By Staff Sgt. Brooks FletcherSeptember 29, 2015
ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia (Sept. 28, 2015) -- U.S. paratroopers from the "First Rock" Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Vicenza, Italy, and five other North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries wrapped up the week-long, Latvian-led exercise Silver Arrow, Sept. 28.
With several key leaders in attendance, to include the Brig. Gen. Tim Daugherty, deputy commanding genereal for 4th Infantry Division and Raimonds Bergmanis, minister of defense to Latvia, participants used the exercise's culminating event to put on a demonstration of force.
"This exercise helps exhibit the strengths that every nation brings to the fight and how we can come together to make a better allied force," said 1st Lt. Evan Eyster, fire support officer, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "It sends the message that we are cohesive and ready to work with one another."
With more than 1,000 participants, Silver Arrow is a cooperative training exercise among Canada, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
Lt. Col. Michael Wagner, battalion commander for First Rock, who has been deployed to Latvia and training since June as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, or OAR, said it has been a great experience for his "Sky Soldiers" to be able to come here and conduct operations alongside their NATO brethren.
"Sometimes people may not understand or appreciate how good other nation's forces are, but all of the countries here have been trained to a high standard," Wagner added.
Along with validating the company's mission-essential task list and unit proficiency, the situational training exercise saw the U.S. Army paratroopers working with troops from the Danish, Latvian and German militaries as the opposition forces hindering the mission of the blue force comprised of light infantry troops from the British and Canadian army.
British Army Lt. Col. Sanjay Turner, commander of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guard, talked about what it means for all the participants to come together and work in such a synchronized manner.
"Like any multinational opportunity, it's great for us to operate alongside our allies and ease all of the inevitable frictions of language, equipment, tactics; so that if we are called to fight, side-by-side, we do so as effectively and as victoriously as possible," Turner said. "History has proven that collective defense is the most effective defense. We come together as an alliance, one that is a lot older than me and has served its purpose before, to ensure Europe and the world is safe and prosperous for collective identity and certainty that aggression will never be stood for."
Exercises like Silver Arrow contribute to the mission of OAR, an ongoing, multinational partnership focused on combined-training and security cooperation between NATO allies. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, were 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.