MD Intelligence Battalion gains invaluable experience supporting U.S. Army Europe
Article and photography by Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg, 58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade
Thirty Maryland National Guard soldiers from the 629th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion recently supported U.S. Army Europe’s intel operations during Joint Warfighting Assessment 18.1, an exercise that tested readiness, interoperability, and future force development at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas, Germany.
Focused primarily on the military intel mission of the exercise, the Maryland Guard soldiers served in various high-level command structures throughout the scenarios and provided a wide-range of backgrounds and experience to the USAREUR intel capabilities.
“Our 629th intel personnel were able to assess critical information within various official platforms throughout the exercise and then turn them into decision-making products for senior leaders,” said U.S. Army Maj. Ryan N. Gerner, 629th MI Bn. executive officer. “It was amazing to see them come out of their comfort zones and show our active-duty counterparts what we could do.”
The intel functions the 629th MI Bn. provided included counter, human, signal, and all source intelligence capabilities.
“During the exercise, the teams were able to synchronize with one another during three different shifts and involve themselves in the full-range of military intel skill sets,” Gerner said.
USAREUR G2 hosted the 629th MI Bn. soldiers within the Mission Command Center in Wiesbaden. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher J. Heatherly, deputy chief of USAREUR G2 operations, plans, and training division, oversaw the day-to-day operations and witnessed first-hand the expertise the National Guard counterparts brought to the table.
“The support from our U.S. National Guard and Army Reserve units is absolutely vital to our operations and their work was exceptional,” said Heatherly. “It’s a win for us given how well the exercise went and it’s a win for them by applying the various intel functions from this level to their own training objectives.”
As an integrated team, the Maryland Guard intel soldiers were able to cross-train with the other companies within the battalion, adding value to their overall experience and overall knowledge.
“Expanding the skill sets, teaching what a staff looks like from this level, and the great perspective that comes with it was all achieved during this exercise”, said Sgt. Cody J. Lewis, an intel analyst with A Company, 629th MI Bn. “People have to branch out from their comfort zones and participate in the opportunities that exist.”
U.S. soldiers tested 27 concepts and capabilities alongside U.S. allies and partners during the JWA 18 from April 20 to May 7.
JWA consisted of six 3-star headquarters, and more than 4,800 participants from 10 partner nations. The assessment included a brigade headquarters from United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany, one battalion headquarters from Denmark, and participants from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain. United States Air Force Europe, 3rd Fleet and U. S. Army Special Operations Command also provided mission command elements for the exercise.