The Army Training Range “Eugen Kvaternik” near Slunj, Croatia was the venue today 7 May 2013 of the live-fire tactical exercise titled “The Mechanised Battalion Conducting Defence and Transition to the Counter-Attack”.
It was attended by the President of the Republic of Croatia as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Ivo Josipović, the Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, Lt. Gen. Drago Lovrić, senior military and state officials, former chiefs of the General Staff and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, H. E. Kenneth Merten. The Exercise constitutes the first part of the Exercise known as “Spremnost-13” (“Readiness 13”), to take place from 3 – 11 May 2013.
The Distinguished Visitors were welcomed by the Croatian Army Commander, Maj. Gen. Dragutin Repinc, as well as by the Executive Officer of the Exercise and the Commander of the Mechanised Guard Brigade, Col. Boris Šerić and the Exercise Director, Col. Tihomir Kundid, who briefed the attendants on the Exercise. The purpose of the live-fire Exercise was to display trainedness and preparedness of the Motorised Brigade’s units for rapid and efficient preparation and execution of defensive and offensive operations through co-ordinated inter-branch and inter-service operation with the U.S. Air Force (represented by two F-16 aircraft from the Aviano Air Base, Italy) and with the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence respectively (flying two MiG 21s and a M1-171-Sh helicopter)
The Exercise in the simulated battlefield conditions in the 40-min time frame displayed integrated fire, fire and manoeuvre control as well as the manoeuvre and firing capacities of the combat assets employed. The Exercise Scenario included phased operation of a reinforced mechanised battalion (through defence preparation, defence execution, transition into the offensive and pursuit).
Over 700 members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatian and the United States participated in the Exercise – including the Motorised Brigade Command, the Brigade’s “Grom” Battalion (the Batt Command and the 1st Mechanised Coy with the “Patria” APVs and the “Metis” anti-tank device, the Fire Support Coy with the 120-mm mortars and the Recce Platoon), the Mechanised Guard Brigade’s Tank Platoon (with the M-84 tanks), the Motorised Brigade’s “Vukovi” Battalion (with the “Fagot” anti-tank system and 82-mm mortars), the Motorised Brigade’s Air Defence Battalion (the Air Defence Platoon with the 20/3 anti-aircraft guns) and Artillery and Missile Battalion (with the 122-mm D-30 and SPRL Howitzers), the Motorised Brigade FAC team, the Military Intelligence Battalion team with the “Skylark” UAV and the Croatian and the U.S. Air Force forces.
In his statement for the media following the Exercise President Josipović rated the readiness of the participants as excellent. “The Exercise organisation, preparation and conduct of the Exercise were excellent and demonstrated well-coordinated operation of the Croatian Armed Forces members with the Allies’ troops.
Minister Kotromanović pointed out the complexity of the Exercise and a number of the elements observed. “We shall work on to keep the members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia trained, prepared, motivated and strong. Every soldier has to strive towards perfection”, stated the Minister.
The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Drago Lovrić expressed his pride over the readiness of the members of the Croatian Armed Forces, who have been receiving commendations from the partner nations, the Allies and NATO alike. “We have the capability to defend the national territory, to participate in international operations as well as to train other nations” said Lt. Gen. Lovrić.
The second part of the Exercise is scheduled immediately upon conclusion of the first, and entails national evaluation of the 2nd Mechanised Guard Coy of the 1st Mechanised Guard Brigade (“Tigrovi”) in preparation for the NATO Response Force.