VENTSPILS, Latvia - U.S. Marine Reserve units from the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, and Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division and 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve seized the Ventspils beach from defending forces, portrayed by Latvian Soldiers, in an exercise during Baltic Operations, June 6.
The simulated amphibious assault was part of the 45th rendition of exercise Baltic Operations (Baltops). Baltic Operations is an annual multinational, maritime-focused exercise designed to provide high quality training for its participants. There are 14 countries participating in the 2017 exercise.
Training for the event began weeks ago with the Marine units traveling to the Carolinas for 10 days to rehearse the simulated assault.
Although planning the event took weeks of preparation and coordination, all actions for the assault occurred earlier in the day. Loading the vehicles onto the ship, transportation to the area and the launch were completed within the same day. Marines coordinated with Sailors to launch the amphibious assault vehicles from the U.S Navy Ship, USS Arlington (LPD 24).
"What we want to do is practice and demonstrate the ability to deliver sea control and power projection at and from the sea," said Vice Adm. Christopher W. Grady, commander of Navy's 6th fleet, and also the commander for Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, from which Baltops operates under.
The unit's role was to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver or to repel the enemy by close combat, said U.S. Marine Maj. Thomas Gingles, commander for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Bozier City, Louisiana.
The training and coordination has been invaluable and cannot be replaced as far as value, he said.
"We're operational forces from the sea, with our (recent) history, we've done a lot in the desert. Doing this kind of exercise gets us back to our core values, our core strengths," Gingles remarked.
Baltops 2017 is particularly dedicated to integrating air, maritime and ground assets throughout the exercise to strengthen combined capabilities and provide a realistic response to a potential threat.