BEZMER, Bulgaria – The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade has demonstrated its ability to rapidly project aviation assets from their homes in Germany to Eastern Europe in less than 12 hours by deploying 17 aircraft from 3 separate bases across Germany, crossing 7 countries and over 1000 miles.
Elements of the 1-214th Aviation Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, arrived at Bezmer Airfield, Bulgaria on Friday April 30, 2021 to participate in Swift Response 21, which is part of the larger DEFENDER-Europe exercise series 21.
âThe 1st of the 214th is unique among other battalions as we are involved throughout the scope of DEFENDER-Europe 21. As we complete our external assessment here at Swift Response, we also have support packages for Saber Guardian in Hungary and additionally -wing Company performs missions in support of other DEFENDER Europe exercises across theater, âsaid Lt. Col. Matthew McGraw, commander of the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment. âWe had an exceptional welcome from our hosts, the Bulgarian army. They have been extremely helpful in creating the conditions for us to be successful here in Bezmer. “
The purpose of this training is to demonstrate the ability of the 12th CAB to project forces through the European theater and once there, immediately prepare for follow-up operations. This includes two major air assaults with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. This month, the 12th CAB will work hand in hand with the 173rd to carry out air assaults in a complex environment, under night vision goggles, with a real threat.
âIt gives us the opportunity to test our courage and make sure we’re ready to fight and win when asked,â McGraw said.
McGraw recognizes the difficulties in moving his battalion quickly this distance, and he attributes the success of doing so to two specific groups under his command.
âThe first being our Unity Movement Officers – these trained soldiers have enabled us to successfully project our forces here. The second and most important part for aviation is our maintainers. My maintainers in this battalion have done a phenomenal job preparing these helicopters to deploy this distance.
DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large-scale exercise led by the United States military and designed to enhance readiness and interoperability between the United States, NATO allies and partner militaries. This year, more than 30,000 multinational forces from 26 countries will conduct near-simultaneous operations in more than 30 training areas in 14 countries, from the Baltic States to the strategically important regions of the Balkans and the Black Sea. Follow the latest news and information on DEFENDER-Europe 21, visit www.EuropeAfrica.army.mil/DefenderEurope.