JTF-East training in Bulgaria officially begins

A Sept. 1 ceremony here marked the official beginning of Joint Task Force-East's training rotation in Bulgaria, and once again the theme was interoperability.

While there was a two-week Bulgarian-American combined training exercise here last year, this marks the first JTF-East training rotation at NSTA.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to strengthen our already existing bond as we share our respective knowledge and skills as professional Soldiers," said Lt. Col. Sean A. Gainey, commander of Task Force Panther.

The exercise will serve as a platform for U.S. and Bulgarian military forces to exchange ideas and learn from each other Gainey said.

Approximately 900 U.S. and 300 Bulgarian service members are participating in the exercise, and hail from the Utah National Guard and the 3-10 Bulgarian Infantry Battalion, respectively.

"Our experience in the last few years has convinced us that our army has many advantages by pursuing joint training exercises," said Maj. Slavi Dimitrov, deputy commander of Task Force Panther.

"The participation of the Bulgarian military personnel gives them an opportunity to get to know high-tech systems and weapons, to learn new tactics and methods of planning, to raise the level of the joint cooperation and to test themselves in this multi-national and highly dynamic environment," he added.

Bulgaria has troops deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and some exercise participants are slated to deploy to Afghanistan in late September.

[Source: By Sgt. Aimee Millham, United States European Command, Novo Selo Trainning Area, Bgr, 08Sep08]

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