GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (Army News Service, June 13, 2012) -- For the "Saber Strike" multi-national training event, June 10-22, in both Latvia and Estonia, professional observers, controllers and trainers from the Joint Multinational Training Command, or JMTC, were deployed to evaluate the progress and development of elements participating in the exercise.

The ongoing exercise is taking place at the Ādaži Training Area, near Riga, Latvia, as well as at facilities in Estonia. Saber Strike is the largest multi-national military exercise in the region. During the two-week exercise, about 2,000 personnel from Canada, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuanian, the United Kingdom and the United States, engage a common simulated enemy while they overcome challenges in interoperability.

"The main reason these countries are operating together is to build a better operational understanding between the separate organizations and improve command and control systems and processes at the tactical level," said Tony Bonarti, JMTC's lead exercise planner. "In pursuing operational cohesiveness, these nations expect to achieve vast improvements in their defense and host-nation governments that allow them to be prepared to address both national and international crisis events."

Each year, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have rotated hosting responsibility for the event. The countries share resources and capabilities to meet the training requirements of organic units and elements. Those units may deploy in support of contingency operations in Afghanistan.

In addition to the JMTC contribution, Europe's Training Support Activity Europe, or TSAE, shipped 160 target lifters to set-up three live-fire gunnery lanes. Also included in the support provided by TSAE were medical training aids and devices, traffic control kits, cultural-dress uniforms, improvised-explosive device simulators, and 1,000 sets of Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems, commonly called "MILES gear."

The live-fire and field training exercises are taking place in Latvia. The exercise scenario there has units defending a forward operating base.

"Additionally, there are two live-fire lanes established for the unit to conduct dismounted and mounted-counter attacks just like they could potentially do in Afghanistan," Alston said. "We provide everything (needed), including the containers to ship equipment. All of this helps the units achieve their desired training objectives."

During training, an Estonian maneuver brigade is being augmented by multinational participants from multiple nations including both NATO and non-NATO members, while the command post exercise, which is led by the Estonian military, is supported by subject matter experts and tools to enhance the training environment.

Because of its forward-based proximity to European partners, the JMTC is the only U.S. Army Training command to regularly train U.S. and multi-national forces together.

Trainers say simulations is a cost-effective way to stimulate the training environment, while allowing a commander to train, then retrain, while integrating live, virtual and constructive elements into training scenarios.

Also participating in the Saber Strike exercise are the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the Michigan Air Guard, the 4th Marine Division, and a joint terminal air controller team from the Washington Air National Guard.

Annually, JMTC conducts about 39 NATO exercises, involving approximately 5,000 multi-national personnel.

Page last updated Wed June 13th, 2012 at 00:00