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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2019

Back to basics: Proficiency at heart of 2500th DLD's Europe mission

By Capt. Desiree Dillehay 2500th Digital Liaison Detachment

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Twenty Soldiers with the 2500th Digital Liaison Detachment conducted basic warrior tasks and focused on understanding battlefield enablers during the unit’s annual training Aug. 10 to 23, here, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. 

The unit focused this year’s training on improving proficiency of basic individual and collective warrior tasks, such as land navigation, unit weapons systems, vehicle operations and communications equipment.

“The ability to move and fight is just as important as the ability to do staff work,” said Col. Christopher Varhola, the current 2500th DLD commander.

This is the first time in several years that the unit has conducted an annual training like this, as the unit usually deploys small teams throughout the European theater to work with partner nations in place of a traditional annual training. 

“The DLD’s job is to connect coalition divisions and corps with U.S. maneuver forces utilizing the full suite of mission command systems across the spectrums of field artillery, air defense, operations, logistics and intelligence,” said Varhola.

The American Army fights as part of a coalition, and it fights using mission command systems, added Varhola. “The DLD connects the two.”

The ability to bridge the communication gap between coalition units directly impacts how the DLD’s higher headquarters and other U.S. Army Europe forces operate.

“We are still working through significant challenges in working together, (but the DLD helps) these two parties come together,” said Col. Gregory Gimenez, the next 2500th DLD commander.

These types of units were created after the Gulf War. In the early 90s, the Army recognized a significant strategic gap in helping nations work and fight alongside each other.

“This filled that gap,” said Gimenez.

“Imagine that we have a deep airstrike at the same time that a coalition unit is conducting an offensive. We deconflict to ensure that there is no friendly fire and to ensure that we can jointly mass fires on our target,” said Varhola. “And that at the end of the day is really what we do. That is the seriousness of our mission.”

Varhola reiterated that training is the unit’s number one priority.

“The doctrinal DLD mission is so complex that it requires constant attention and training,” added Varhola. “But at the same time, we have to maintain those critical combat skills that allow us to survive in combat to do our doctrinal mission. This requires a lot of dedication from all the unit members.” 

Conducting basic Soldier tasks — shoot, move, communicate — in addition to conducting higher-level staff work is essential to operating anywhere.

“We are proficient with our mission command systems and communicating between U.S. forces and partners,” said Master Sgt. Carlos Garcia, acting sergeant major for the 2500th DLD. “But it’s important we come together as a team. You never know exactly where you are headed next and we might not always be sitting behind a mission command system.” 

The 2500th DLD is a U.S. Army Reserve unit based in Vicenza, Italy, consisting of 30 Soldiers. Most of these Soldiers are higher ranking and have previously served on active duty. 

“The skills each Soldier brings to the table are what builds the team,” said Maj. Leyland Torres, 2500th DLD operations chief. He added that many of the Soldiers work in civilian positions supporting the Army in Europe or are on Active Duty Operational Support (ADOS) orders with other units.

Sgt. 1st Class Eric Herrera, transportation logistics noncommissioned officer with the 2500th DLD, is one such example. As one of four DLD Soldiers on ADOS orders with U.S. Army Africa, Herrera’s full-time job aligns with what he does as a Reserve Soldier. 

“Going downrange and perfecting relationship and communication skills benefits both jobs,” said Herrera. 

He noted that USARAF uses the same systems and is set up in a similar fashion as the DLD — divided by staff cells — which gives him the ability to not only keep his own skills current, but also to help develop those skills in other DLD members.

“Every one of these Soldiers has to be an expert because they operate on higher level staffs,” said Varhola.