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October 28, 2020

Military ceremony at Mihail Kogalniceanu air base to mark wrap-up of Tobruq Legacy 2017 exercise

The wrap-up of the Tobruq Legacy 2017 (TL17) exercise that ran simultaneously in the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Romania between July 12 – 22 under the lead of the US European Command, was celebrated on Saturday in a festivity organized at the Mihail Kogalniceanu military air base in Constanta.

According to the commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Col. David. E. Shank, TL17 was highly successful.

Tobruq Legacy was a very good exercise, an exercise we performed successfully. We had the opportunity to bring together ten nations that participated not only with troops, but also with tactical weapons. Apart from the 10 participating countries, we had another 12 observer countries, Shank said.

Asked about the difficult moments of the military exercise, he pointed to communication and equipment, as the exercise joined soldiers from various countries.

When you have several countries participating in a joint exercise there are always difficulties and one must succeed in overcoming them. (…) Every time you bring together several countries, it is difficult both in terms of language and of the equipment they have, because the equipment differs and it is not easy to integrate them, and train everybody to work with it. It’s something we face every day, not just at an exercise like Tobruq Legacy, said the American colonel.

Deputy Commander of the US Army Europe, Maj. Gen. Timothy McGuire said that the Romanian and US troops cooperated very well in all the exercises conducted lately.

I’m not for the first time [in Romania] and cooperation with the Romanians has always been very good. We performed exercises, not just Tobruq Legacy, there were exercises at Campia Turzii, in Bordusani and Cincu, and they were all very successful and I am very pleased with the outcomes, McGuire said.

He also said that each military exercise is followed by analyzes and the decision is made on what needs to be improved.

Air Flotilla General Teo Toader, deputy head of the Romania-based Joint Forces Command, said it was a very important exercise.

”This Command is in the process of asserting itself, for us it was the first significant experience consisting of the deployment of a forward point of command from where we coordinated all the activities on the territory of Romania. (…) TL17 was a highly important exercise, also from the perspective of the joint forces, and this exercise culminated with the defence and anti-missile sequence that is key to the freedom of movement of ground forces. The exercise was the coronation of the activities of the Romanian Air Force and of the forces of the other participating states. A special effort was that of the US colleagues, of the colleagues from other countries who sent observers here, they were very interested in this exercise. (…) We are getting prepared, we are training together to be able to cope with any challenge. We know there is a challenging period ahead, we know that it is good to be prepared, to be integrated, that it’s good to have mutual trust,” the Air Flotilla General pointed out.

According to him, certain military procedures still need to be adjusted to increase the level of interoperability.

“Clearly, any training event leaves the door open to improvement possibilities, obviously there are procedures that need to be adjusted for a higher level of interoperability, it’s about action coordination for an efficient result,” said Toader.

Asked if there were also observers on Russia’s behalf at the TL17, Toader said that they participated in the exercises at Cincu, Raureni and Bordusani.

”Not at this exercise, no. Instead, there was a Russian participation at the OSCE visit, they were taken to four exercise sites at Cincu, Raureni, Bodusani and they were also supposed to go to Smardan, but gave up at the last moment because there were many important events in the first three locations. Everybody manifested transparency, Romania as a first nation, the US as leader of the exercise, I am speaking of USAREUR, they were presented all the training events and met the key leaders by locations and they were able to exchange opinions with them, ask questions and get answers,” Teo Toader said.

He underscored that by no means was TL17 targeted at Russia. “It was aimed at our common training, to render us able to deal with a possible aggression, in no way did we target any direction, any state, we only aimed at good training, interoperability, capability integration,” said the Air Flotilla General.

The program of the Distinguished Visitors’ Day for the Tobruq Legacy 2017 exercise last Saturday included, apart from the screening of video clips from training with particular military equipment, the awarding of several servicemen. A military technology exhibition was also on display.

TL17 was intended to showcase interoperability among multiple air defence structures of Europe, contributing toward consolidating NATO’s deterrence efforts. In Romania, troops of the NATO member states participated in the TL17 activities at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base and at the Capu Midia Training Camp and Shooting Range.

TL17 was a support exercise for Saber Guardian 2017 (SG17), a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led military exercise conducted between July 11 – 20 in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, and which saw the participation of 25,000 military personnel from 22 allied and partner countries.

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