ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia - Logisticians from the "First Rock" Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Lithuanian Main Support Battalion, Logistic Support Command conducted bilateral maneuverability operations here, Sept. 22-23.
These operations were a part of Baltic Push, an exercise that provided U.S. and Lithuanian logistic units an opportunity to work together to sustain NATO forces training in the European theater.
"What we are trying to do is demonstrate and execute various levels of distribution and support across international borders," said Capt. Thadd Wilson, commander of Gamble Co., 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. "By having two NATO countries working together and operating in a third NATO country, demonstrates the freedom of movement that is vital to the OAR [Operation Atlantic Resolve] mission."
Operation Atlantic Resolve, is an ongoing, multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies. The First Rock was the first U.S. unit to deploy into the Baltic and Black Sea region in support of OAR in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea, demonstrating its solidarity with NATO allies.
Based out of Marijampole, Lithuania, the airborne-qualified logisticians of Gamble Co., have worked alongside of soldiers from the Lithuanian MSB for the past four months on everything from vehicle recovery and night vision driving to distribution operations.
Baltic Push, a round-trip tactical convoy operation from Lithuania to Latvia, allowed the two units the opportunity to put those collective training exercises into action.
"Baltic Push allows the MSB to act as it would in a deployed environment, but instead of supporting our own forward support companies, we are supporting the U.S. and vice versa," said 2nd Lt. Povilas Stanaitis, platoon leader in the Lithuanian MSB. "This is big for us. Lithuania is a really small country, so it means a lot for our troops to work outside their force, especially with such a respected NATO partner.
The Lithuanian MSB tactical operations center based in Latvia, which is structured like the First Rock Battalion, is providing command and control over its subordinate companies in the Baltic and Black Sea region and has integrated Gamble Co. into its own command structure.
For Stanaitis, being able to work so closely with the U.S. is more than just another training experience.
"This sends a distinct message. But not just to the Baltic States, to the world," added Stanaitis, who has only served in the Lithuanian Armed Forces for 13 months. "It shows that NATO has a 'ready-to-help' attitude and supports the alliance no matter what. I'm proud to be a part of it."
Wilson, whose Gamble Co., will be replaced by the forward support company from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., later this year, said while logistic training may not have all of the "cool" shooting and explosions found in infantry or armored training, he feels its strategic value and impact is what counts.
"Ultimately, we are working to streamline the ability for NATO countries to move between all of the countries in the region," said Wilson, Rockville, Md. native and eight-year Army veteran. "Whenever NATO partners work together it helps strengthen the alliance, so it's been a good opportunity for everyone to come together, combine assets, and work across borders."
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