By Sgt. Shiloh CapersJune 11, 2017
ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia - A combined arms live-fire exercise for Saber Strike resulted in a large scale, offensive attack by utilizing the resources of multiple branches of the U.S. military, the Italian Mechanized Infantry and Polish tanks on a range at Adazi Military Base, June 9.
The exercise was a demonstration of coordination between nations and the heavy impact of combined capabilities. Exercise Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led multinational combined forces training exercise in the Baltic region. The exercise tests the capability of multiple nations to respond collectively against any threat.
U.S. Army National Guard 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, began the exercise with a close demonstration of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) firing. An aircraft flyover by the B-2 Spirit, the B-52 Stratofortess, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and two Apache helicopters followed.
Army HIMARS and U.S. Marine Reserve Artillery started to destroy the enemy artillery, as well as surface-to-air threats. U.S. Army Apache helicopters, piloted by 10th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers, flew in to neutralize armored forces and aid in the elimination of mechanized forces. Polish PT-91 Twardy tanks moved forward on the battlefield, while engineers conducted an area breach, allowing tanks to push through.
Light armored reconnaissance vehicles opened fire downrange to destroy remaining mechanized forces. A combined anti-armor team section conducted an attack with a 50 caliber machine gun and M41 Saber system with TOW 2B anti-tank missile. The Italian Mechanized Infantry cleared the objective area of all remaining enemy infantry on the battlefield. All forces maneuvered south to establish a blocking position from the continued interference from enemy forces.
It's a good day when so many Marine assets and capabilities are utilized together, especially with other countries, said Capt. Chase Bradford, weapons company commander, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, California.
"Success is if my Marines or the leadership all the way down to the newest private in my unit, and the same for the Italians, the Polish and every nation we've worked with here, walk away with an increased understanding of the tactics, techniques and procedures that we utilize to fight, and remember that and pass it on to their friends and coworkers," Bradford said. "Ultimately what we'll have is increased interoperability when we are called on to defend against any aggressor or defend stability in the region."
Maj. Gen. Leonids Kalnins, the Chief of Defence of the Republic of Latvia; Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe; Nancy Bikoff Petit, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia; Inara Murniece, the speaker of the Saeima, the Parliament of Latvia; were present for the demonstration, as well as military leaders and media.
Lt. Gen. Hodges remarked on the swift creation of Enhanced foward Presence Battlegroups that are already participating in exercises and the remarkable leadership Canada has displayed by volunteering to lead Latvia's multinational battlegroup.
"I think exercises like today send a very, very strong message that it's not only the U.S. that's interested in securing the defense in the Baltic region," Petit said. "It's all of our NATO Allies working together...we are moving from assurance to deterrence, and these kind of exercises, which will continue throughout the fall and next year, are strong demonstrations of not only U.S. commitment, but NATO's commitment to the Baltic region."