RUKLA, Lithuania - Soldiers of Company B (Barbarian), 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., participated in Savage Wolf, a combined exercise, with Lithuanian soldiers on a range outside Rukla, April 4.
The integration of 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. units into Lithuanian forces aids in strengthening the defensive capabilities of Allied nations.
The exercise was conducted under Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led NATO endeavor to promote peace and stability by deterring aggressive actions in the region.
Exercise Savage Wolf featured a Lithuanian platoon working as offense alongside members of the U.S. Infantry as another Lithuanian platoon portrayed defense with a U.S. tank platoon. The offense attempted to gain the objective, an airfield; defensive forces sought to deny the claim.
The first day, April 3, each company moved onto the surrounding area and had approximately 12 hours to plan their offense or defensive operations. Both Lithuanians and U.S. Soldiers conducted troop leading procedures and rehearsed their roles on a map.
Not seeing the terrain before the exercise was no issue for Spc. Curtis Lichter, 3rd platoon, Barbarian Company, in the role of support by fire in a dismounted element.
"It's unknown territory, everything's new," said Spc. Lichter. "You don't get a chance to oversee the area, you're hidden before you hit it. You get your graphics and whatnot, but once you're on the ground, it's your first time. That's nice."
On April 4, the engagement commenced shortly after dawn, with fog still heavy in the air.
One main advantage in Lithuania and all Baltic countries is the fog, said 1st Lt. Mykolas Rutkauskas, the battalion executive officer for 2nd Company, Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry Battalion.
The two forces combined their capabilities and weaponry as they integrated together in the offensive and defensive positions.
Lithuanians were armed with equipment such as the portable anti-tank weapon Javelin, .50 caliber machine guns, and several M113 Armored Personnel Carrier vehicles.
The Barbarian Company operated Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks during the exercise.
The goal is to coordinate Lithuanian and U.S. actions and procedures, so it's very important to work together, said 1st Lt. Rutkauskas.
"Sometimes we think we can do everything on our own, from both sides actually," Rutkauskas said. "From the tank sides, from our infantry sides, but when we are working together we see that we can still have areas to go and work on."
Savage Wolf held multiple purposes: It would allow Lithuanians to integrate platoons into the company level; the platoons' capabilities could be evaluated; and to integrate U.S. forces and equipment into the Lithuanian defense plan.
"They are the host nation, we're here under their roof," Lichter said. "It's good that we need to get closer relations to see how they fight and in tandem, show them how we do it."
"It's beneficial for us to get more experience," Rutkauskas said. "Germans, Americans, Czechs, Latvians, Estonians. We have some beneficial points to get from our Allies and I think our Allies will be taking something from us. We are exchanging information, we are learning from each other something new all the time."
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51st 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 partnership and enhance global security.