RUKLA, Lithuania - At 11 a.m. the distinct sound of muted radio chatter was heard as two German army forward observers looked through binoculars at a sandy battlefield while U.S. Army Soldiers provided security for them.
The targets were mock enemy forces consisting of German Soldiers defending the area from a joint multinational attack force made up of American, German and Lithuanian armies. The task: get close enough to see the enemy and destroy them with superior firepower in the form of two A-10C Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.
During the course of the attack, the A-10s made several bombing runs, and though no actual rounds were fired, the noise of them flying so close to the ground more than made up for the lack of explosions.
On the ground, concealed by foliage, camouflage and face paint, the German forward observers kept a constant eye on the battlefield, radioing to the A-10s about target changes and locations of troops on the ground. To German army Capt. Jochen Haack, the lead observer, this exercise was about more than just hitting targets.
"This is an opportunity to work with other multinational units below the Task Force level," Haack said. "Multinational forces are a reality that we face, and working with units on lower levels is great training."
As more and more targets were hit with electronic rounds, range safeties traveled to those locations to let the enemy know they were destroyed, and they could stand down. Causalities were assessed and transported to temporary aid stations and positions taken on the field of battle.
As the A-10s left Rukla airspace, the air became still, with only the sound of scrub brush crunching under boots and muffled radio chatter to be heard. The mission continued on, and the Soldiers along with it, on to the next objective, taking along with them a strong partnership whose strength is cooperation and interoperability, according to Lt. Col. Richard Dumbliauskas, a Lithuanian Land Forces senior Observer, Trainer, Coach (OTC) for Saber Strike 2015.
"Multinational exercises like Saber Strike bring more flavor to the pot," said Dumbliauskas. "With more and more nations to train with and learn from, it will only make Lithuania and her allies stronger."
Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise. This year's exercise objectives facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to improve joint operational capability in a range of missions as well as preparing the participating nations and units to support multinational contingency operations. The exercise trains participants on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners. It is comprised of a brigade-level command post exercise and computer assisted exercise, as well as battalion-level field and situational training exercises. The exercise also features the integration of U.S. close air support with partner nation ground forces and a demonstration of U.S. air deployment of forces and equipment. All activities will feature joint, multinational training among the participating nations.