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Romex 2005.

THE 1st Armored Division Engineer Brigade from Germany, while deployed near the border of Ukraine and the Danube River delta in Romania--300 kilometers east of Bucharest--built a miniature city to accommodate some 2,000 U.S. and Romanian soldiers for one month of training during Exercise ROMEX '05.

Ranges and training lanes covered some 23 square kilometers.

Soldiers from the Engr. Bde. planned and executed ROMEX '05. U.S. engineers from 7th Army Training Command in Germany built the ranges, and 7th ATC Soldiers were observer-controllers for the exercise.

Texas Army National Guard Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division's 71st Brigade Combat Team, and Alabama National Guard Soldiers from the 877th Engr. Battalion and Romania's 26th Inf. Bn. were the main training body.

One month of fully integrated training allowed U.S. and Romanian soldiers to test their interoperability while strengthening their newly formed NATO alliance.

Small-arms training, convoy and situational live fire, military operations in urban terrain, and community development and cultural exchanges marked the largest bi-lateral U.S.-Romania training exercise to date, officials said.

"This exercise is groundbreaking in many ways," said COL Lou Marich, commander of the exercise's Task Force Iron Alliance. "We are here to train our armies with state-of-the-art equipment; build friendships with our NATO allies; combine our efforts in community development projects; and, ultimately, create interoperability that will become essential to future missions."

Romanian army Col. Olimpiu Popescu, co-commander of the task force, worked with Marich throughout the planning and operational phases of ROMEX '05.

"We have integrated our armies at every level," he said. "The ability for our Soldiers to work with another country's soldiers, using both of our nations' tactical vehicles and equipment, provides all of us a great opportunity. This exercise is key in continuing to develop our strong, successful alliance."

M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and the Deployable Instrumentation Systems-Europe made their first appearance in Romania, Marich said. The Romanians also provided their armored personnel carriers.

Romania's president, Traian Basescu, toured the training areas during a portion of the exercise and met with soldiers and congratulated them on their training accomplishments.

"We are happy to be good partners with Americans, and I believe that Americans are glad to be good partners with us," Basescu said. "Our mutual trust is not only on the political level. It is on the military level, starting from each soldier on up to general officers. I'm glad that we have this joint training opportunity."

At the headquarters level, "everything from logistics to medical support to force protection and personnel support has been led by teams composed of U.S. and Romanian soldiers," Marich said.

Romanian military police NCO Sgt. 1st Class Tudor Vrinceanu, a shift leader on the combined force-protection team, has worked with the U.S. military several times, including during four Kosovo deployments.

Vrinceanu said most of his soldiers learn from experience, since their army is relatively young. "Each one of these experiences teaches us more. All of us are happy working with American Soldiers. This way, both of our armies will continue to go in the right direction."

At the ranges and on the training lanes, the same joint cooperation created an environment for Soldiers to hone their skills and enhance interoperability with their allies, Marich said.

The Texas Guard's 71st BCT reorganized its units for the exercise by integrating one squad from the Romanian army into each platoon. State-of-the-art training equipment (including "smart" vests and helmets with GPS tracking systems) was used at two military-operations-in-urban-terrain sites, to provide platoons and companies a new alternative in realistic training.

Texas Guard Soldier SGT Bogden Stanei said the training was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"We Guard Soldiers haven't seen some of this equipment in previous training exercises. Plus, the Romanian soldiers we work with are catching on quickly. Once they got the hang of the M-16s, they hit their targets at the range every time. It' s been a lot of fun working together," said Stanei.

The joint platoons have also executed convoy live-fire missions.

"This training prepares all soldiers for deployments to military theaters of operation. It is one more step in our strategic partnership with the United States," said Basescu.

Community Development

The Americans also worked to transform the barren lot outside a school into a playground. The community, unsure of how to show its gratitude, continually visited the site, bearing gifts of fruit for the Soldiers. By the mid-point of the exercise community members had taken up hammers and paintbrushes to work side by side with the Soldiers.

The effort was part of upgrades to four rural schools during ROMEX '05.

MAJ Gary Beaty, civil military affairs officer, who organized the community development projects, said the programs continued to strengthen the U.S. military's relationship with Romania, at the local level.

"Several of these schools are in desperate need of upgrades; it's a good opportunity for us to get involved," said Beaty. "We're touching the next generation, which will grow up seeing what we've done here."

Other community-relations programs were completed by Guard Soldiers, among them a collection of over $5,000 in donations to provide school supplies to several more schools.

Other Soldiers from a medical unit provided children at Tulcea County Hospital with stuffed animals during a medical-evacuation training exercise that was held at the hospital.

"The bottom line is that ROMEX '05 provided an opportunity for U.S. and Romanian troops to train as NATO allies and expand their training perspectives," said BG Michael Tucker, the 1st Armd. Div.'s assistant division commander for support.

The Soldiers who participated in ROMEX '05 will continue to build on the interoperability and camaraderie developed at ROMEX '05 during joint missions in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan in the near future, exercise officials said.

LeAnne MacAllister, a public affairs specialist in Baumholder, Germany, deployed to Romania as part of the 1st Armored Division ROMEX '05 public affairs team. All photos courtesy the 1st AD Public Affairs Office.
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Title Annotation:city built for military training
Author:MacAllister, LeAnne
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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