By Capt. Mike Arcovitch
172nd Public Affairs Detachment
Greetings from Germany!
Only weeks after a grueling year of COVID-19 support to Vermont and a month long mission to Washington, D.C. for Operation Capitol Response, over 900 Soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard are now deployed across the globe in support of various missions fulfilling our federal missions.
Around 400 Soldiers from the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) left Vermont in May, bound for validation training at Fort Bliss, Texas. Soldiers completed validation at Fort McGregor, New Mexico, while a small group validated and processed through the Conus Replacement Center at Fort Bliss. The training at Fort McGregor prepared Soldiers for their final training event that occurs at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. Temperatures frequently soared into the 100s in west Texas and New Mexico, with zero humidity and frequent sandstorms. The red sand of Fort McGregor and the surrounding jagged, brown mountain ranges are beautiful, but not at all reminiscent of Vermont. That changed quickly upon our arrival to Germany.
Soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard arrived in Nuremberg, Germany after nearly 16 hours of travel including multiple stops. Upon arrival, we loaded buses bound for Camp Albertshof, Hohenfels, Germany. The drive through southeastern Germany left one to wonder if we were driving through the Northeast Kingdom. The deep greens, sprawling valleys, and the tall rounded mountains are all too familiar. The architecture, however, painted a picture of a deeper history, far older than Vermont’s customary colonials. The history of even the most common building or neighborhood is palpable, with newer and much more modern buildings dotting the urbanized areas. Our arrival and drive through Germany was refreshing with familiar weather and backdrop. Arriving in Hohenfels, we quickly established where we’d be staying for the next several weeks – large white tents with 50 or so green Army cots per tent. Generators provide power, and three trailers provide small space for male and female showers, and washer and dryers.
The Joint Multinational Readiness Center located at Camp Albertshof, Hohenfels, Germany, is hosting seven other nations in addition to U.S. forces. We have had the opportunity to observe and cover Albanian, Moldovan, Romanian and U.S. Soldiers training, and conducted interviews about training specifics from Slovenian, German, and U.S. instructors. Each nation is preparing for the culminating training event which will have our Vermont Soldiers (among other nations), interact with civilian actors and fight off OPFOR (opposing forces and/or enemy actor units). At the culmination of this event, we will again pack up our gear and head out to our mission as part of Operation Joint Guardian, KFOR 29, in various locations across Kosovo.
Everyone is working hard preparing for the next steps. It has been hot here but we are expecting the heat to break with a healthy dose of rain to follow it. We will provide similar updates throughout our deployment, and you can always follow us at https://www.facebook.com/172PAD/ for some awesome photography and videography from our very own Sgts. Gillian McCreedy and Gloria Kamencik.