PABRADE, Lithuania — Task Force Marne Soldiers and their Lithuanian Allies honed their combat skills during a force-on-force training exercise at Pabrade Training Area, Nov. 16-17.
Known as Strong Griffin 2023, the exercise saw U.S. Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, serve as an opposing fighting force for the Griffin Brigade of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, which provided the NATO Allies an opportunity to share each other’s defensive and offensive tactics, strategies, and standard operating procedures.
“Strong Griffin is an opportunity for us to train together and build towards interoperability procedurally, technically, and the human domain,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. David W. Griffith, commander of 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, said. “It allows us to train tactics, techniques, and procedures so we can operate better with each other.”
Task Force Marne Soldiers conducted infantry and armored offensive operations against Lithuanian Armed Forces partners in a series of training exercises across rural and urban environments to test their combat readiness. Lithuanians, in turn, prepared a defense to counter the American attacks. In the training scenario, the American forces worked their way through a forest environment in an effort to seize a town, while the Lithuanians defended the territory.
Both armies were able to adapt and adjust to their situations which allowed them to learn how each other operated as well as their respective strengths and weaknesses in real time.
“The end goal, of course from the tactical perspective… we check the abilities and the gaps we have within the training cycle,” Lithuanian Army Col. Aurelijus Alasauskas, commander of the Griffin Brigade, said. “So if we see that everything goes so well, I don’t think we’re really organizing our exercise the proper way. We happened to see some gaps already, which might be training points for the next year.”
Lithuanian Soldiers trained on their light and anti-tank infantry tactics against an armored force with the help of Task Force Marne tanks.
“We have tanks. We have larger vehicles than they do [in the exercise],” U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jaden Brown, a tank commander with Alpha “Ares” Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, said. “Bringing in all that heavy machinery against a much lighter force allows them to develop how they would act against a much better equipped, much larger force,”
In turn, Task Force Marne tank crews adapted their tactics to the forested terrain, which meant tankers stayed vigilant by looking out for smaller, light infantry in the tree lines versus much more visible larger vehicles, according to Brown.
Having the opportunity to face each other in a force-on-force exercise during Strong Griffin ultimately made the two NATO allies stronger together. The exercise also allowed the two allies to familiarize themselves with the tactics and techniques they’d employ together as well as similar terrain and environments they might encounter one day on the battlefield together.
“It’s not about fighting [against] each other, it’s about fighting together with a purpose,” Alasauskas said. “So with the U.S. providing offensive capabilities, and Lithuania providing defense capabilities — when you combine those two into one — you have a very mobile, aggressive defense, which is not letting the forces penetrate you or to maneuver in front of you. So you’re leading even in the defense position. This is the main purpose: To lead the battle the way you want to.”
“It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience working with the Lithuanians,” Griffith said. “They’ve been a great partner here in Pabrade. We’ve worked together to define each other's training objectives. We built an exercise that allowed us both to reach them.”
The 3rd Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe.