173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers rotate training forces
June 30, 2014
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ADAZI, Latvia (June 30, 2014) -- Paratroopers from 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, jumped into Latvia with their combat equipment Wednesday, as the 173rd Airborne Brigade rotated units here for training during their unscheduled land forces exercise training alongside NATO allies.
A small ceremony was held to mark the arrival of new troops and the departure of paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, who return to their home station in Vicenza, Italy, after two months of training alongside Latvian and other forces here. Approximately 600 paratroopers from the brigade are in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as to demonstrate commitment to NATO obligations and sustain interoperability with allied forces.
Brigade commander of the Latvian land forces Col. Martins Liberts addressed the paratroopers and thanked them for their commitment.
"You were the first to come into Latvia to ensure my country felt safe," said Liberts. "The U.S. forces highly represented what the NATO flag stands for."
The 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, is an airborne cavalry squadron, which doctrinally focuses reconnaissance for target acquisition, observation points and camouflaging equipment.
"This new terrain provides us a great opportunity to train and hone in on our specialized skills," said 1st Lt. Jake Piscal, executive officer for Troop D.
The cavalry unit has partnered with the Latvian forces in previous exercises, but not on a large scale such as this training exercise.
"The Latvians have displayed a positive impression of their professionalism; they are truly masters of their craft. We are looking forward to working with a wider force base for this exercise," said 1st Lt. Kier Elmonairy, executive officer for Troop C.
Lt. Col. Kyle Reed, commander of the squadron, emphasized the importance of demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO.
"This is a great opportunity to unify allied forces," said Reed. "The paratroopers are looking forward to this exposure and the development of new skills and the unique training it will present."
The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, participated in several multinational training exercises during their time in Latvia.
"The experience we had here was definitely a unique opportunity for any Soldier," said Capt. Michael Agbay, a paratrooper leaving with 1st Battalion. "We not only trained with our Latvian partners, but ten total countries were on location at Adazi, and we built great lasting relationships."