The US Army maintains a high state of readiness across the globe to defend the nation, assure allies, and deter potential adversaries when the need arises. The Soldiers of 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas, known as the “Long Knife Squadron,” recently tested this readiness during two rapid deployment drills in Eastern Europe.
Over the course of a week from Dec. 1-7, the Long Knife Squadron quickly moved armored vehicles and other critical equipment over 700 miles by rail from Poland to Latvia. The exercise combined military assets from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and the U.S.
“It’s impressive, the speed at which coordination is made between NATO allies,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Bouchard, a Derry, New Hampshire native and the executive officer for 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment’s “Tomahawk” Troop. “With such a daunting task at hand, everybody was extremely quick to work together to overcome any obstacles along the way.”
The discipline that the Soldiers displayed in the face of extreme environmental conditions showed just how well trained and how hard working they are, Bouchard added. “Every Soldier in our ranks has given everything they got. I appreciate them, and I am very proud of them for that.”
Over the next few months, other units in 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will be executing similar missions throughout Europe as part of their deployment to Atlantic Resolve, which is a U.S. mission to fulfill NATO commitments by rotating U.S.-based units throughout Europe.
Following the rapid deployment exercise, the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, immediately conducted another — except this time, they only had 48 hours to deploy equipment and personnel, instead of week.
Once at the deployed location, Soldiers were also required to employ their equipment. This task included “zone reconnaissance,” which involved collecting information on opposing forces, terrain and possible routes to use to move through an area.
“This (exercise) proved that we are capable of conducting zone reconnaissance,” said 1st. Lt. Tyler Bobilya, a Fort Wayne, Indiana native and platoon leader in 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment,.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher King, a Billings, Montana native and tank platoon sergeant, said he has worked with armored forces for more than 11 years. In that time, he has learned the importance of his role as a tanker in the grand scheme of military operations and reconnaissance.
“Our job is not just to fight as armored reconnaissance,” said King. “We paint a picture for the brigade commander to influence how he wants to negotiate the battle space.”
King emphasized that maintaining proficiency on his team’s equipment and the tactics necessary to be successful is critical to achieving success, should deterrence against external threats to America’s European allies and partner nations fail.
“There’s nothing that will change the pace of the battlefield quicker than the introduction of a tank into the fight,” said King, reflecting on a quote from his father, who also served with tanks.
“We are always supposed to be ready to fight at anytime and anywhere,” added Pfc. Shakir York, a Houston, Texas native and a cavalry scout in 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment. “This is good training. This kind of weather, this kind of place … it’s one of the best parts about being in the Army.”