NEWS | Jan. 25, 2018

Forging partnership through experience at Iron Union 18-6

By Sgt. Thomas Crough U.S. Army Central

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, participated in a field training exercise alongside United Arab Emirates Armed Forces during Iron Union 18-6, near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 21-24, 2018.

“Our mission here is to build interoperability and keep everything in the fight, focusing on readiness of equipment and personnel,” said Capt. Matthew Gaskin, commander, “Hellion” Forward Support Company (H-FSC), 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment. “We got with the nation of support, UAE, we looked for our counterparts whether it be...maintenance, supply, or combat arms fellowships. We linked up with them, we started sharing ideas, they showed us how they do sustainment, how they do maintenance and then we pitch ours, how we do it. And we gain common understanding from each other.”

Iron Union is a recurring exercise focusing on combined arms, security, and staff operations. It is designed to strengthen military-to-military relations between the U.S. and the UAE land forces.

Emirati and U.S. troops need to figure out how to communicate despite the language barrier and do the exercise together, explained Maj. Gen. Victor J. Braden, commanding general, 35th Infantry Division, during a visit with Soldiers of the 2nd BCT, 1st AD, at an austere training site. The training site encourages Soldiers to overcome this hurdle as forces live and work together.

“It helps to get together and learn about their culture and show them ours,” said Spc. Winston Madera-Ortiz, a motor transport operator, with H-FSC. “We can share our knowledge and at the same time we can take theirs so we can keep moving forward.”

The training is an opportunity for both countries to build tactical proficiency in critical mission areas, gain an understanding of each other's forces, and support long-term regional stability.

“We really focused on building that bond between our counterparts throughout our entire time here...individuals conversing either at the table, in a vehicle, or on the battlefield…” said Gaskin, a native of Arkansas. “They do a lot of things that we do...the major that I was paired with, he has three boys just like I do so it was really good conversations and that just built that bond between the two forces.”