The largest ever Czech-American exercise Immediate Response 2024 took place

 19. 05. 2024      category: Army of the Czech Republic
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The Immediate Response 2024 exercise was part of the U.S. military's largest maneuvers in Europe in decades. It is part of the ongoing Alliance exercise Steadfast Defender 2024, in which more than 90,000 Allied troops from all 32 Alliance countries are participating this year. The common goal was to test the rapid deployment of U.S. forces across the ocean in the event of a threat to one of the allies.

Foto: Proběhlo historicky největší česko-americké cvičení Immediate Response 2024 | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: The largest ever Czech-American exercise Immediate Response 2024 took place | Brigita Ročňáková

The 14-day exercise in May was accompanied by the firing of US and Czech infantry fighting vehicles, tanks and mortars in the Libavá military area under the name of the joint alliance exercise "Immediate Response 2024". This was one of the largest joint exercises with the U.S. side, involving approximately 800 members of the U.S. National Guard from West Virginia and approximately 400 soldiers from the 7th Mechanized Brigade. U.S. M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and M113 tracked armored personnel carriers were deployed along with Czech T-72M4 CZ battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

Foto: Český tank T-72M4 CZ a americké bojové vozidlo Bradley | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Czech T-72M4 CZ tank and American Bradley fighting vehicle | Brigita Ročňáková

Historically the largest exercise in the Czech Republic, it also proved to be of great interest to the commanders involved in the exercise. Among the distinguished guests from the Czech Republic were Major General Václav Vlček - Commander of the Operations Command, Major General Roman Náhončík - Commander of the Ground Forces, Brigadier General Ladislav Rebilas - Commander of the Training Command of the Vyškov Military Academy, Brigadier General Radek Haratek - Commander of the Information and Cyber Forces Command and Colonel Václav Malát from the Vyškov Simulation and Simulator Technology Group. Distinguished guests of the United States of America were U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Bijan Sabet, Major General Joseph DiNonno Commander of the 29th Infantry Division of the West Virginia National Guard and his deputy General Wesley Murray, Colonel James Hacbarth, Colonel Jakub Andrews from the U.S. Military. It wasn't just the commander, but the Mayor of the City of Borders, Daniel Vitonský, was also invited to attend the exercise.

Foto: Cvičící vojáky navštívil americký velvyslanec Bijan Sabet | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: American Ambassador Bijan Sabet visited the training soldiers | Brigita Ročňáková

"We expect that in the future the exercises will be even bigger. Both sides started preparing for it in January, with redeployments beginning in March and April. Most of the American forces that were at Libava were moved by air, and they had their equipment 50 percent ready in advance in Germany," said Maj. Gen. Vaclav Vlcek, commander of the Operations Command.

This exercise demonstrates the ability of NATO allies to integrate with each other. "We are stronger together. Every day we do something like this, we are more likely to deter any threat to our allies. It's been a long journey for U.S. forces, so we've learned a lot by deploying to the Czech Republic," said Deputy Commanding General 
for 29th Infantry Division support, Wesley Murray.

According to Lt. Col. Kevin Hoffman, commander of the deployed U.S. battalion, the U.S. members tested not only the movement itself, but also their ability to work together and logistical procedures during the exercise.

Foto: Přesun techniky americké armády | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Movement of U.S. Army vehicles | Brigita Ročňáková

The deputy commander of the 7th Mechanised Brigade, Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal, assessed that it was a new experience, which was also appreciated by representatives of the Czech army. "It is a tremendous experience for us. We are practicing moving over longer distances, especially interoperability, which means if we are able to connect with each other, if we are able to talk. It's not just about language, but it's about radio technology. For us, this is a great asset," said Colonel Vybíhal.

US Ambassador Bijan Sabet also came to see the cooperation between the two armies. "The cooperation between the Czech Republic and the USA has never been stronger. We are building on the strength of the current US-Czech defence cooperation agreement. Our militaries can train and exercise together, strengthening interoperability, strengthening NATO, strengthening our militaries," the ambassador said.

Foto: Američtí vojáci při střelbách | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: American soldiers firing CZ BREN 2 rifles | Brigita Ročňáková 

Czech-American Victory Day roll call at Hranice garrison

During the exercise on 8 May 2024, tension and anticipation hung in the air as the Borders garrison prepared for the Victory Day ceremony. This year's event was especially significant because a National Guard unit from West Virginia joined the event, adding even more dignity and gravitas to the entire ceremony.

Early in the morning, soldiers wearing badges on their uniforms began to gather on the garrison field, testifying to their bravery and devotion to their country. The atmosphere was filled with mixed feelings - pride in past victories, respect for fallen heroes and hope for the future. The whole ceremony was not only a reminder of past events, but also an opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to all those who have served and continue to serve for the benefit of the homeland and peace. It was a day that motivated us to continue our efforts to keep our country free and safe.

The units of the 7th Mechanised Brigade, led by the Commander Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal, created a perfect plan to honour the memory of those who gave their lives in the name of freedom and peace. Involving the West Virginia National Guard, which joined the Victory Day celebration for the first time at the Borders garrison. Their participation was symbolic and reminded all in attendance of the importance of alliance and cooperation in maintaining peace and security.

Foto: Česko-americký nástup v posádce Hranice | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Czech-American boarding in Hranice garrison | Brigita Ročňáková

Many people gathered at the garrison, from the families of the soldiers to the curious inhabitants of Hranice. For many of them, it was a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into the world of military life and to better understand the work and efforts that soldiers make for the benefit of their country. This was a moment to connect the military unit with its surroundings and to create a stronger bond between the military and the civilian society. As part of the ceremony, participants had the opportunity to see military equipment and weapons. They were able to get a closer look at modern weapons and equipment used by Czech and American soldiers in their daily work.

The invitation to participate in the Victory Day ceremony was accepted by distinguished guests. Major General Václav Vlček, currently serving as Commander of the Operations Command. His presence reinforced the importance of this ceremony and testifies to the unity and strength of the Czech Armed Forces. The Mayor of Hranice, Daniel Vitonský, also committed to attend, as a representative of the local government, he brought the voice of the citizens to the ceremony and showed his support and appreciation to the soldiers for their service and dedication. Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Hoffman participated on behalf of the U.S. Army. His presence symbolized the strong alliance between the Czech and US armed forces and emphasized the importance of international cooperation in maintaining peace and security.

In his speech, Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal offered words of thanks and encouragement to all the soldiers and civilians present. "Today is a reminder of our past, a motivation for our present and a hope for our future. Together we are strong and we will not allow our victories to be forgotten."

During the ceremony, a Czech-English prayer was said by the 7th Mechanised Brigade chaplain, who offered words of respect for the fallen heroes and a plea for protection for all the soldiers present. These spiritual words added a deeper dimension to the ceremony and strengthened the common passion for peace and freedom.

The ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths at the Academicians' Memorial, where the gathering was able to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in the name of freedom and justice. This gesture expressed not only respect but also gratitude for the sacrifice and bravery of those who gave their lives for the country.

Other stops were offered by the Permanent Exhibition and Chapel of St. Barbara in the local garrison, where those interested had the opportunity to visit and spend a moment in peace and contemplation. The chapel was open to all, regardless of religious beliefs, and provided a sanctuary for those seeking a moment of rest and quiet.

The 7th Mechanised Brigade's Victory Day ceremony at the Borders garrison concluded with a deep sense of pride and a firm determination to continue on the path to peace 
and freedom.

The 72nd Mechanised Battalion prepared for the final test of its capabilities at Libavá

On Saturday, from 11 May to 15 May 2024, the 72nd Mechanised Battalion underwent a Combat Readiness Evaluation according to the allied Combat Readiness Evaluation Methodology (CREVAL). For this occasion, the International Immediate Response Exercise 2024 (IMRE24) held at VVP Libavá was used, where hundreds of soldiers from the US Army National Guard Unit 29 Infantry Division, Czech soldiers and dozens of pieces of combat equipment were trained to simulate high-intensity combat.

Foto: Český voják při ženijním výcviku | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Czech soldier during engineer training | Brigita Ročňáková

The certification exercise is a standard NATO procedure for assessing combat readiness, which is used for units prior to their assignment to a cash force or before their deployment to foreign operations. It consists of clearly defined blocks of time during which dozens of incidents are played out on manoeuvre, support and security elements. All of this is overseen by an extensive team of evaluators and subject matter experts who are present at all of these exercise elements and levels of command and control, constantly monitoring and evaluating the work of the units and staffs in dealing with these incidents.  As the guarantor of the forces and assets provided to the international environment, the Operations Command has the primary responsibility for managing the processes.

CREVAL (Combat Readiness Evaluation) 

Confirmation of combat readiness. The objective was to certify the combat readiness of the 72nd Mechanised Battalion from Přáslavice, part of which will be deployed to a foreign operation in Slovakia.

The challenging 14-day "Immediate Response 24" training was combined with a Combat Readiness Evaluation (CREVAL). The training was conducted based on a scenario that corresponds to the conditions of a contemporary symmetric high-intensity conflict and tested the battalion's ability to plan, direct and execute combat operations in an allied force configuration under conditions close to a real war conflict.

Foto: Ošetření raněného vojáka dle metodiky hodnocení CREVAL | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Treatment of a wounded soldier according to the CREVAL assessment methodology | Brigita Ročňáková

They occupied the space provided

The enemy, simulated by the troops, subjected the battalion to a number of difficult situations. The play included elements of conventional and unconventional warfare, including jamming communications by electronic warfare, attacking command posts from the rear, and using weapons of mass destruction on first responders.

"Our task was to capture a designated area of defence, deploy a covering force and then, in contact with the enemy, demonstrate the ability to transition seamlessly into various types of defensive and offensive tactical actions," described Lt Col Michal Voltr, 72nd Mechanised Battalion commander.

The certification exercise represented the culmination of a rigorous preparation that focused on joint training from the squad, platoon, company and battalion levels. Obtaining the Mission Capable certification confirmed that months of joint unit training, aimed at aligning and synchronizing not only tactical capabilities but also areas such as communications, logistics support and reconnaissance, had been successful. "We are able to perform the assigned operational task," said Lieutenant Colonel Michal Voltr, commander of the 72nd Mechanized Battalion, commenting on the evaluation.

Foto: Munice do kanónu bojových vozidel Bradley | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Bradley cannon ammunition | Brigita Ročňáková

Lieutenant Colonel Voltr will serve as the national military representative and Deputy Commander of the Forward Multi-National Brigade Command in Slovakia. The evaluation will result in a final evaluation report with a recommendation for certification.

Throughout the certification, the training units were supervised by a group of shift judges, 
who conducted a rigorous review of the tasks performed, oversaw safety precautions, and coordinated with the exercise management staff.

The certification was attended by the evaluation team

All tactical activities were also evaluated according to the standardized Combat Readiness Evaluation or CREVAL methodology by an evaluation team composed of members of the Operations Command, Ground Forces Command and members of the Multinational Division Centre stationed in Szekesvehervar, Hungary.

"During the Immediate Response 2024 exercise, the Task Force demonstrated its all-round readiness and managed to meet all the necessary criteria for certification of combat readiness to perform tasks within NATO forces," Colonel Jiří Simmer, head of the evaluation team, assessed at the final roll call.

Evaluation of the largest exercise of all time in the Czech Republic

1200 soldiers with 400 pieces of equipment including M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, M113 armoured personnel carriers, BVP-2 infantry fighting vehicles with T-72M4 CZ tanks. This is what this year's largest ever Immediate Response 24 exercise looked like, which took place for two weeks at Libava. With the involvement of two main units - Headquarters 7th Mechanized Brigade and the US Army National Guard 29 Infantry Division, the training was primarily designed to test the commanders' and staffs' ability to command and test not only the movement itself, but also the ability to cooperate with each other, logistics procedures and force integration during the exercise.

Foto: České tanky T-72M4 CZ při bojových střelbách | svob. Brigita Ročňáková
Picture: Czech T-72M4 CZ tanks in combat shooting | Brigita Ročňáková

According to the acting commander of the 7th Mechanised Brigade, Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal, all-round prepared commanders and staffs are absolutely crucial for the conduct of operations. "It is exercises such as Immediate Response 24 that help us develop the ability to act quickly and effectively, link the efforts of individual groups and create a cohesive, flawlessly functioning team of experts. With such a group, I am not afraid to face any challenge," emphasized Colonel Vybíhal.

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