Paratroopers, Latvians develop understanding through training, planning
August 12, 2014
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ADAZI, Latvia (Aug. 12, 2014) -- Jumping from a C-130 served as a warmup for paratroopers, before beginning a two-day helicopter infiltration exercise with Latvian Soldiers.
After landing, paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade exited the drop zone via 12th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, toward a far-off objective where role playing opposing forces controlled a mock village. The paratroopers at the edges of the village provided overwatch security for incoming Black Hawks carrying Latvian soldiers to assault the village.
"I've been trying to plan [combined] operations where we mutually support each other," said Capt. Jonathan Patten, commander of Troop C, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment. "Yesterday, we were the supporting operation for the Latvians, and today, the Latvians are conducting the recon to support our operation. We're trying to build complexity and stress [into the scenario] and challenge our systems, both internally and working together."
Paratroopers with 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, are in Latvia demonstrating commitment to NATO obligations and interoperability with allied forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"Nowadays, a lot of activities abroad are [combined]," explained Latvian Col. Martins Liberts, commander of the Latvian Land Force Infantry Brigade. "We did this in Iraq, and the same in Afghanistan. We should not forget it, and continue these activities. I believe we are building up good relationships and understanding of each other's tactics."
In between objectives, leaders of both forces shared their information and coordinated positioning, movement and strategies to plan for the next mission.
"The past two days have been incredibly helpful," said Patten. "We share similar tactics and concepts for reconnaissance and offensive operations. Ultimately, the learning and the growth that's occurred is tremendous both for our own techniques and procedures and for figuring out what we need to do to plan a joint operation."
Paratroopers and Latvian Soldiers have been developing an understanding of each other outside the training area. Paratroopers with the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, have partnered with the Latvian 2nd Battalion since June, to build joint schedules for training, cultural events and basic routines.
"It's a great way to see how other armies conduct training and planning, and how they grow their leaders," said Patten, a native of Detroit, Michigan. "It makes a smoother process and develops the team. The longer you work together, the smoother the operation runs."
Liberts aims to continue hosting training exercises to keep paratroopers excited to work with Latvian forces, and keep them coming back for more.
"For us, it's important to have you here as reassurance for our nation," Liberts said. "I hope the paratroopers feel welcomed. They are well received by the local population. I think it's a good training experience for them, but also a good cultural experience as well."