TUKUMS, TU, Lativa, - Soldiers of the 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan National Guard; Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines based out of Columbus, Ohio; the 1st Region, Zemessardzes (Latvian National Guard); and Lithuanian Land Forces participated in the closing ceremony of Strong Guard 2016 (Zobens 2016) near Tukums, Latvia, Aug. 14, 2016.

More than 800 military personnel from different cultures, different languages, and with different equipment worked through those challenges during the three-day field training exercise in order to learn how to best complement each other's abilities.

"Strong Guard 2016 provided units the time and resources to execute, assess, and train to meet their mission essential task standards while proving that U.S., Latvian, and Lithuanian's forces could work effectively side by side in a combat training environment toward a common goal," said Capt. Christopher Graham, operations officer for the 107th Engineer Battalion, 177th MP Bde. "The results of this exercise have laid the foundation for future training events and improved cooperation, relations, and interoperability between our countries."

Although the Michigan National Guard has been in State Partnership with Latvia for more than 24 years, Strong Guard was considered a Security Cooperation Opportunity for Unit Training (SCOUT) event as it was Latvian-led.

Other exercises that the Michigan National Guard has participated in Latvia with the Latvian Army include Allied Spirit, Saber Strike, and Summer Shield, which were NATO-lead.

With the SCOUT event's focus on interoperability between international forces, this year's exercise also brought together interoperability between three unique units: the 1776th MPs, the 1431st Engineer Company and Marine infantry.

"These units had not worked together as a group until this mission," said Sgt. 1st Class Darrin Spoon, first sergeant for the 1436th EN CO. "By bringing these Soldiers and Marines together, the 177th MPs and Latvian Zemessardze Region 1 commander, Col. Gailis, proved that the interoperability of U.S. and NATO forces is possible and with not much difficulty on the battlefield."

Strong Guard 2016 demonstrated the continued U.S. commitment to the security of the NATO Allies in the light of the increased tension in Eastern Europe.