PABRADE, Lithuania (Nov. 17, 2014) -- U.S. Cavalry Soldiers joined soldiers from eight other nations to complete the inaugural Iron Sword 2014, a multinational combined-arms exercise involving nearly 2,500 military personnel in the Republic of Lithuania, Nov. 2-14.
Soldiers from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and Soldiers from C Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, joined soldiers from Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom for the Lithuanian Land Forces exercise.
"The theme of this exercise is to train together and ensure we achieve interoperability while conducting military operations," said Maj. Gen. Almantas Leika, commanding general, Lithuanian Land Forces. "Besides this, we are building and developing trust and confidence amongst our Soldiers, commanders and units. We are strong when we stand united."
Fort Hood, Texas-based Soldiers from 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Vilseck, Germany-based Soldiers from 1st Sqdn., 2nd Cav. Regt., in Strykers, conducted hasty defense and attack maneuvers, dismounted patrols and other missions, alongside infantry units from the Canada, Estonia, Hungary and the U.K., an air defense unit from the Czech Republic and reconnaissance units from Luxembourg and Germany.
The exercise, organized under the NATO Military Training and Exercise Program, is designed to strengthen multinational military cooperation and interoperability.
"This exercise has become a true symbol of our flexibility, solidarity and unity," said Juozas Olekas, Lithuanian Minister of Defense. "Iron Sword demonstrates the resolve and commitment of all those allies contributing to the neighbors of NATO and collective defense."
In 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence, and became a full member of NATO in 2004. Iron Sword 2014 is the first large-scale NATO exercise hosted in the Baltic nation of nearly three million people that borders the Russian Kalingrad Oblast to the southwest.
"Being in a former Soviet republic, and training in military installations and ranges that were used by the Soviets has been an interesting experience," said Staff Sgt. Dusin Vinyard, section leader, B Co., 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., and native of Hutto, Texas. "Knowing how hard the Lithuanians fought for the freedoms they now have makes me appreciate freedom more, and shows how important this training is."
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait attended the closing ceremonies for Iron Sword 2014, and addressed service members and attendees.
"Collective defense is the basis of the united and strong NATO," said Grybauskait. "The Wales Summit agreed on concrete collective defense measures for the Baltic States. This exercise is a good proof that NATO is placing special focus on our security and taking concrete measures to ensure it."
Iron Sword 2014 also served to certify units of the Lithuanian Land Forces for standby for the NATO Response Force, in 2015 and 2016.
U.S. Soldiers participated in Iron Sword 2014 as part of the larger U.S. Army Europe-led Atlantic Resolve, a multinational combined-arms exercise involving the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and host nations, taking place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to enhance multinational interoperability, to strengthen relationships among allied militaries, to contribute to regional stability and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO.