By Pfc. Nicholas VidroOctober 4, 2017
ADAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia -- As cool winds blew across the forested Baltic terrain, U.S. Army Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade showed no signs of stopping as they began a multi-day combined arms live fire exercise with Spanish and Polish allies at Adazi Training Area, Latvia, on October 1, 2017.
The exercise is a part of Bayonet Shield, a regional exercise taking place in the Baltics to build readiness between the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners, including the various enhanced forward presence battle groups. Staff Sgt. Cody Francis, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, highlighted the importance of the American presence in the region.
"We're here in Latvia to train on becoming a stronger fighting force while working alongside our NATO allies, like the Spanish," he said.
The first day of training entailed a dismounted exercise alongside Spanish troops to engage multiple targets and apply breach and clear obstacle tactics at an enclosed training compound on the range. The Spanish were able to destroy a barbed wire fence with their Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System, which paved the way for the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment to breach and clear multiple buildings. Francis noted what this sort of training conveys across NATO.
"This training shows that we're here to support and defend our allies, and in turn they're here to do the same for us," he said.
The second day consisted of a simulated vehicle assault on similar targets with the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment maneuvering alongside their Spanish and Polish counterparts. U.S. and Spanish forces operated Humvees and M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, respectively. The Polish brought in their PT-91 Twardy battle tanks to provide heavier firepower. These movements were supported by Canadian Army artillery. Canadian Army Maj. Keith Woodill, battery commander of Z Battery, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, elaborated on what he had seen from his troops.
"There have been some challenges, but this training has been very beneficial to myself and my soldiers. This new terrain along with new obstacles are great to confirm our training," he said.
The second day also saw a visit from Paul Poletes, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Latvia, along with local Latvian media to witness the combined training of these forces.
Allied training like this showcases NATO forces' ability to work together cohesively as well as demonstrating the will of allies to come together. Woodill commented on the importance of such combined efforts during the training.
"To train with our allies is absolutely crucial, and to be able to practice these tasks in a training scenario only proves that we can work together proficiently," he said.