Local members of the Florida Army National Guard participate in special training overseas

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Local members of the Florida Army National Guard are overseas participating in a special training exercise.

The 1st Squadron, 153rd Cavalry Regiment of the Florida National Guard headquartered in Panama City, is now taking part in a joint military exercise in Europe.

American soldiers have teamed up with the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia for Defender Europe 21, which began last Saturday.

“This is a major deal not just for this Squadron but for the Florida National Guard,” Major Justin Howard, the 1-153 Cavalry Squadron Operations Officer said.

The Defender Europe 21’s mission is to build interaction between the U.S. NATO allies and partner militaries.

As a part of a larger exercise, The spur ride is a two-day training event.

Major Justin Howland said it usually happens every other year, but this is the first time they have ever done it is a combined effort between the United States and another country.

This is also a chance for the Cavalry soldiers to help prepare them for being promoted in rank.

“The spur ride is really a series of mental and physical events that prepare younger cavalry soldiers, in order to increase within the ranks and have that honed expertise for them to be successful NCO’s and officers within the Cavalry squad,” Major Howland said.

Major Howland said they had 64 participants trying to earn their silver spurs. 15 of those soldiers were from the Republic of North Macedonia.

The soldiers earned their spurs on May 23.

Soldiers were tested for COVID-19 and vaccinated so they could leave their masks off during the training, to maintain combat ability.

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