NEWS | Aug. 13, 2019

Green Beret Citizen Soldiers make their mark at Trojan Footprint

By Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

When most people imagine the U.S. Army National Guard, they might think of Soldiers responding to domestic disasters, Guardsmen cradling a child through waist-deep flood waters, or blazing through blizzards in HUMVEE’s. What isn’t typically seen are the pivotal roles Green Berets, and Citizen Soldiers of the Army National Guard's 19th and 20th Special Forces Groups (Airborne), play in special operations around the world.

These two National Guard groups make up two of the seven Army Special Forces Groups. Their battalions, companies and teams came from across the U.S. to the Black Sea region from June 10-21 this year. They worked across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, providing the core Army Special Operations contribution to U.S. Special Operations Command Europe’s Trojan Footprint 19.

Trojan Footprint is an annual SOCEUR-led exercise that brings together U.S., Allied and partner SOF from across Europe. This year’s exercise included 1,400 SOF and armed forces from ten Allied and partner nations training over land, sea, and air across Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and the Black Sea.

“Trojan Footprint provided a great venue for our battalion to deploy and train on our mission essential tasks alongside our Allies and partners in Europe,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Chandler, the commander of 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). “The interoperability and shared lessons learned across the Joint and Multinational spectrum are key to maintaining our collective readiness.”

Although many of these countries have trained for years together in Europe, or deployed together in Iraq or Afghanistan, each exercise still provides another chance for individual teams and SOF to build interoperability.

“In the beginning, the different SOF teams were operating as two different elements but as we progress, you start to see them come together more and more as the bigger picture becomes clearer, and they realize it’s actually possible to function as one unit,” said a Special Forces medic staff sgt. assigned to 19th SFG (A), who served as a special warfare trainer for the exercise.

SOF and conventional forces from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, the Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the U.S took part in this year’s exercise, the first time it’s been held in the Black Sea Region.

“It was difficult for the teams because they didn’t really know each other, but this exercise has started breaking down those barriers so they can start to trust each other,” said a Bulgarian SOF senior officer. “I’ve already started to see the relationships build and it’s only the beginning. It all starts here.”

At the conclusion of a fast rope insertion in which Bulgarian, Ukrainian and U.S. SOF rapidly assaulted an objective via helicopters from the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the Bulgarian officer pointed out a U.S. and a Bulgarian soldier shaking hands and laughing together, and said, “See, you can see the relationships start here.”

The fast rope insertion was just one of the many advanced tactical training events the multinational teams performed throughout the exercise. They participated in events including air assaults, military free fall operations, maritime insertions, and close quarters combat.

In addition to the skill, practice, and years of training these events normally require, these combined teams overcame language barriers while learning the nuances of each other’s techniques.

“Success isn’t a metric in this case, it’s that the teams trained, learned, grew, expanded, and actually got something out of it,” said a communications sgt. 1st class assigned to 19th SFG (A).

In Bulgaria, the 19th SFG (A) Soldiers acted as the training facilitators, while the 20th SFG (A) Soldiers were the operational unit on the ground training with their Bulgarian and Ukrainian counterparts. In Romania, their roles were reversed so that Special Forces teams from both groups were able to work with Allies and partners.

In Hungary, training provided the opportunity for 19th SFG (A) Special Forces Soldiers from Colorado to again work with Slovenian SOF, with whom Colorado has maintained a State Partnership Program since 1993.

“The relationship between Colorado and Slovenia by way of the SPP is one of the oldest,” said Chandler. “For many of us we have grown up together with our partners often serving together in training, exercises, combat, and even attending service colleges together. It often feels like a family vacation to see relatives as we try to catch up on the most current stories of our friends and formations. This relationship demonstrates the significance of known partnerships before the need or a crisis arises. Our ability to rapidly assemble and integrate into multinational exercises demonstrates the collective readiness we have built over decades.”

However, despite which role, country, or team was involved, the operators echoed the same sentiment.

“Training like this is helpful and helps us meet today’s challenges in this region,” said a Romanian SOF soldier. “What we are doing here is unconventional warfare and this is what we do these days.”

In contrast to their active-duty counterparts, National Guard Special Forces bring a different experience to exercises and operations.

“Being a Guard Soldier is unique because the 19th and 20th Group Soldiers work in civilian organizations the majority of the time,” said a 20th Group company operations warrant officer. “They hold jobs such as physician assistants, police officers, fire fighters, and work in the corporate world. Their everyday experiences in those positions bring different perspectives for problem solving during these exercises and deployments.”

For SOCEUR, the integration of National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve special operations capabilities are critical.

“Trojan Footprint is just one example of the work Special Forces Soldiers from the 19th and 20th Special Forces Groups contribute daily to our efforts in Europe,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bruce Holmes, SOCEUR’s senior enlisted leader and a career Special Forces Soldier. “I’m continually impressed by their professionalism and the unique capability they bring, whether competing and deterring in Europe, or in combat operations.”



 In general, all media on the site is produced by U.S. DoD or Federal Agencies, and is in the public domain, i.e., not protected by U.S. copyright; however, other restrictions might apply, such as, but not limited to, the right to enforce trademarks, and the right of privacy/right of publicity, any of which might restrict use of some of the media. Media may not be used to imply endorsement of any product or service by the DoD. Proper credit of the producing journalist(s) is requested.




Your Career Starts Here

Utah National Guard Engineers Train at Dinosaur National Monument
By Sgt. 1st Class Richad Stowell | June 22, 2022
Soldiers from the 1457th participated in an annual training exercise they won't soon forget.Engineers from the 116th Engineer Company and support personnel for the Forward Support Company– about 125 Soldiers in all–...

A gun crew from Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery, Utah National Guard, lines up their M109 Paladin for day of live fire during Western Strike 22, June 11, 2022, at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho. Western Strike 22 is an eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise led by the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah National Guard, that provides National Guard Soldiers immersed training similar to a combat training center and aims to increase participating unit's readiness and lethality. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. William Cowley)
Making a Move: Logistics and the Success of an Exercise
By Sgt. James Bunn | June 14, 2022
Whether moving across the country or making a tactical river crossing, a good logistics plan is the crucial difference between success and failure. Military operations have always hinged upon the movement of troops, weapon...

Gun crews from 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery Regiment, 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah Army National Guard, begin preparing their equipment for a day of fire missions as part of Western Strike 22 at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho, June 11, 2022. Western Strike is an eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise led by the 65th FAB, that provides National Guard Soldiers immersed training similar to a combat training center and aims to increase participating unit's readiness and lethality. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alejandro Lucero)
Lightning Strikes: Summoning America’s Thunder
By Sgt. Alejandro Lucero | June 14, 2022
Units from the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah National Guard, rocked the Idaho landscape in a barrage of awe-inspiring firepower. Soldiers from California, Iowa, North Carolina, and Utah assembled near Boise, Idaho at...

Forward observers await UH-60 helicopters for transport to new observation areas for training on marking artillery targets during Western Strike 22, June 9, 2022. Western Strike 22 is an eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise led by the Utah National Guard’s 65th Field Artillery Brigade, that provides National Guard Soldiers immersed training similar to a combat training center and aims to increase participating unit's readiness and lethality. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel J. Solomon)
North Carolina National Guard forward observers provide fire support to National Guard units from four different states at Western Strike 22
By Cdt. Joshua Matthews | June 14, 2022
Fire support teams from 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment of the North Carolina National Guard provided fire support to National Guard units from four different states during Western Strike 22 throughout the month...

U.S. Army Cpl. Spencer Fayles with Utah’s 144th Area Support Medical Company, receives a certificate of participation during the Region VII Best Warrior Competition award ceremony on the island of Guam, May 26, 2022. This annual competition featured the best noncommissioned officer and Soldier from eight different states and territories including Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Testing competitors’ skills and knowledge and pushing them to their limits, the competition graded each participant in key areas such as basic Soldier skills, marksmanship under stress, land-navigation, and physical fitness. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack)
Two Utah Soldiers awaken "Warrior Spirit" at Region VII Best Warrior Competition
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | June 4, 2022
A Soldier’s transformation into a warrior is difficult to describe. Hand-picked by leadership, proving themselves with every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, and every labored breath; Soldiers who compete naturally don the...

Brig. Gen. Frank Gräfe, the defense attaché from the Federation of Germany to the United States, (left) and Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Boyack, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard & Assistant Adjutant General-Air, (right) pose using the iconic “thumbs up” that Gail Halvorsen was known for on May 20th at the Provo City Cemetary. The Utah Air National Guard was in attendance to show support and honor the heroic efforts of Gail Halvorsen. (Utah Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Nicholas Perez)
Honoring a war hero who delivered hope
By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Perez | May 31, 2022
Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber”, was honored by top leadership from the Utah Air National Guard, Utah National Guard, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with the laying of two...

The Utah National Guard FEMA Region VIII Homeland Response Force held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site which included a demonstration and static display of capabilities May 10, 2022 at Camp Williams, Utah. The CSVS is one of only three military owned Urban Search and Rescue training venues west of the Rocky Mountains. This CSVS will allow both military search and extract and civilian search and rescue teams the opportunity to train together and build those necessary partnerships needed in an “all hazards” response. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Camp Williams adds a Premiere Search and Extraction Training Site to Benefit the Homeland Response Force, State, Region, and Nation.
By Lt. Col. Robert Ramage Warden | May 11, 2022
The Utah National Guard has a new training site for the Region VIII Homeland Response Force’s search and extraction team, as well as partner civilian urban search and rescue teams. Lt. Col. Erick R. Wiedmeier, commander of...

Members of the Combined Veterans Honor Guard joined members from the Utah National Guard Honor Guard in conducting military funeral honors for the remains of Cpl. David Milano April 29, 2022 in Ogden, Utah. Milano went missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, during the Korean War. After 71 years, his remains have been repatriated to the United States and have been laid to rest on U.S. soil. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
A Family's Faith: Chosin Soldier Comes Home
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | May 3, 2022
Often referred to as “the Forgotten War,” the Korean War’s significance tends to be overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. Even in that light, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Korean War service members are...

Chief Warrant Officer4 Deena Haag
The Utah National Guard Celebrates Women’s History Month in March 2022
By (Courtesy article) | March 31, 2022
During the month of March, the Utah National Guard celebrates Women’s History and honors and acknowledges the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. Women have played a vital...

The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah. This event marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the group has rallied to reunite and reflect on their time spent in service to the nation, state, and community of Southern Utah.
2-222 Field Artillery Battalion “Triple Deuce” holds reunion for former and current members
By Maj. Emilio Suazo | March 19, 2022
The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah...