(Near Sibui - Romania) Members of the Montana National Guard are wrapping up their participation in a multi-national military exercise in Romania.
The exercise, called "Saber Guardian," aims to enhance the readiness and cooperation between the U.S., its NATO allies, and partners in Eastern Europe.
On Thursday, the Romanian President and top military officials watched maneuvers involving tanks, helicopters, and ground forces.
More than 500 members of the Montana National Guard are taking part at the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center.
MTN's Margaret DeMarco is the only Montana journalist covering the exercise.
We'll have more Friday as the exercise winds down.
Margaret will have a complete look at the training next week on MTN News.
The trip was funded in part thanks to a grant from the Greater Montana Foundation.
The Greater Montana Foundation benefits the people of Montana by encouraging communication, with an emphasis on electronic media, on issues, trends, and values of importance to present and future generations of Montanans.
(JULY 25, 2016) “I joined the Army to make my parents proud, and another thing that got me was the chance to see different foreign places,” said Chase Adkins a Montana National Guard Soldier.
It's an opportunity Adkins will get to experience after he and 500 other Montana National Guard Soldiers deployed to Romania Saturday morning for three weeks.
This is the first time troops are deploying to this country. Adkins has been serving in the Guard for four years now, and he finally gets to leave Fort Harrison to train overseas for three weeks.
“I’m excited to see what their culture is and see the different customs,” said Adkins.
After preparing for nine months, the 163rd Combined Arms Battalion soldiers have their bags are packed, and they’re ready to go.
“Everyone is eager just to get there and start their mission. These guys are hard workers, and these guys want to do what they’ve been training to do,” said Justin Bailey, Company Commander.
In May they sent tanks and fighter vehicles to Romania by rail so they would arrive at the same time as the soldiers.
Commander Bailey says the purpose of this mission is to connect with our NATO allies, "we’re here to show a presence, train with other foreign national countries and develop that bond,” said Bailey.
Other countries like Canada, Ukraine, and Turkey will train with our Montana soldiers.
Bailey says it’s a win-win for everyone involved, "learn tactics from them, they learn tactics from us and build that team."
For the soldier born and raised in Hamilton, this trip is not only about training, but also about a learning a foreign culture.
“Just get to meet some of the people out there to experience something other than the United States culture,” said Adkins.
Our coverage of the National Guard training overseas will continue as MTN is sending a reporter to Romania during the last week of their mission.