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Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the 648th Mobile Enhancement Brigade in Europe for Saber Guardian 17

By Capt. William Carraway | Georgia National Guard | July 11, 2017

RAMNICU VALCEA, Romania - More than 150 Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers from the Columbus-based 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are in Romania for exercise Saber Guardian 17.

Led by U.S. Army Europe, the multi-national exercise involves more than 25,000 service members. The Guard members will play a pivotal role in the exercise, which unfolds across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania this month.

"This will be the first time a maneuver enhancement brigade has ever participated in an exercise of this kind incorporating a contested river crossing," said Col. John Gentry, commander of the 648th MEB. "From the perspective of the MEB community and the Army as a whole, this represents a significant training opportunity."

Saber Guardian 17 runs from today to July 20 and involves service members from 22 nations in a complex series of training exercises designed to demonstrate the capability to maneuver forces. For the 648th MEB, whose motto is 'freedom to maneuver,' the exercise is an opportunity to highlight the capabilities of a maneuver enhancement brigade.

The MEB is a tailored force consisting of a large headquarters company, a network support company and sustainment battalion. The MEB can manage up to seven battalions to accomplish a variety of missions.

For its Saber Guardian mission, the 648th MEB will have military police, engineer and air defense units assigned. Working together, these Guard, reserve and active Army units will establish a wet crossing site to permit the advancement of friendly forces across the Olt River.

"We enhance freedom of movement, that is our purpose in the division support area," said Gentry. "We can do that one of two ways. We can play a defensive role, protecting elements in the support area but are also capable of offensive operations as well."

Based in Columbus, the 648th MEB has subordinate units in Cumming and Ellenwood, Georgia. With Guard members from across the state of Georgia, the 648th MEB has had an active existence. Organized in 2007, the 648th MEB deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as Task Force Hydra. Subordinate units of the 648th have deployed multiple times in support of overseas contingency missions and have supported overseas training missions in Europe and the Pacific. Soldiers of the 648th MEB were called to duty in 2016 following Hurricane Matthew and provided engineering, transportation and sustainment assets in support of response efforts along the Georgia coastline.

Briefing his Soldiers moments before the 648th departed for Romania, Gentry noted the significance of their upcoming mission and the challenges ahead.

"This is an important moment for all of us," said Gentry. Everyone will be very engaged from the time we land to the time we load up to come home. It will be an all-out sprint.