By Sgt. Shiloh CapersApril 15, 2017
ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia - Soldiers from Company C (Chaos), 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., conducted their last platoon live-fire exercise before exercise Summer Shield here, April 14.
The live fire was a portion of the overall exercise, a speed of assembly drill. Abrams tanks from Chaos Company, presently located in Tapa, Estonia, moved into Latvia and within 48 hours, were participating in a live-fire exercise.
The 3rd ABCT is deployed to eastern Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led NATO endeavor to ensure peace by deterring aggressive actions in the region. They are able to rapidly deploy and act decisively in a crisis.
The exercise featured multiple vehicles and weapons system, from the Abrams with sabot rounds to a Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) with a mounted machine gun.
The land provided by the Latvians was not considered a range but a maneuver area, said Staff Sgt. William Paul Gunther III, the battalion tank master gunner for 1st Bn. 68th Armor Reg.
The maneuver area was turned into a gunnery range that 1st Bn. 68th Armor Reg. could utilize for their platforms.
Preparing the area began months ago with engineers and the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Stephen Capehart's guidance. Given the blank slate, Staff Sgt. Gunther sought to establish a range that would meet the commander's intent and their battalion's mission essential tasks for the operation.
The range allows tank commanders more movement in their decisions and actions, said Gunther.
"It's not a defined range," said Gunther. "Back at Fort Carson, in Colorado, we operate on defined ranges with defined lanes and defined positions. Here, it challenges the tank commanders to actually hunt for targets, to hunt for potential enemies that they must engage with all weapons systems. They have to find their path. They have to establish or find cover and concealment. Normally on a range, it's provided for you."
The training accomplished in the Baltics under Operation Atlantic Resolve is irreplaceable. Not only is a new generation making ties with Allies, it is advancing the U.S.'s commitment to NATO. Training in new environments and conditions strengthens the capabilities of U.S. Forces.
"We've had an ABV (Assault Breacher Vehicle) come out and qualify for the first time in the seven years since I've been in this brigade," Gunther said.
Although preparing to depart Adazi in the upcoming months, 1st Bn. 68th Armor Reg, will be replaced by 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta. The 1 PPCLI will be preparing to lead Latvia in NATO's latest operation, Enhanced Forward Presence, which features four multinational battalion battle groups in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
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.