Military units from U.S., NATO and United Nations allies are training in South Carolina this week.
Exercise STEPPE EAGLE 18 is an annual, multi-national exercise conducted with the Kazakhstan Peacekeeping Battalion, South Carolina Army National Guard, United Kingdom Armed Forces, Tajikistan
Armed Forces, Arizona Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Central. The exercise is occurring at McCrady Training Center in Eastover, close to Fort Jackson.
“Having such an important exercise in the great state of South Carolina allows our coalition partners that often perform the same exercise in their home countries an opportunity to get real-world, realistic training outside of their home bases and home countries,” Col. Jason Awadi with the U.S. Army Central Training and Exercise Division said.
“These units do deploy in support United Nations Peacekeeping operations, so allowing them to come here, establish a footprint and contribute to mission interoperability increases the training readiness,” Awadi said. “STEPPE EAGLE also supports long-term regional stability while allowing more than 250 participants from these various militaries to improve interoperability.”
Col. Awadi said the exercise has four objectives:
- improve interoperability among participants and enhance operational readiness
- express bilateral resolve with Kazakhstan
- receive Kazakhstan Peacekeeping Battalion certification to NATO Level 1
- complete NATO Level 1 interoperability assessment among participating companies.
“The Kazakhstan company that is certifying will actually rotate into the country of Lebanon to support United Nations peacekeeping operations later this fall,” Awadi said.
Based on past partnerships, Col. Awadi said it made sense to have the South Carolina Army National Guard host the training.
“They provided much of the tactical communications gear, the tactical vehicles that we are using and a lot of the logistical support,” he said. “Without the South Carolina Army National Guard support, this exercise would probably have never got off the ground.”