Story by Troy Darr
U.S. Army NATO Brigade
Executing precise live-fire missions combining air, land and intelligence support forces from five NATO countries was the goal of Dacian Strike held near where the Danube River spills into the Black Sea on NATO’s southeastern flank.
The Headquarters of NATO Multinational Division-Southeast conducted the exercise at the Smardan Secondary Combat Training Center June 12-16. The exercise included forces from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Romania, and the United States.
“What we’re trying to create here at MND-Southeast is tactical air C2 (command and control) in a land echelon below the corps level,” said Canadian Air Force Maj. Jordan Harpe, MND-SE G5/7. “Under the old doctrine there’s significant time lapses in our responses when it comes to air-land integration. We’re trying to overcome that.
“NATO’s official decision right now is that we’re developing it at the corps level, the ASOC/JAGIC (Air Support-Operations Center/Joint Air-Ground Integration Center).
“Here at MND Southeast we’re trying to develop a model that is manned by the host nations and provides tactical air C2 capability at division and lower.
“Of course, the intent of our tactical air C2 capability is to be able to integrate every asset that would be in the division’s AOR (area of responsibility) and, regardless of the communications systems that they employ, we would be able to command and control them.”
Dacian Strike is the first iteration of what is expected to be a series of exercises conducted to train and validate MND-Southeast fire control teams’ capabilities to exercise control over assigned air and ground areas by integrating all the firing capabilities, according to a Romanian Ministry of National Defence press release.
“Dacian Strike is great to strengthen bonds and communication between U.S forces and our allies in NATO, and it’s exercises like these that really help to test our capabilities and demonstrate strength across Europe,” said U.S. Army Capt. Stephen Uyehara, commander of A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.
Headquarters MND-Southeast is NATO’s command and control military body in the Southeast region of Europe aligned under the Multinational Corps Southeast. The headquarters are located in Bucharest, Romania. Romanian Army Maj. Gen. Dorin Toma is the commanding general of MND-Southeast.
“Dacian Strike 2023 involved the training and validation of Headquarters Multinational Division Southeast’s Joint Fires and Effects Team through the use of tactical air command and control within our area of operations,” said Toma. “DAST23, planned and led by HQ MND-Southeast, is the latest iteration of the DACIAN STRIKE series, promoting air-land integration in NATO force structure HQs, thus demonstrating NATO’s unified focus on interoperability.
“The participation of the two NATO Battle Groups (Romania and Bulgaria), alongside other national and multinational structures, confirms, once again, that they are an active component of NATO’s deter and defend posture, contributing to increasing readiness and cohesion on the southeastern flank,” said Toma.
U.S. Army participation in the exercise included Soldiers assigned to MND-Southeast, as well as 101st Airborne, 3rd Infantry and 10th Mountain divisions.
The mission of U.S. Army NATO is to provide ready and resilient Soldiers to the NATO alliance by ensuring U.S. Army Soldiers and their families assigned to NATO billets receive the support they need to thrive in a variety of environments at 81 locations in 22 countries.