Simulators, support and self- confidence

Come rain, come shine – it was typical Swedish September weather when a US company from the Minnesota National Guard spent the week training with its Swedish host unit in Skövde – Skaraborg's Regiment. At the beginning of the week, much time was spent briefing the international guests on all the regulations they must follow when they are on Swedish soil. The remainder of the week was devoted to exercises, unit against unit, in equal numbers.

During breaks on the first day, soldiers from both sides were able to show and try out each other’s equipment. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
American M1A1 Abrams main battle tank from 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor, Minnesota National Guard. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Checking and testing of simulator equipment before the exercise. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
The American Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
American soldiers advancing. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
"A very good exercise for both sides." Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces
A Swedish Infantry Fighting Vehicle (Stridsfordon 90) waiting for American opposition. Photo: Joakim Elovsson/Swedish Armed Forces

Which roads can you drive on with tracked vehicles? What should be done in the event of damage to roads or the environment? Where will we eat and sleep? Many questions were dealt with during the first days of the pre-exercise training.

– It's all about giving them the right conditions to be able to exercise properly. We started with purely practical details such as instructions and laws, and land and environmental regulations. How fast you can drive on roads and in the field, and how you cross roads as safely as possible were some of the issues highlighted. In addition, we spent a lot of time getting our simulator systems to work together, says Torbjörn Lorén from Skaraborg's Regiment.

After some initial difficulties, the systems have worked together during the week. It is the first major test of the Swedish simulator system working with a foreign system. In order for Exercise Aurora 17 to work as planned, the systems must work together.

– This includes being able to carry out evaluations where you can see a unit’s movements, and also if there is any effect on what you are shooting at. Each US unit has also had a Swedish soldier with them, to answer any questions and provide support, explains Torbjörn.

When the systems were synchronized, and the Americans had had the opportunity for some practical training, including driving exercises and rehearsing their plan of attack, it was time to test unit against unit out in the training area. Each side had about 180 personnel, 10 infantry fighting vehicles and four tanks.

– We have practiced both mounted and dismounted combat. It has not only been very useful for us, but also for the American unit, says Fredrik Ingemarsson, who was in charge of the pre-exercise training, and continues:

– To be able to exercise against an opponent who doesn’t use the same tactics as us, who tackles tasks differently, who doesn’t know the terrain so well, and uses other methods and solutions, which we don’t use, is essential for us to continue developing and increase our capability.

The American guests were very pleased with the preparatory activities arranged by their Swedish host unit, and the way the week was organized.

– The last two days when we’ve exercised against each other has been very good. Seeing you use the terrain the way you do has been very instructive. Previously we haven’t been close to the level of training that has been put into this week. Our soldiers and officers will leave Skövde and go into Aurora 17 with much greater self- confidence than when we arrived here, said the commander of the American unit, Chris Bingham.