By Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos, 24th Press Camp HQOctober 17, 2016
RUKLA, Lithuania - U.S. Congressmen joined the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania in a short visit to the Lithuanian Land Forces Base in Rukla Oct. 16 to visit with American forces stationed there as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) and Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) joined Ambassador Anne Hall as they visited the base to learn more about the Army's mission in the Baltics.
2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) arrived in the Baltics last month to embark on a six-month rotation to train with their Baltic partners as part of Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort being conducted in Eastern Europe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.
"Being here is a commander's dream," said Lt. Col. Michael Kloepper, commander, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "During the six months we will be here, we can get more training done than we could in two years back home."
Kloepper said that his battalion, which is spread out across the Baltics and Poland, has designed their training around host nation exercises.
Upon arrival, the delegation was briefed on the unit's mission in providing deterrence to possible aggression, as well as the role it plays in Operation Atlantic Resolve. They were also given a tour of the facilities and had a chance to meet with some of the Paratroopers.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.