HOHENFELS, Germany - The military training exercise Combined Resolve 2013 brought service members from throughout Europe and some units from the U.S. to the Hohenfels Training Area.
Two California National Guard Infantrymen, Staff Sgt. Brian Paredes, from Whittier, Calif., and Staff Sgt. Jose Contreas-Garcia of Los Angeles said pride and service to country were their prime motivations for continued service, but the annual training in Europe was special.
"I appreciate the time serving and gain a lot of pride from this," Paredes said. "This is what keeps me motivated most of the time. I have a sense of pride in myself, my military and in my country."
Soldiers from Glendale, Calif., the 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, also known as the 1/160th, attended annual training, while participating in the exercise with Soldiers from nine European countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and Sweden.
National Guard Soldiers may train in Europe as part of the Overseas Deployment Training Program, or as part of a partnership program, which encourages stateside Guard and Reserve units to use their annual training events with an additional week to train in various military specialties, such as engineering, public affairs, legal or medical.
For example, at the Hohenfels Training Area, members of the New Jersey Army National Guard are currently training with an Albanian Military Advisory team. The Army National Guard's State Partnership Programs prepare U.S. units for nine-month deployments with their multi-national counterparts.
"The training improves our unit. We learn more and we learn what we do wrong," said Contreas-Garcia. "We have lots of new privates, and we want them to experience everything."
He said the experience gained from traveling internationally and training with the multinational armies is invaluable. It offered richer experiences than training at his home station in southern California.
"This training is different for us, we are usually the OPFOR," said Contras-Garcia. "I learned new tactics, and how to incorporate the terrain to our advantage."
"Training at Hohenfels helps leaders to be more effective," he said.
Acting as the Liaison Officer for the 1/160th, Orange County Deputy Sheriff, 1st Lt. Orasio Leyva, worked with the Slovenia Army.
"This exposes the Soldiers to working with multinational partners, and working with different terrain that we're normally not used to," said Leyva. "You get a different perspective to how things work and how they operate and their structure. This has opened up my eyes to see how they coordinate their operations and planning."