LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia — Philosopher George Santayana once said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In 2003, Latvia opened the doors to a former top secret Soviet nuclear bunker for public tours. During exercise Saber Strike 22, Soldiers assigned to the 1-3rd Attack “Viper” Battalion were able to take a tour of this preserved bunker and get a glimpse into how the Soviet military prepared for a possible nuclear attack.
“Today was a great opportunity to introduce Soldiers from 1-3rd Attack Battalion to Latvian Soviet History. Understanding Latvia’s history and culture will deepen ties and foster closer relationships with our Latvian NATO partners,” said 1st Lt. Dean Lagattuta, intelligence officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-3rd Attack Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, after touring the Soviet Bunker in Skajupes, Latvia, March 17.
A group of 45 Vipers and three Latvian soldiers from Lielvarde Air Base participated in the cultural tour. The tour explored the 40-year-old bunker concealed beneath the Ligatne Rehabilitation Centre and included stops in the main war room, communications room, map room and planning room. Soldiers saw the communications equipment, air purifiers and original generators powered by Soviet built T-54 tank engines. Built to accommodate 250 people in the event of a chemical or nuclear attack, the Latvian government has preserved the majority of furniture and equipment in the bunker.
“In these tense working days, soldiers need to switch off their daily routine,” Seržants Arnis Jagza, a crew chief with the aviation squadron of the Latvian Airforce, stated after the tour. “Even a few hours outside of the base helped to do so. Today was a great day and I look forward to going on trips with you again.”
1-3rd Attack Battalion provides U.S. Army Europe and Africa with a ready and lethal combat aviation force, capable of rapidly projecting forces across the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility in support of designated plans to assure Allies and Partners, deter aggression, and if necessary, defeat near-peer adversaries. 12 CAB is among other units assigned to V Corps, America's Forward Deployed Corps in Europe that works alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-ready forces, execute joint and multinational training exercises and retains command and control for all rotational and assigned units in the European Theater.
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