response 22 in North Macedonia from May 11 to 17.
Exercise Swift Response is an annual U.S. Army Europe and Africa multinational training exercise that takes place this year in Eastern Europe, the Arctic High North, Baltics, and Balkans from May 2-24.
“Now that North Macedonia is a part of NATO it opens the door for them to participate in more training exercises with the U.S. and its NATO partners,” said Col. Justin Davis, Vermont National Guard director of plans and operations. "As our state partner, it only increases our relationship building between the Vermont National Guard and North Macedonia.”
Vermont Soldiers participating will come primarily from Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain). Swift Response 22 will fulfill the two-weeks of annual training requirements for these Citizen-Soldiers.
“For most of our Soldiers it will be the first time they have trained in Europe,” said Capt. Aaron Harkness, assistant plans officer for the battalion. “The environment, terrain, and training mission are different from what we have been focusing on over the last two years. It will be great for us to get back to training in a mountainous environment where we can utilize the terrain to our advantage.”
Most of 3-172 IN (MTN) just returned from a 10-month deployment in support of U.S. Central Command in December 2021, where most operations occurred in desert terrain.
As part of the National Guard State Partnership Program, the Vermont National Guard has partnered with North Macedonia since 1993 and conducts about 20 military-military engagements together each year, including a co-deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. Under the State Partnership Program, Vermont has also established relationships with Senegal in 2008 and the Republic of Austria, just announced in October 2021.