More than 200 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade and U.S. Marines of the SPMAGTF-CR-AF (Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa), as well as the Indiana Army National Guard Long Range Surveillance Company and airmen and C-130s from the Wyoming Air National Guard, are in Portugal to participate in the ORION 17 military exercise between June 5 – 20, 2017.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Herro Mustafa will travel to Santa Margarida to visit with U.S. participating forces and observe paratroopers jump from Wyoming Air National Guard C-130 aircraft on June 9. The airborne operation demonstrates the combined strength of NATO Allies and the tactical advantage gained through U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade’s ability to quickly mass forces and combat power in combined exercises with Portugal. The Embassy will also attend the High Visibility Day at the Artillery Regiment in Beja on June 15.
While the U.S. military has participated in previous ORION exercises, this year’s U.S. participation is the largest of any prior ORION exercises and the various groups comprise the largest foreign military contingent. In addition to the United States, Spain, the Portuguese Air Force, and the Portuguese Red Cross also are participating in this exercise. In total, roughly 2000 Soldiers and Airmen: 1600 Portuguese, 130 Spanish and 220 American; three C-130, one MV-22 and 100 wheeled vehicles.
ORION is an annual Portuguese Army training exercise, scheduled by the Army’s Chief of Staff and conducted by the Land Forces Command focused on the execution of crisis response operations, with a joint, combined framework support.
The primary Portuguese aim of the exercise is to officially certify the Portuguese Rapid Reaction Brigade for future NATO, EU or UN deployments. ORION’s strategic objective is the planning, control and integration of foreign troops into a high intensity and complex combat scenario in order to enhance allied interoperability. ORION missions will take place in various locations around Portugal with most activity will be concentrated around Santa Margarida and Beja.
Our continuing collaboration to develop and improve land forces interoperability is significant to maintaining security and building a partnership capacity with our NATO Allies. Training alongside Portugal and our Allies in Europe helps the United States maintain the relationships and trust that are critical to ensuring security for the United States, NATO and partner nations. A strong military alliance can deter real or potential threats.
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