By U.S. Army Europe Public AffairsJune 25, 2013
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- For U.S. Army Europe and multinational partners that participated in Saber Strike 2013, the Baltic-based exercise served as an opportunity to exercise their capabilities and solidarity across a multilateral and multinational spectrum.
However, for one engineer detachment out of Schweinfurt, Germany, the exercise in Lithuania served as the foundation for them to not only work in close cooperation with one of the country's only engineer battalions, but to learn how multinational partnering prepares units for an upcoming deployment.
"The training in Lithuania was an excellent opportunity to detect our unit's deployability," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Clark, 243rd Engineer Detachment commander.
Clark further explained that while it is one thing to conduct this type of exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, the location of the training area where the unit commonly trains, it's another thing to go to an unfamiliar country; something that they will be doing during their upcoming deployment in the fall.
The 243rd Engineer Detachment, 18th Engineer Brigade's Construction Management Team, was sent to Saber Strike by its commanding element, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, to utilize the diverse opportunity presented during the exercise to work with the Lithuanian Armed Forces' "Col. Juozas Vitkus" Engineer Battalion and conduct its Mission Rehearsal Exercise, or MRE.
"We are an American unit, based in Germany, so we know American and German building codes," Clark said. "But here there are different standards and codes, so we are learning how to adapt our capabilities to the types of missions we could be doing during our upcoming deployment."
Using Jeger Barracks, located in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Pabrade Training Area, located in the city of Pabrade, Lithuania; the detachment's training forced both units to exercise their entire range of capabilities.
With the assistance of the Lithuanian Engineer Brigade, all training and operations were performed on Lithuanian infrastructures. This included surveying and assessing buildings and roads, conducting demolition analysis, and providing recommendations to the command.
Lithuanian Engineer Battalion's Staff and Logistic Company Commander, Lithuanian Capt. Almantas Burneika, said that while it is impossible to learn everything about one another in a two-week period, the training served as a means for the U.S. and Lithuanian engineers to understand each other's procedures, what equipment they use, and how they operate.
"It's highly important to be on a common ground of understanding," Burneika said. "Being in the military is a multicultural and international endeavor. Despite cultural diversity and specific routines, at least we can be cohesive in how we work and learn one standard."
Conducting their MRE under the Saber Strike umbrella, replicating and testing capabilities that would be used during an operational deployment, the engineers from both nations took part in an experience that not only fostered a greater appreciation for one another, but further helped strengthen and enhance national partnership.
"We had a very fruitful exchange with the Lithuanian Engineer Battalion," Clark concluded. "It was great to see the investment they had in schooling, education, partnership and how committed a NATO partner they really are."