By Sgt. Michael Crawford, 354th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 10, 2014
ADAZI, Latvia -- Paratroopers and Latvian Soldiers learned to operate each other's radios and create improvised antennas during a land-navigation exercise in Adazi, Latvia, July 1.
Latvian soldiers with 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, and U.S. Army paratroopers with 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, based at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, learned to build antennas from raw materials and studied the differences and similarities between Latvian and American radio equipment.
Approximately 600 paratroopers from the brigade are in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve to demonstrate commitment to NATO obligations and sustain interoperability with allied forces.
This will be the first time we've ever built these emergency antennas," said Latvian Cpl. Viesturs Birkentals, 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, who has worked alongside U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan and Saber Strike 2014. "It will be interesting to train with the Americans."
Members of the two units combined into teams to navigate the forest and assemble emergency antennas from materials such as sticks, wires and plastic caps to establish communication with the base station.
Following successful establishment of communication, they received further coordinates to navigate through the woods, traveling up to three kilometers between points.
"I'm certainly excited to see these guys share their land navigation tips and techniques," said 1st Lt. Luke McCabe, a platoon leader in Troop C, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment. "It's integration at its finest - they're working together to complete a mission. I don't know how you can build a relationship any more effectively, especially when the conditions become more challenging: the rain, the cold, you're tired and you're knocking out objectives."
For some paratroopers, this is the first time working with not just Latvian Soldiers but with any partner nations.
Spc. Vincent Murray, a cavalry scout assigned to the squadron, hopes to learn as much as he can from his hosts.
"Being a radio transmitter operator, learning their way will help me handle their equipment once we start going on more missions together," said Murray. "We're here to train with them, learn from them and make sure they know we're here to help them out."
The 173rd will offer what knowledge they can to the Latvian army.
"I hope the Latvian soldiers get to see a different way of doing things," said McCabe. "It's a challenge for both parties, but I want them to learn from us just as much as I want us to learn from them."
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Commands areas of responsibility.