RUKLA, Lithuania - U.S. ambassador David Killion, of American Embassy Vilnius, made a visit to Rukla, Lithuania, to talk with the chief of staff of Iron Wolf Brigade, Lithuanian army, and U.S. Soldiers about military exercises throughout Eastern Europe, April 29, 2015.
The meeting's central theme was Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies.
Killion, who is the Senate Staff director for U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, received briefs from leaders of Team Eagle, Task Force 2-7 Infantry, U.S. Army, based in Rukla, regarding training, interoperability and logistics. He also discussed with chief of staff Lt. Col. Mantas Paskivicius about enhancing Lithuanian military operational force.
"Over the past year, Eastern Europe has been seized with Russian aggression in Ukraine; and we're working to formulate the best possible U.S. policy response to that aggression," said Killion. "The most important job of this NATO operation is to convince the Russians that article 5 is going to be invoked to protect these frontline states in the Baltics."
Article 5, a part of the NATO treaty alliance, calls upon NATO allies to aide in the defense of any NATO member who is invaded.
"I think it's very useful to see American troops and American tanks here so we can get an understanding of exactly what the trip-wire looks like to the Russians," Killion added.
The troops of Team Eagle have been on ground training hand in hand with the Soldiers of Iron Brigade over the last several weeks. The NATO counterparts have been learning each other's operational tactics, as well as, training on each other's equipment and weapons.
"The amount of support we've received form the Lithuanians is tremendous," said Capt. James Lewis, the mission command officer in command for Team Eagle. "Whatever we need, they do whatever it takes to make it happen."
As the U.S. continues to render aide to its NATO partners of Operation Atlantic Resolve, strength and continuity will remain the fundamental mission.
"The United States had a tremendous victory at the end of the Cold War," added Killion. "It's very important that we make sure we continue to consolidate that victory.
"The Baltic States are now fully-functioning democracies, they're part of NATO and they're also part of the European Union. It's very important that doesn't change."